Takin' It to the Streets: A Sixties Reader

Takin' It to the Streets: A Sixties Reader

Takin' It to the Streets: A Sixties Reader

Takin' It to the Streets: A Sixties Reader

Synopsis

Takin' It to the Streets is a comprehensive collection of primary documents covering political, social and cultural aspects of the 1960's. Drawn from mainstream sources, little-known sixties periodicals, pamphlets and public speeches, this anthology brings together representative writings many of which have been unavailable for years or have never been reprinted, from the Port Huron Statement and Malcolm X's "The Ballot or the Bullet" to Richard Nixon's "If Mob Rule Takes Hold in the U.S." and Ronald Reagan's "Freedom versus Anarchy on Campus." Introductions and headnotes by the editors help highlight the importance of particular documents while relating them to each other and placing them within the broader context of the decade. While paying particular attention to civil rights, anti-war activity, Black power, the counter-culture, the women's and gay/lesbian struggles for recognition, the authors also take into account the conservative backlashes these sparked and thus present a balanced portrait of a tumultous era. Covering an extremely popular period of history, Takin' It to the Streets stands out as a thorough and accessible collection of documents, an authoritative reader for a decade such as America had not seen before or experienced since.

Excerpt

Images of the 1950s are distinct: white middle-class families, suburban homes, backyard barbecues, big American cars with tail fins, Little League and Girl Scouts, peace, prosperity, and harmony. So, too, the images of the 1960s: civil rights sit-ins, urban violence, antiwar demonstrations, black power salutes, hippie love-ins, draft card burnings, death and destruction in Vietnam, police riots in Chicago, obscenities, hostilities, killings at Kent State and Jackson State universities.

These decades stand in marked contrast in the collective memory, each reduced to recollections distilled from media imagery and popular stereotypes. The periods recede into history, reflections of the dominant values of their eras rather than accurate representations of the complexity of the times: the harmonious 1950s; the turbulent 1960s. We remember the eras in stark opposition, in snapshots that symbolize values and aspirations unrelated to one another.

As scholars look back at these eras, however, they understand them as complex and interrelated. The obvious tensions and anxieties of postwar America -- the cold war, fear of the atom bomb, McCarthyism and the specter of the witch-hunt -- are easily recalled; they undermine notions of a calm and peaceful era. Questions about race and gender have further demonstrated that the 1950s were not nearly so harmonious for minorities and women. We now understand more clearly the complexities of family life, the pressures on men and . . .

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