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FROM THE PAST
FACTS about this Decade
- Population 177,830,000
- Unemployment 3,852,000
- National Debt 286.3 Billion
- Average Salary $4,743
- Teacher's Salary $5,174
- Minimum Wage $1.00
- Life Expectancy
66 years/Men 73 years/Women
Auto deaths 21.3 per 100,000
- An estimated 850,000 "war
enter college; emergency living quarters are
set up in dorm lounges, hotels and trailer camps.
sixties were the age of youth, as 70 million children from the post-war
baby boom became teenagers and young adults. The movement away from
the conservative fifties continued and eventually resulted in
revolutionary ways of thinking and real change in the cultural fabric of
American life. No longer content to be images of the generation
ahead of them, young people wanted change. The changes affected education,
values, lifestyles, laws, and entertainment. Many of the
revolutionary ideas which began in the sixties are continuing to evolve
During the sixties, college campuses became centers of debate
and scenes of
protest more than ever before. Great numbers (statistics)
of young adults, baby boomers, reaching military
draft age (selective service) and not yet voting age (minimum voting
age did not become 18 until 1971), caused a struggle which played out on
many campuses as the country became more involved (timeline)
in the Vietnam War.
In 1966, James
S. Coleman commissioned by the government, published
Equality of Educational Opportunity, a landmark study that led the way to
forced integration and bussing in the 1970's.
Problems in secondary schools,
discovered in the fifties, were being addressed in books such as James B.
Conant's The American High School Today. A return to the
teaching of basic thinking skills was seen to be part of the solution.
In grade schools across the nation, phonetics
made a come back as reading specialists try to fix what was wrong in
American education in the fifties.
Youth predominated the culture of the
1960's. The post World War II Baby Boom had created 70 million
teenagers for the sixties, and these youth swayed the fashion, the fads
and the politics of the decade. California surfers took to skateboards
as a way to stay fit out of season, and by 1963, the fad had spread across
the country. Barbie dolls,
introduced by Mattel in 1959, became a huge success in the sixties, so
much so that rival toy manufacturer Hasbro came up with G.
I. Joe, 12 inches tall and the first action figure for boys.
Another doll, the troll
or Dammit doll (named for it's creator, Joseph Dam) was a good luck symbol
for all ages. Slot
cars overtook toy trains in popularity.
The 1960's began with crew cuts on men
hairstyles on women. Men's casual shirts were often plaid and
buttoned down the front, while knee-length dresses were required wear for
women in most public places. By mid-decade, miniskirts or hot pants,
often worn with go-go
boots, were revealing legs, bodywear was revealing curves, and women's
hair was either very short or long and lanky. Men's hair became
longer and wider, with beards and moustaches. Men's
wear had a renaissance. Bright colors, double-breasted sports
jackets, polyester pants suits with Nehru
jackets, and turtlenecks were in vogue. By the end of the
decade, ties, when worn, were up to 5" wide, patterned even when worn
with stripes. Women wore peasant skirts or granny dresses and chunky
shoes. Unisex dressing was popular, featuring bell bottomed jeans,
love beads, and embellished t-shirts. Clothing was as likely to be
purchased at surplus stores as boutiques. Blacks of both genders
wore their hair in an afro.
The Civil Rights movement made great changes in society in
the 1960's. The movement began peacefully, with Martin
Luther King and
leading sit-ins and peaceful protests, joined by whites and Jews. Malcolm
X preached black superiority, and by the end of the decade the Black
Panthers were advocating black separatism, violence and anti-semitism.
The term "blacks" became socially acceptable, replacing
"Negroes." The number of Hispanic Americans tripled during
the decade and became recognized as an oppressed minority. Cesar
Chavez organized Hispanics in the United
Farm Workers Association. American
Indians, facing unemployment rates of 50% and a life expectancy only
two-thirds that of whites, began to assert themselves in the courts and in
The Presidential Commission of the Status of Women (1963) presented
disturbing facts about women's place in our society. Betty
Friedan and Gloria
Steinham(National Organization of Women)
questioning unequal treatment of women, giving birth to Women's
Lib, and discovered the "glass
ceiling." The Civil
Rights Act of 1964 was amended to include gender. The birth
control pill became widely available and abortion
for cause was legalized in Colorado in 1967. In 1967, both abortion
and artificial insemination became legal in some states.
