Americans were tired of their rights being overlooked by the end of the 1950’s. The Cold War created paranoia against communist beliefs and the government’s control over morality and “American” values seemed to plant the seed for the young generation to rebel. Protests against the violation of civil rights, racism, and the Vietnam War led to an inhibited society ready for sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll. Music, not only went through one of the biggest transformations in style, but it also created an outlet for people to express their discontent with the government through radio stations, protests and public concerts. Thus the decade of the 1960’s was a time of change from politics to the American culture that impacted the decades to come and still has an impact on the present day.
One of the main changes that occurred in the 1960’s was in relation to the civil rights of the American people. The civil rights movement peaked in the United States around the 1960’s causing major protests and riots that continued all throughout the decade and well into the mid 1970’s. The civil rights ranged from LGBT rights, which are still being debated to this day, to women’s rights for gender and sexual equality. In the decade of 1950’s, women were expected to be the perfect wife who attended the house and nurtured the children. Yes, women did start to get education degrees, but most of them attended college for the mere sake of finding the ideal husband to form a family. As idealistic as this sounds, many wives were asking themselves “Is this it?” and many “were desperately anxious and dissatisfied, mostly because of the crushing commitment to home and community (P. 9, Anderson). One of the prominent female musician of the 1960’s, Janis Joplin, in her song “Bye Bye Baby” sings how she’s going to leave her honey for her “living standard” and to “move uptown”. Women then wanted to make a stand and began to form different groups and organizations to deal with their various issues. Due to these organizations, laws were passed such as the Equal Pay Act signed by J. F. Kennedy, which prohibited wage discrimination for “equal work for jobs” (P. 36, Anderson). These acts and laws had many loopholes and they took time for it to make a noticeable impact towards women’s rights.
Not only were women seeking equality, but also the gay community. Gay rights came into play towards the end of the 1960’s when at the peak of the time everything was being questioned. Homosexuality, bisexuality and transgender people were completely shunned from society before this time. They were thought to be ill and the medical community “debated how to treat them” and “make them normal heterosexuals” (P. 11, Anderson). As the song “Have I the Right” from the Honeycombs say “have I the right to love you?” questioning the right to love from a man to another man. Showing any sign or public display of homosexuality was prohibited in 49 states, 7 of those the crime was “punishable by castration” (P. 152, Anderson) and was definitely not acceptable in the military service or the government employees. People were starting to realize their sexual freedom and so formed over 50 groups in the late 1960’s, of which held gay pride parades and led marches in New York and in Washington D.C.
Aside from the civil rights of women and the gay community that were being fought for, discrimination against African Americans came into play in the 1960’s. Although the end of the Civil War led to slavery being abolished, many rights towards equality, specifically involving race, were not being mandated. Racism, specifically against African Americans, became a very big political issue starting from the 1950’s continuing on to the 1960’s and 1970’s. The Jim Crow segregation law of “separate but equal” sparked up the interest of many, particularly in Southern states where state laws of segregating public spaces were enforced. A national poll in that time