I suggested that the author push their analysis a little further, explaining their argument more as they go but this is very good:
The sixties forever changed society. Had it not been for the sixties the world that we know would be unrecognizable. Women would not be the driving force they are today in the work field and not only African Americans but all minorities would not have equal opportunities and voices in society. The sixties started out peacefully but by the end they were full of not only protests but organized protests. Some were peaceful others while others were not. People protested civil rights, women’s rights, and the war in Vietnam. The “hippie” movement also began in the sixties challenging the mindset and values of every generation that came before them.
The sixties were finally the time for Civil Rights to be achieved but it did not obviously come easily. African Americans still struggled with the enforcement of rights previously given. They had the rights “on paper” but not in the reality of day to day life. In 1961 CORE (Congress of Racial Equality) sponsored a freedom ride. They were trying to test the outlawing of segregation in bus and train stations. They were attacked and told by the president to stop. In 1962 James Meredith tried to enroll in an all-white university (where he did eventually attend and graduate). A mob attacked his group of protection the night before he could enroll and killed two and injured 375. And in 1963 Martin Luther King Jr began his protest in Birmingham, he vowed to bring nationally raise racial injustice awareness. He protested for integration of public facilities and the opening of jobs for African Americans. When he was arrested 6000 children protested in his and other jailed protesters place. Police hosed them down with high-pressure water hoses and used police dogs and clubs on the children. All of this was televised. King had achieved his goal, the movement got national attention and put the nation in an up-roar. The civil rights movement now had the nation’s attention and support, not only from African Americans but from white Americans as well. Soon after equal access to public accommodations were given to African Americans. On August 28 Martin Luther King Jr delivered his iconic “I have a dream” speech.
This speech signified hope in America. A hope that still holds true today. It infused America with passion of equality of men. It gave America and its citizens something to strive for. Freedom, social justice and nonviolence. He quoted scripture which helped drive home the message he was delivering and stir hearts. With his assassination, he became a martyr for the cause making it even more powerful.
The women’s rights movement also gained momentum during the sixties. Women had been fighting for equal/better rights for decades. With WWII thought and then Civil Rights, women’s rights took a back seat. That changed once Civil Rights were granted. It was now women’s turn. Books such as The Feminine Mystique signified women’s unrest with how society still viewed them. Society still saw women as the weaker sex whose predominant roll was to be a homemaker who stayed home to care for her children. Finally, in 1964 the Civil Rights Act made it illegal to discriminate in employment based on gender. Women demanded equal wages for equal work and other things that were unfair to women. During the sixties the introduction of the pill for birth control occurred. This was critical in that it enabled women to plan for families better and if they chose to, to focus on their career if they wanted to instead.
The protest to the Vietnam war began in 1965 and quickly spread across the nation. Most of the protests in reality were completely peaceful with only some of them becoming violent. The culmination of the protest finally occurred in 1968 when two groups, the SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) and African American radicals joined forces. The two groups gained control of five buildings for eight days before police could regain control. This caused more student sit-ins in more than 100 colleges. Ironically enough most of the students involved in these protests were students who were not draft eligible because they were enrolled in school. In protest to the war, a lot of young men became draft dodgers. They escaped being drafted into the war and created slogans such as “Hell, no, we won’t go”. They believed we had no business being a part of this war. These sit ins spawned the cultural uprising of the 60s and started the hippie movement. Youth were tired of being told what to do and how to live. They finally found their voice and knew how to take a stand.
The upcoming generation was tired of the materialism of the past and wanted a change. Music was an extremely influential part of the 60s. It displayed societies shift in morals. Morals were no longer clean cut and pro America. Music of the day became about sex and drugs and in protest of the war, it challenged what was previously acceptable to society. Popular music themes were peace, love one another, as well as sexual promiscuity and drugs. The most iconic event of the decade occurred in New York at Woodstock. 40,000 young people there joined for three days where they listened to music and indulged in drugs and public sex.
Had it not been for each of these events and social shifts society would be drastically different. African Americans could possibly still be ostracized simple due to the color of their skin. With population as it is today, had segregation continued our country would be split. It would be two societies in one, minorities in one (the less advantaged half), whites in another. Society might still view a women’s role to be predominately in the home. The concept of a woman choosing to focus on work instead of raising a family would be unheard of. This social shift made the sixties the most influential decade of the last century.