The Supreme Court decided in 1962 that prayer
in the public schools was unconstitutional. As the 1960's
progressed, many young people turned from mainstream Protestant religions
to mystic eastern religions such as Transcendental
Mahesh Yogi) or Zen
Buddhism. Respect for authority declined among the youth, and
crime rates soared to nine times the rate of the 1950's. Marijuana
use soared. Respected figures such as Timothy
Leary encouraged the use of LSD
as a mind-opening drug. The
hippie movement endorsed drugs, rock music, mystic religions and
sexual freedom. They opposed violence. The Woodstock
Festival at which 400,000 young people gathered in a spirit of love
and sharing, represents the pinnacle of the hippie movement. Many
hippies moved to Haight
Ashbury in San Francisco, East
Village in New York City, or lived in communes.
Castro, soon after overtaking Cuba,
declared that he was a communist, the United States broke off diplomatic
relations. Castro seized American property. The CIA attacked
Cuba in an ill-fated mission at the Bay
of Pigs. In 1962, a spy plane identified long range missiles
in Cuba. President John
F. Kennedy readied troops to invade Cuba, and the Soviet Union
prepared to fire at US cities if we made a move.
John F. Kennedy was young and
charismatic, and his brief reign as president was known as Camelot.
He was assassinated by Lee
Harvey Oswald in 1963. His Vice
President, Lyndon B. Johnson became president, and was reelected the
following year. To prevent communist North
Vietnam from overtaking South
Vietnam, the United States sent military advisors and then soldiers.
It was largely a secret war until 1965, when massive troop buildups were
ordered to put an end to the conflict. The draft
was accelerated and anti-war sentiment grew in the US. College
students organized anti-war protests, draft dodgers fled to Canada, and
many soldiers reflected the growing disrespect for authority, shooting
their officers rather than follow orders. Johnson, blamed by many
for the war and the racial unrest in the country, did not run for
reelection in 1968. John Kennedy's brother, Robert
campaigned for the nomination for President and he, too was killed.
Malcolm X was assassinated in 1965 and Martin
Luther King was assassinated in 1968.
Race, begun by the Soviets in 1957, was highlighted by Alan Shepherd,
the first American in space in 1961. In 1963, John
Glenn was the first American to orbit the earth. Neil
Armstrong and Buzz
Aldrin, in Apollo
XI, were the first
men to walk on the moon in 1969. The surgeon
general determined that smoking was a health hazard, and in 1965
required cigarette manufacturers to place warnings on all packages and in
all ads. The first clone of a vertebrate, a South African tree frog,
was produced in 1967. Dr.
Denton Cooley implanted the first artificial heart in a human, and it
kept the patient alive for three days until a human heart could be
People became more concerned
with their health and their environment. Rachel
Carson's Silent Spring awakened the environmental
movement and the Sierra Club
gained a following. Ralph Nader's book, Unsafe
at any Speed, led to the consumer movement.
In 1960, Elvis returned
to the music scene from the US Army, joining the other white male vocalists
at the top of the charts;
Bobby Darin, Neil Sedaka, Jerry
Lee Lewis, Paul Anka, Del
Shannon and Frankie
Avalon. America, however, was ready for a change. The Tamla
Motown Record Company came on the scene, specializing in black rhythm
and blues, aided in the emergence of female groups such as Gladys
Knight and the Pips, Martha
and the Vandellas, the Supremes,
Franklin, as well as some black men, including Smokey
Brown, Jimi Hendrix,
and the Temptations.
Bob Dylan helped bring about a folk
music revival, along with Joan Baez and Peter,
Paul & Mary. The Beach
Boys began recording music that appealed to high schoolers. The Beatles,
from England, burst into popularity with innovative rock music that appealed
to all ages.
