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Counterculture Essay

1528 words - 7 pages


For the first time in American history, a large population of people of all ages, classes, and races came together to challenge the traditional institutions, traditional values in society, and "the establishment" in general. Youth, women, ethnic minorities, environmentalists, migrant workers and others caused the emergence of the counter culture. This cultural movement from 1960 to 1973 was caused by many factors. This era was one that was filled with many important events that shaped the way that Americans viewed life. Those who were unhappy with what was going on around them and took part in this social phenomenon reflected and demonstrated their attitudes, values, ...view middle of the document...

Consciousness of what they could accomplish eventually led to the organization of huge public feminist protests for abortion rights, equal pay, and, eventually, the Equal Rights Amendment. There were many things that influenced people to fight for civil rights dating all the way back to slavery, but in the sixties people realized that they could actually make changes for the better. The Vietnam War was another major factor that caused the emergence of the counter culture. The horrifying images of the Tet Offensive and other atrocious pictures from the war caused many anti-war groups and leaders to emerge. Groups such as the Doves and Students for a Democratic Society rebelled against the war and fought for peace. One specific incident would be when Richard Nixon announced the invasion of Cambodia and the need to draft 150,000 more U.S. soldiers. At Kent State University protestors launched a riot, which included fires, injuries, and even death. The environmentalists also reacted to the war in Vietnam. The use of napalm and Agent Orange outraged many people who saw forests and jungles be destroyed almost instantly. Environmentalists strived to end the war in hopes of saving the earth as well. The media was one of the main elements in the sixties that also influenced this counter culture. Media was still a rather new and growing concept in the sixties, as televisions were becoming more available and people tuned in to watch the news. It was the media that showed the scenes of the war and the protests that were taking place nationwide. The television also opened doors for those who felt that they could use it as a device to reach large masses of people. All of the different factors involved in the emergence of the counter culture made people think about life in America and what they could do to change it.
Now that people wanted to rebel and strive for change, they needed ways to reflect and demonstrate their attitudes, values, and ideals. People did this in many ways. Many people used non-violent means to get their point across. People often picketed the streets carrying signs with catchy slogans and yelling memorable phrases. In Birmingham Alabama the children marched the streets in order to get blacks registered to vote. Martin Luther King was one of the major leaders of the non-violent philosophy. In 1963 Dr. King and thousands of other marched on Washington in order to keep pressure on the Kennedy administration and Congress in providing blacks with economic opportunity, education equality, and job equality. These were just two of the many non-violent marches, protests, boycotts, and demonstrations that took place during the sixties. Although there were many non-violent methods, some turned violent and some were intended to be violent. Some people felt that violence was the only way to get things accomplished. At Kent State protestors were very destructive and violent. In the end four people were dead. From...

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