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About the Era

Fig 1: Sit-In at Woolworth’s, Greensboro, North Carolina

  • First major Civil Rights event of the 1960s. Four students ordered at a lunch counter and were not served because it was for whites only. They stayed there until closing time and returned the following day to do the same. Over time, similar protests began to be staged across the state. Eventually, the establishment was desegregated. The sit-in at Woolworths was the first example of a “sit-in” being used as a protest tactic, one of the most popular non-violent protest tactics employed during the subsequent decade. This event sparked several other forms of nonviolent protests against segregation including “wade-ins” and “read-ins” at segregated beaches and libraries.

Fig 2: U-2 Spy Plane Incident

  • The U.S.S.R. shot down an American spy plane that was conducting secret reconnaissance behind the Iron Curtain and captured its pilot, Francis G. Powers. The event was a great embarrassment to the Eisenhower administration and proved American espionage, sparking an international diplomatic crisis at the height of the Cold War and prompting increased tensions and distrust between the U.S. and U.S.S.R.

Fig 3: JFK Elected 35th President of U.S.

  • Democratic candidate and senator from Massachusetts, John F. Kennedy defeated incumbent Richard Nixon, the Republican vice president under Eisenhower, in the closest presidential election in American history. The 1960 election followed the first televised presidential debates, which were an integral factor in determining public favor. JFK was young, handsome, charismatic, and represented a ‘new hope’ for America. His political focus was on Civil Rights and domestic reform as well as improving foreign relations and easing Cold War tensions. The American public believed the Kennedy administration would usher in a new era of peace and international diplomacy.

Fig 4: Bay of Pigs Invasion

  • The discovery of Soviet missiles in Cuba sparked national concern and Cold War tensions escalated quickly as the U.S/Soviet arms race came to a head. The United States staged a covert military invasion of Cuba intended to overthrow the communist government of Fidel Castro, which resulted in overwhelming failure—U.S. forces were defeated within three days by Cuban military forces. The event further destabilized relations between the U.S. and U.S.S.R, created severe enmity between Cuba and the U.S, caused a great deal of political embarrassment, and resulted in escalation of revolutionary action in Cuba.

Fig 5: JFK announces the U.S. will reach the moon by 1970

  • Intended to increase national morale and dispel public disapproval after the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion, the announcement cemented American involvement in the Space Race—an international competition between the U.S. and U.S.S.R rooted in the arms race—intended to prove technological superiority.

Fig 6: Berlin Wall erected

  • The Berlin Wall was a Soviet barrier between communist-controlled East Berlin and democratic West Berlin intended to keep Germans from crossing over the border into other non-communist countries. It became a symbol of the restrictions to democracy that afflicted millions around the globe during the Cold War and remained in place until 1989. Its presence indicated a display of Soviet aggression and prompted JFK to increase defense spending.

Fig 7: John Glenn becomes the first American to orbit Earth

  • Ten months after Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human in outer space, American astronaut John Glenn orbited Earth three times in his spacecraft Friendship 7. At this time, the Americans still trailed behind the Soviets in their race to the moon, but John Glenn’s successful spaceflight was a pivotal point in evaluating American ability and their potential to beat the Soviets to the moon before the end of the decade.

Fig 8: Cuban Missile Crisis

  • On October 16, 1962, it was revealed that the Soviets built missile bases on Cuba within range of the U.S, purportedly to protect Castro from the U.S. JFK demanded that the Soviets remove the missiles or risk nuclear war. The next thirteen days passed in stark fear for the American public as the U.S. government negotiated with the U.S.S.R and decided upon a course of action. On October 29, 1962, the Soviets removed the missiles and the U.S. promised not to invade Cuba. The Missile Crisis increased the widespread Cold War fear of mutually assured destruction and resulted in the creation of the Nuclear Hotline—a direct communication link between the Pentagon and the Kremlin. Marks the closest the U.S and U.S.S.R ever came to nuclear war.