There was a major change in
popular music in the mid-1960's, caused in part by the drug scene.
Acid Rock, highly amplified and improvisational, and the more mellow
psychedelic rock gained prominence. When the Beatles turned to acid
rock, their audience narrowed to the young. Jefferson
Airplane and The Grateful Dead grew
out of the counterculture in 1967. The musical phenomena of the decade
a three day music festival that drew 400,000 hippies and featured peace,
love, and happiness...and LSD.
synthesizer, developed in 1960 by Robert Moog and Donald Buchla, marked
a major change in serious music. Innovative composers were already
experimenting with electroacoustic music. Now they were able to go
further with John Cage's
0'0 (Zero Silence) to be performed by anyone in anyway; Morton
Subotnik's Silver Apples of the Moon; the Sonic Arts Union's Wolfman.
In 1967, Alvin Lucier,
one of the co-founders of the Sonic Arts Union, created "Music for a
Solo Performance," in which electrodes were attached to the performer's
scalp. His alpha waves, controlled by his concentration, resonated
from loudspeakers, accompanied by occasional percussion. Computers
were used in music composition and sound synthesis, notably Max Mathews'
Music 4 and Music 5. By the end of the decade, popular music was also
using synthesizers and other electronic devices.
By 1960, Broadway productions had become prohibitively
expensive for adventurous offerings, and producers resorted to musicals and
works proven elsewhere. It was a great decade for musicals, including Camelot,
the Roof, Oliver, Man of La Mancha, Hair,and
Girl. Even Off-Broadway was feeling the economic pinch. leading to
the advent of off-off-Broadway,
where innovative shows and new writers could get a start. Theater
expanded outside New York City, and by 1966 for the first time, more actors
were employed outside New York City than in it. The most prestigious
playwright of the sixties is
Edward Albee, who wrote Who's
Afraid of Virginia Woolf.
Musicals that proved popular
on Broadway were made into movies, including Sound
of Music and My Fair Lady.
Monroe died, Audrey Hepburn,
star of My Fair Lady and Wait until Dark, was the idol of young girls.
Disney offered family entertainment in 101 Dalmatians and Pinocchio.
Movies became more political, commenting on the arms race as in Dr.
Strangelove. Sex became more explicit, and occasionally
nontraditional, as in Midnight Cowboy, Bob and Carol and Ted and
Alice, and the
James Bond Movies, including Dr. No, From Russia With Love, and
Goldfinger, combined sex and violence and were enormously popular.
Previous taboos on sex, violence and language, were ignored, resulting in
the need for a new film code.
Radio continued to be the
primary means of listening to music.
The major development was a change from primarily AM
to FM . Radio was supplemented by American
Bandstand , watched by teens from coast to coast. They not only
learned the latest music, but how to dance to it. When Chubby Checker
introduced the twist
on the show in 1961, a new craze was born, and dancing became an individual
activity. The Mashed
Potato, the Swim, the Watusi, the Monkey and the Jerk followed the
Twist, mimicking their namesakes. Each new dance often lasted for just
a song or two before the next one came along. Eventually the names and
stylized mimicry ceased and the dancers just moved however they wanted.
For those who preferred watching the dancers, Go-go girls, on stages or in
bird cages, danced above the crowd.
Television offered the
second prime time cartoon show, the
Flintstones , in 1960. (The first was Rocky and his Friends in
1959.) It appealed to both children and adults and set off a trend
that included Alvin & the
Chipmunks , the
Jetsons , and Mr. Magoo. The Andy
Griffith Show was the epitome of prime time family television, and
ran for most of the decade. The Beverly
Hillbillies heralded the rise of the sitcom. The
supernatural and science fiction blended in many of the popular shows,
including Bewitched, The
Favorite Martian , I Dream of Jeannie, Star
Trek, the Outer Limits , and the
All information on this page is from The
Kingwood College Library
IF YOU ARE AN ALUMNI OF THIS DECADE AND HAVE
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