The Movement and the Sixties

The Movement and the Sixties

The Movement and the Sixties

The Movement and the Sixties


It began in 1960 with the Greensboro sit-ins. By 1973, when a few Native Americans rebelled at Wounded Knee and the U.S. Army came home from Vietnam, it was over. In between came Freedom Rides, Port Huron, the Mississippi Summer, Berkeley, Selma, Vietnam, the Summer of Love, Black Power, the Chicago Convention, hippies, Brown Power, and Women's Liberation--The Movement--in an era that became known as The Sixties. Why did millions of Americans become activists; why did they take to the streets? These are questions Terry Anderson explores in The Movement and The Sixties, a searching history of the social activism that defined a generation of young Americans and that called into question the very nature of "America." Drawing on interviews, "underground" manuscripts colleceted at campuses and archives throughout the nation, and many popular accounts, Anderson begins with Greensboro and reveals how one event built upon another and exploded into the kaleidoscope of activism by the early 1970s. Civil rights, student power, and the crusade against the Vietnam War composed the first wave of the movement, and during and after the rip tides of 1968, the movement changed and expanded, flowing into new currents of counterculture, minority empowerment, and women's liberation. The parades of protesters, along with schocking events--from the Kennedy assassination to My Lai--encouraged other citizens to question their nation. Was America racist, imperialist, sexist? Unlike other books on this tumultuous decade, The Movement and The Sixties is neither a personal memoir, nor a treatise on New Left ideology, nor a chronicle of the so-called leaders of the movement. Instead, it is a national history, a compelling and fascinating account of a defining era that remains a significant part of our lives today.


The seeds of the crisis of the 1960s lay in the 1940s.

Godfrey Hodgson, America in Our Time

I am going to look at the Fifties, then, as a seedbed as well as a cemetery.

Todd Gitlin, The Sixties

In January 1960 Tom Mathews was running for president of his high school class in California. His campaign slogan, he admitted, was not inspiring: "Vote for Tom--He's a Real Good Guy." "That's the way we were," Mathews reminisced, the "first stirrings of the '60s were innocent. . . . Around my high school, guys were still padding the halls in saddle shoes and humming 'Sh-Boom.' A nice girl was a virgin who didn't smoke cigarettes. Ideology? No one had even heard of it. There were no issues. We were suspended closer to the Age of Sinatra than the Age of Aquarius."

Since the sixties many have wondered about the reasons for social activism during that turbulent decade, and many activists have written memoirs or participant histories which begin by examining their early years, the postwar era, in an attempt to answer and examine what events or issues in the fifties had an impact on why they became activists in the sixties. This is a personal endeavor, for what seemed important to a black college student at North Carolina A&T College in 1960 might not be relevant to a white student at the University of Michigan teach-in during the spring semester of 1965, to a Yippie at the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago, to a Chicano Brown Beret at the Los Angeles riot of 1970, or to a working woman marching for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment in 1973. In their own ways, all thought of themselves as part of the movement. Why someone got involved, why individuals . . .

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