Professor J. Bisson
The Legacy of the 1960’s
The 1960’s were a time of great political and moral strife for not only certain people, but for the entire nation. The events that occurred then had a large impact on the United States of the 1960’s, as well as the 2010 United States. It is because of these some of these actions that the way we live is greatly influenced by the events of the 60’s. Several of the issues and controversies of the 1960’s troubled Americans in such a way that people believed they should take action however they could. Despite the fact that that we are almost 50 years since the events of that time, they still continue to influence the way we live, behave, and reason. In 1964, President Lyndon Johnson said in the speech,” Great Society”,” For better or for worse, your generation has been appointed by history to deal with those problems and to lead America toward a new age. You have the chance never before afforded to any people in any age. You can help build a society where the demands of morality, and needs of the spirit, can be realized in the life of the nation.”(#10). Americans of the 1960’s most certainly did try to create that society President Lyndon Johnson spoke of. Most of the issues were resolved, however, those problems Americans fixed also ended up dividing us.
From African American and colored integration, separation, and rights, to student anti-war demonstrations, and even to women’s rights, these are all issues and themes we see today. These problems that have divided Americans have also led us in the direction we Americans have taken. Events such as the Vietnam War, Martin Luther King, Jr., Black Panther, and Malcolm X speeches, as well as student anti-war demonstrations showed Americans what was truly happening around them and caused them to make a decision on what they would do about the things going on around them. The Vietnam War and the anti-war demonstrations was perhaps one of the main issues that divided America completely.
As the war in Vietnam dragged on, many college and university students began to question the United States’ involvement in Vietnam. More and more grew anxious as they were drafted to fight in this war they knew little about. Anti-war posted such as ”(#15), began to pop up. As the war raged on, Protestors began to gather in extremely large numbers around various cities to express their frustration. Things soon flared up as riots began breaking out. Despite the large number of people that were against the war, there were also a large amount of people who were for the war. Vice President Spiro Agnew, one of the protesters against the anti-war individuals, said this” By accepting the unbridled protest as a way of life, we have tacitly suggested that the great issues of our time are best decided by posturing and shouting matches in the street.”” We have… a group of self-proclaimed saviors of the American soul at work today. Relentless in their criticism of intolerance in America, they themselves are intolerant of those who differ with their views.”(#18). Even though it’s been over 40 years, the Vietnam War still continues to divide us. Senator John Kerry is a Vietnam War veteran who later became an anti-war advocate. He showed his opposition for the war. When running for president, his past anti-war efforts were continually brought up. Those who voted against John Kerry for being an anti-war advocate, when the United States was in a war itself, fueled the opposition even more.
Another one of the main problems that divided Americans in the 1960’s was civil rights issues. For years, the United States had segregated colored people from White people. The “separate but equal” phrase was also nowhere in effect. Despite previous efforts made by African Americans, normal integration within society and equal rights under the law was still out of reach. In 1956, 100 Southern United States Congressmen and