Dissent in the Heartland: The Sixties at Indiana University

Dissent in the Heartland: The Sixties at Indiana University

Dissent in the Heartland: The Sixties at Indiana University

Dissent in the Heartland: The Sixties at Indiana University

Synopsis

This grassroots view of student activism in the 1960s chronicles the years of protest at one Midwestern university. Located in a region of farmland, conservative politics, and traditional family values, Indiana University was home to the antiwar protestors, civil rights activists, members of the counterculture, and feminists who helped change the heart of Middle America. Its students made their voices heard on issues from such local matters as dorm curfews and self-governance to national issues of racism, sexism, and the Vietnam War. Their recognition that the personal was the political would change them forever. The protest movement they helped shape would reach into the heart-land in ways that would redefine higher education, politics, and cultural values.

Based on research in primary sources, interviews, and FBI files, Dissent in the Heartland reveals the Midwestern pulse of the Sixties, beating firmly, far from the elite schools and urban centers of the East and West.

Excerpt

Since Dissent in the Heartland was first published in 2002, America has changed in ways that few of the activists at Indiana University (IU) in the 1960s could have imagined. Many of the causes they fought for and the policies they struggled to make possible have become more or less real. Others remain on the horizon for future generations to grapple with. the war in Vietnam did end, only to be followed by a series of conflicts never named as wars. the civil rights movement achieved its most dramatic goal when Americans elected the first African American president, but segregated schools and communities remain very much a part of our landscape. Presently, the women’s movement can claim one of its own as the Democratic nominee for the highest office, yet women continue to earn less than their male counterparts and dominate the poorest populations along with their children. Roe v. Wade (1973) made abortion legal, but continuing conservative attacks have left large numbers of women without accessible providers. Marriage equality for same-sex and transgendered citizens is legal at the same time that homophobia rears its ugly head in acts of violence and hatred.

Since 2002, I spent several years teaching American history and culture, including a course on the 1960s that usually drew a respectable number of students. I was encouraged by the continued interest in a period of history that I had studied and written about, though at the same time I was sometimes troubled by the misconceptions that popular culture had presented to many students about that decade. Like a wet blanket at a beach party, I tried to describe the very dark periods that many Americans lived through while simultaneously injecting the sense of humor and creativity that kept activists sane and productive. Contrary to television shows and films, many . . .

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