Hist 362 paper 2 The Impact of the Youth on the Anti-War Movement
The youth generation of the 1960’s grew up in the houses of the affluent society, hating the conformity and content nature of their parents. These parents lived through the Great Depression and WWII and had appreciated the opportunity for affluence when it was presented to them. However, this new generation was not content with the society is was born into and sought to change it, and so they rebelled against many of the ideals of the “greatest generation”. This forced the youth to begin to rethink the questions and problems of their society, sometimes using drugs, music, and love to open their minds. This allowed for a new mindset to set in with a new set of ideals such as; anti-anti-communism, sentiments of anti-war, anti-consumerism, and overall love and happiness. The youth had a greater influence on the issues of society that they were involved in, such as dodging the draft or fighting in Vietnam. The anti-war movement’s impact on the U.S during the Late 1960’s can be attributed to the “Young people speaking their minds”1 during this period, this generation was born with higher education, counter culture, media, and a large generational gap from affluent society to fuel their influence. The chaos of this decade was so unexpected and new to everyone, Neil Young sings “There's something happening here, what it is ain't exactly clear”2 to describe the uniqueness of the time. This younger generation’s support for the anti-war movement comes from using the generational gap or being college educated to form these ideas, having the counter culture movement for additional support, and the TV and radio to broadcast their messages across the nation. They did not always agree on which solution to a given problem would be best, and so this led to the creation of different youth groups with similar end goals of change but very different methods.
This young generation had three times more college students than the previous generation, partly due to the large amounts of draft dodgers and women enrolling in college during the mid-late 1960’s. After growing up in a strict house of rules, this generation went to college only to be met with more rules and regulation to keep them in line. The Universities took on the responsibilities of “in loco parentis” to continue to parent the students in place of their mother and father. They put in place curfew rules, restricted guests, same-sex dorms only, etc, to try and keep the status quo of the generation beforehand. However, this only resulted in organized rebellion by college students and often an over-reaction by some universities3.
The Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) was established in 1962 by University of Michigan students. This anti-violence college organized group wrote the Port Huron statement in 1964 which outlined their ideals for anti-war, anti-anti-communism, social and political responsibility, independence and uniqueness among men as well as anti conformity and anti consumerism. They were dedicated to “replace power rooted in possession, privilege, or circumstance by power and uniqueness rooted in love, reflectiveness, reason and creativity”4. By 1966 the SDS had 25,000 members across U.S college campuses establishing a new leftist ideal that was anti-war unlike the old left. The SDS helped organize the Berkeley free speech movement in the fall of 1964 in response to the dean banning the tabling of political issues on campus, denying the students free speech. The movement gathered more than 7,000 people, forcing the dean to remove those rules5. The SDS made ending the Vietnam war its top priority and in April of 1964 they organized a national demonstration against the war in Washington D.C which attracted 25,000 anti-war protesters. They also established “teach-ins” across college campuses where students would gather to learn the truth about the Vietnam war, the largest