Defining the Era of the 1960s | Free Essay Example

Defining the Era of the 1960s

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Topic: History
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Introduction

Scholars and archeologists use several events, objects, and fads to analyze the issues associated with the 1960s. This era is defined by many events and upheavals that changed the future of America. My team of archeologists has made a unique discovery. The discovery unveils several items that define the era of the 1960s.

This report presents a time capsule containing several objects that define the era of the 1960s. The events identified in this report include the Assassination of Martin Luther Junior, the Women’s Liberation Movement, Bob Dylan’s “With God on Our Side”, the Civil Rights Movement, and Jacob Lawrence’s “Soldiers and Students”.

Time Capsule: Five Items Defining the Era of the 1960s

In 1960, John F. Kennedy promised “the most admirable domestic agenda during his presidential campaign” (Katz, 2008, p. 192). John Kennedy also used the New Frontier Reforms to eliminate every form of injustice in the United States. Many Americans “strongly believed that the nation was at the dawn of a Golden Age” (Finlayson, 2012, p. 45).

However, this dream did not become a reality. The era of the 1960s presented numerous challenges and obstacles that appeared to tear the country apart. The events presented are still relevant and informative in 2325.

The Civil Rights Movement

The first item found in my time capsule is the Civil Rights Movement. This historical event shows clearly that the American society struggled with institutionalized injustice and racial discrimination.

Many African Americans came together in order to secure the required legal recognition. Throughout the 1960s, many African Americans engaged in civil disobediences and nonviolent protests. These upheavals encouraged different local, state, and federal governments to respond accordingly. The Civil Rights Movement also encouraged the government to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

This legislation banned every form of discrimination. This archeological discovery shows clearly that the Civil Rights Movement was a coalition of many citizens and local groups. These groups used a wide range of strategies in an attempt to achieve their goals. The activists focused on “institutional, violent, illegal, legal, and non-violent strategies” (Finlayson, 2012, p. 45). However, the passage of different laws did not address the challenges facing different minority groups.

The Women’s Liberation Movement

The era of the 1960s presented new opportunities to many American women. The “life of a normal American woman was miserable before 1960” (Finlayson, 2012, p. 73). According to Joseph (2009, p. 759), “many women lacked basic rights and liberties”. They also encountered numerous challenges such as workplace discrimination and abuse. These challenges propelled the Women’s Liberation Movement. This movement made it easier for many women to focus on their goals.

Many women no longer wanted to be treated as sex objects. During the period, many people “measured the worth of a woman using her charm or physical attractiveness” (Katz, 2008, p. 203). It is agreeable that the 1960s made it easier for women to achieve more rights. Many women were able to get new employment opportunities and domestic rights.

A number of scholars strongly believe that the events of the 1960s made it easier for more women to achieve their objectives. However, it has taken long for women to realize most of their potentials and goals.

Assassination of Martin Luther Jr. and Bobby Kennedy

The assassination of Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King Junior created a new upheaval in the United States. The two individuals were the most visible protesters during the period. These leftists always used nonviolent strategies in order to deal with racial inequality. Martin Luther also focused on different challenges such as poverty and the Vietnam War. He presented powerful speeches that encouraged more people to focus on their rights.

The assassination of these two leaders encouraged more people to engage in nationwide protests (Katz, 2008). Martin Luther’s efforts and contributions led to the passage of the Civil Rights Acts of 1968. Many historians “believe that the assassination of Martin Luther King is believed to have been a conspiracy pioneered by the American government” (Joseph, 2009, p. 771).

The “assassination shows clearly that many leaders were unhappy with the progression of different minority groups” (Joseph, 2009, p. 771). It is also agreeable that the event contributed a lot to the dull history of the American nation.

Jacob Lawrence’s “Soldiers and Students”

Jacob Lawrence is known for illustrating the history of African Americans using narrative paintings. One of his masterpieces is “Soldiers and Students”. This painting portrays the challenges encountered by different African American students during the Civil Rights Movement. This painting depicts the violence and unrest experienced in different cities throughout the decade.

The society forced many African Americans to accept their pathetic situations. This situation forced them to fight for their rights using both violent and non-violent strategies (Collard, 2009). Jacob Lawrence’s painting shows how brutality, injustice, and inequality had become common in the United States throughout the era.

Soldiers and Student
Fig 1: “Soldiers and Students” by Jacob Lawrence. (Opaque Watercolor): 57 x 77.3 cm. Hood Museum of Art, New Hampshire. Web.

Bob Dylan’s “With God on Our Side”

The song “With God on Our Side” by Bob Dylan examined the unique challenges that faced America during the 1960s. The lyrics of this song combined “several aspects and values in order to analyze the true meaning of patriotism” (Candaele, 2014, p. 8).

This anti-war song also reexamined the issues associated with the infamous Vietnam War. Such songs were common during the period. The songs also explored the realities of the Cold War. Most of “these songs propelled the pulse of collective dissent in the United States” (Candaele, 2014, p. 11). The song shows clearly that many American musicians focused on various anti-war themes.

Conclusion

The era of the 1960s was characterized by numerous expectations and developments. However, most of the minority groups such as women and African Americans were unable to achieve their goals. The youth neutralized the period “by embracing new practices and cultural behaviors that redefined the future of the United States” (Candaele, 2014, p. 14). The government continued to fight an unending war with its citizens. This fact explains why “the community lay in tatters by the end of the decade” (Joseph, 2009, p. 764).

This discovery shows clearly that the events of the decade left a mixed legacy. For instance, the era presented new achievements such as empowerment and improvement of civil rights. The era also resulted in resentment and polarization. Many people began to identify themselves with their socio-cultural and racial groups. The above events show clearly that the decade became a turning point in America’s political history. In conclusion, the Golden Age anticipated by many Americans at the beginning of the decade never materialized.

Reference List

Candaele, K. (2014). The Sixties and Protest Music. American History Online, 1(2), 1-16.

Collard, S. (2009). Jacob Lawrence: A Painter’s Story. New York, NY: Marshall Cavendish.

Finlayson, R. (2012). We Shall Overcome: The History of the American Civil Rights Movement. New York, NY: Wiley.

Joseph, P. (2009). The Black Power Movement: A State of the Field. The Journal of American History, 1(1), 751-776.

Katz, M. (2008). Why Don’t American Cities Burn Very Often? Journal of Urban History, 34(1), 185-208.