Social Changes in the 60s

Social Changes in the 60’s

Many social changes that were addressed in the 1960s are still the issues being confronted
today. the ‘60s was a decade of social and political upheaval. in spite of all the turmoil,
there were some positive results: the civil rights revolution, john f. Kennedy’s bold vision of
a new frontier, and the breathtaking advances in space, helped bring about progress and
prosperity. however, much was negative: student and anti-war protest movements, political
assassinations, and ghetto riots excited american people and resulted in lack of respect for
authority and the law.

The decade began under the shadow of the cold war with the soviet union, which was aggravated
by the u-2 incident, the berlin wall, and the cuban missile crisis, along with the space race
with the ussr.

The decade ended under the shadow of the viet nam war, which deeply divided americans and their
allies and damaged the country’s self-confidence and sense of purpose.

Even if you weren’t alive during the ‘60s, you know what they meant when they said, "tune in,
turn on, drop out." you know why the nation celebrates Martin luther king, jr.’s birthday. all
of the social issues are reflected in today’s society: the civil rights movement, the student
movement, space exploration, the sexual revolution, the environment, medicine and health, and
fun and fashion.

The Civil Rights Movement

The momentum of the previous decade’s civil rights gains led by rev. Martin luther king, jr.
carried over into the 1960s. but for most blacks, the tangible results were minimal. only a
minuscule percentage of black children actually attended integrated schools, and in the south,
"jim crow" practices barred blacks from jobs and public places. New groups and goals were
formed, new tactics devised, to push forward for full equality. as often as not, white
resistance resulted in violence. this violence spilled across tv screens nationwide. the
average, neutral american, after seeing his/her tv screen, turned into a civil rights

Black unity and white support continued to grow. in 1962, with the first large-scale public
protest against racial discrimination, rev. Martin luther king, jr. Gave a dramatic and
inspirational speech in washington, d.c. After a long march of thousands to the capital. the
possibility of riot and bloodshed was always there, but the marchers took that chance so that
they could accept the responsibilities of first class citizens. "the negro," King said in this
speech, "lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material
prosperity and finds himself an exile in his own land." King continued stolidly: "it would be
fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment and to underestimate the
determination of the negro. this sweltering summer of the negro’s legitimate discontent will
not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality." when King came to the
end of his prepared text, he swept right on into an exhibition of impromptu oratory that was
catching, dramatic, and inspirational.

"I have a dream," King cried out. the crowd began cheering, but king, never pausing, brought
silence as he continued, "i have a dream that one day on the red hills of georgia the sons of
former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at the table
of brotherhood."

"I have a dream," he went on, relentlessly shouting down the thunderous swell of applause,
"that even the state of mississippi, a state sweltering with people’s injustices, sweltering
with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. i have
dream," cried King for the last time, "that my four little children will one day live in a
nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their

Everyone agreed the march was a success and they wanted action now! but, now! remained a long
way off. president kennedy was never able to mobilize sufficient support to pass a civil rights
bill with teeth over the opposition of segregationist southern members of congress. but after
his assassination, president johnson, drawing on the kennedy legacy and on the press coverage
of civil rights marches and protests, succeeded where kennedy had failed.

However, by the summer of 1964, the black revolution had created its own crisis of disappointed
expectations. rioting by urban blacks was to be a feature of every "long, hot, summer" of the

In 1965, King and other black leaders wanted to