Fig 9: Martin Luther King Jr. Leads March on Washington

  • 200,000 demonstrators marched to the Lincoln Memorial in a nonviolent protest in demand for Civil Rights where Baptist minister and leading Civil Rights activist MLK delivered his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech. The demonstration was preceded by similar marches in Albany, Georgia and Birmingham, Alabama which were met by police resistance, and in the case of the latter, violence. In response to mass movements and protests throughout the country, the demonstrators in Washington called for the implication of federal laws that would end segregation nationwide, allow African Americans equal employment opportunity to alleviate poverty, and grant them equality in voting. The March successfully propelled the U.S. government into decisive action in the cause of Civil Rights.

Fig 10: JFK Assassinated

  • JFK was fatally shot by ex-military sniper Lee Harvey Oswald while driving through Dallas on the way to a luncheon; he had been touring the country in order to gain political favor before he began campaigning for reelection. Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson was immediately sworn in and remained in office until 1968 after winning the 1964 election. The assassination marked a major turning point in the decade; the nation was shocked and devastated, their symbol of hope and security had been gunned down before their eyes, resulting in a significant change in public sentiment.  

Fig 11: 24th Amendment Enacted

  • First introduced under the Kennedy administration in 1962, the 24th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified under LBJ, officially declaring the poll tax unconstitutional. The poll tax was a method commonly employed after the ratification of the 15th Amendment as a means to disenfranchise the poor in presidential and state elections. The poll tax remained a pervasive problem for many African Americans and members of other minority groups who could not afford to pay the poll tax. The enactment of the 24th Amendment was a major step on the road to universal suffrage in America.

Fig 12: The Beatles appear on The Ed Sullivan Show

  • The repeated appearance of the British rock group The Beatles on the popular American television program ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’ for three weeks in a row launched the British Invasion—the increased popularity of British rock bands to American audiences. The British Invasion was representative of changing cultural tastes in America as the Baby Boomers approached college age and began to form their own opinions and pursue their own interests away from their parents and the conventional, conservative, conformist ideologies that pervaded the 1950s.

Fig 13: Civil Rights Act Passed by Congress

  • Signed into law by LBJ, the Civil Rights Act was a landmark Civil Rights victory that outlawed discrimination on the basis of race, color, creed, sex, or national origin, prohibited segregation nationally, and ended the unequal application of voter registration requirements. The Civil Rights Act was one of the most long-awaited political reforms of the Civil Rights movement, making it one of the most crucial documents pertaining to equality signed into law in the 20th century.

Fig 14: Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters depart on their cross-country road trip to New York

  • Author, American psychonaut, and one of the most outspoken proponents of the exploration and potential of psychedelic drugs, Ken Kesey, departed from his home in La Honda, California with a group of friends—The Merry Pranksters—en route to New York where Timothy Leary and his associates were conducting their own experiments using psychedelic drugs—most notably LSD. The purpose of the trip had been to compare notes and methodologies related to the use of and experimentation with psychedelic drugs. Kesey and Leary were the two most prominent figures advocating the use of psychedelic drugs for the purposes of consciousness-expansion during the 1960s and largely responsible for its introduction to popular culture.

Fig 15: Gulf of Tonkin Resolution is passed in Congress

  • Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution in response to reports of North Vietnamese boats firing at the American destroyer USS Maddox in the Gulf of Tonkin, Vietnam. Although the destroyer sustained no damage as a result, the actions were perceived as a sign of open aggression by communist North Vietnam. The passage of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution marked the official beginning of direct U.S. involvement in the Vietnam Conflict after several decades of unofficial involvement in the French-Vietnamese conflicts and the civil dispute between North and South Vietnam. The Gulf of Tonkin allowed LBJ to authorize attacks on North Vietnam and increase U.S. troop involvement without a formal declaration of war and despite strong public opposition.

Fig 16: Economic Opportunity Act

  • The Economic Opportunity Act was part of LBJ’s Great Society Program of domestic reform designed to alleviate economic hardship and enact a ‘war on poverty’. The passage of the act led to the creation of VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America), Head Start, and the Job Corps in order to combat poverty in all populations around the country.

