The 1960s by any standards was a time period that was revolutionary. It is a period that could be said to arouse nostalgia or bad feelings for those who were around during that time. Marwick. explains that most people agree that no matter the perspective, something avant-garde did happen in the 60s It can be described as an era of moral turpitude, radical politics, entertainment reinvention, changing family mindsets, lifestyle changes, scientific and technological advancements among other developments. This period is accredited with being historically significant as it transformed the social, political and cultural ideas. Critiques have however argued that nothing of lasting importance happened in the 60s and that it was a period of naivety and empty spectacle. This can however be countered with the many significant events that happened in the 60s and the revolutionary individuals that emerged during the period. This paper is going to examine why the 60s is labeled as a revolutionary period. The paper is going to explore significant events that happened in the 60s in order to show that the 60s was indeed a significant period.
The Sixties: A Revolutionary Period
In the 1960s there was a radical political revolution. This is mainly because of political movements such as the black civil rights movement in America, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the Vietnam War, among many others. The black civil rights movement in America reached its peak in the 60s though it had began in the 50s. This movement was a struggle by the African Americans to be granted civil rights. The movement is mostly associated with Dr. Martin Luther and his famous speech; ‘I have a dream.’ Martin Luther headed the Southern Christian Leadership Council, which organized several peaceful protests to demonstrate against discrimination of minority groups. The ‘I have a dream’ speech is still famous up to date and in 1964 Martin Luther received the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize award. He was however assassinated in 1968. The legacy of Dr. King however lives on till now and he is celebrated through the Martin Luther King Day every year on the third Monday of January. The civil rights movement of the 60s was however successful in that black people’s rights were more recognized with the enactment of the the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. President Kennedy was a radical president who sympathized with the African Americans at the time of the civil rights movement. Kennedy was at the time considered the wealthiest president in the history of the United States. His radical political strategies made him loved by many but he also attracted a few enemies. President Kennedy was assassinated in 1963; the perpetrator was said to be Lee Harvey Oswald. Oswald was however murdered before he could stand trial and up to date the world is still not very certain of the whole story behind Kennedy’s assassination. Kennedy’s assassination drew stunned reactions as people thought that the assassination was an attack on the US owing to the ongoing Cold War. President Kennedy had only been in power for two years. The Vietnam War also occurred during the 1960s. This was a bloody war that began in 1959 and ended in 1975. The war was therefore basically started in the 60s. US entered the Vietnam War in order to stop the spread of communism in the country. The US however later decided to withdraw its troops before the war was over. Most Americans protested against the war as it was seen as unnecessary and thousands of Americans had died and others had been wounded.
The 60s also saw the revolution of the entertainment industry. The British band ‘the Beatles’ became extremely popular and they broke records with the sale of their albums that have not been reached to date by most artistes. Austerlitz explains that the Beatles are rated the best selling group in history. One of the members of ‘the Beatles’, John Lennon was unfortunately assassinated in 1980, outside his home. The Beatles broke up in the 70s but still continue to enjoy fame and fortune up to date with some of their records being sold around the world. The Rolling Stones Band was also formed in 1962 in England. The band also fast became popular in North America and worldwide. The Rolling Stones became one of the most famous rock bands in history and they still produce records up to date. The Rolling Stones pushed boundaries that defined the general attitude of the 60s, and immensely revolutionizing the 1960s entertainment industry. In 1962, Marilyn Monroe who is viewed up to date as one of the greatest entertainers sang a birthday song for then President John F. Kennedy. This performance is still considered up to date very memorable; the dress that Monroe wore on that night sold for over one million dollars in 1999 at an auction. The performance also sparked rumors of an affair between Monroe and President Kennedy. It was also one of Monroe’s last public performances as she died in August 1962.
The sixties are also termed as revolutionary because of the technological advancements of the decade. There was a competition between the Soviet Union, now Russia and the U.S about who would send the first man to outer space. The Soviet Union sent Yuri Gagarin into outer space in 1961. In 1969 the first man landed on the moon; it was Neil Armstrong from America. There were also other outer space missions in the sixties. In 1960 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the female birth control contraceptive. The first heart transplant also took place in 1967 and it was performed by a doctor from South Africa.
It is very clear from the events presented that the sixties was a revolutionary period. The novel ideas that were presented then still continue to have an impact up to date. The individuals who played a big role in shaping the events of the sixties still remain significant up to date. This includes Martin Luther King, John F. Kennedy, and the Beatles, among many others. The 60s might have been viewed as flamboyant and unserious with such things as rampant abuse of hard drugs and the hippies culture; but there were many events that occurred during that decade that have shaped history as we know it.