Fig 17: Malcolm X Assassinated

  • Human rights activist and champion of the Muslim faith in America, Malcolm X, was fatally shot by three members of The Nation of Islam while preparing to speak at an OAAU (Organization for Afro-American Unity) address in Manhattan. Malcolm X had been a major figure in the Nation of Islam before renouncing their messages of black separatism and superiority and began advocating racial equality and the importance for black Americans to reconnect with their African heritage. Malcolm X is considered to be one of the most influential African Americans of the 20th century and the ideals he espoused strongly influenced the rise of the Black Power movement in the late 1960s.

Fig 18: LBJ Announces Troop Buildup in Vietnam

  • Following LBJ’s announcement of troop buildup in Vietnam, the number of troops rose from 75,000 to 125,000 and the number of monthly draft calls rose from 17,000 to 35,000. The escalation of the U.S. presence in Vietnam prompted immediate angry responses from communist leaders around the globe who viewed the act as a form of unprovoked American aggression. Most political appointees favored LBJ’s decision while public support for the war was significantly lower. The strongest opposition to the war in Vietnam came from college students who numbered nearly 6 million—the highest college enrollment in American history at that time. Vietnam was also the first televised war and gruesome, unavoidable news reports that showed the carnage of the war led to the dwindling support of older Americans. A great number of Americans also strongly disapproved of the draft which they considered to be too broad and unfair—African Americans and the working poor were the most likely to be drafted since educational and professional deferments were available to the middle and upper class.

Fig 19: Voting Rights Act of 1965

  • The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was a landmark piece of federal legislation that prohibited racial discrimination in voting and was designed to enforce the civil rights guaranteed to African Americans in the 15th and 24th Amendment. It prohibited state and local governments from enacting any law that would restrict the voting rights of African Americans or other minority groups. The literacy tests that were used throughout history to impede suffrage were outlawed along with all other devices intended to disenfranchise otherwise eligible voters.

Fig 20: Watts Race Riots Begin

  • The Watts Race Riots, six days of civil unrest in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles, were incited when police arrested a black man, Marquette Frye, for reckless driving and a physical dispute broke out between Frye, his brother, and mother and the police. After reports began circulating that the officers had struck the men and kicked a pregnant woman before arresting them, angry mobs took to the streets of Los Angeles. Racial tensions ran deep in Watts as the residents of the neighborhood had been subjected to residential discrimination, exclusion from equal employment opportunities, and police brutality in the past and were deeply unsatisfied with the conditions faced by African Americans in the city. Widespread riots, protests, assaults, and arson dominated the conflict between the Watts residents and the police, and the LAPD was forced to call in the National Guard to quell the mayhem. Over 3,000 people were arrested, 1,000 were injured, and 34 were killed as a result of the riots. The riots sparked national conversation regarding the inferior conditions endured by African Americans across the country despite the presence of federal legislation and highlighted the importance of state and local enforcement.

Fig 21: Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters hold the first Acid Test

  • Following their cross-country expedition the year prior, Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters began hosting a series of free-admission public events coined ‘Acid Tests’ in which attendees ingested LSD, now popularly coined ‘acid’. The Acid Tests were the free-form west-coast version of the Leary experiments which were conducted in a structured and scientific environment which Kesey felt stifled the potentialities of the drug. The first Acid Test was held at the private resident of Ken Babbs, a member of the Merry Pranksters, and resulted in a significant turnout. Fourteen Acid Tests followed in various locations along the California coast and hosted live music by the Grateful Dead—then a fledgling band largely unknown outside of San Francisco. Kesey’s Acid Tests and public influence greatly contributed to the spread of the youth counterculture movement in California and the attribution of San Francisco as its mecca.

Fig 22: National Organization for Women (NOW) is founded

  • Along with civil rights and anti-war concerns, the cause of women’s rights dominated liberal public activism in the 1960s. Preceded by such federal legislation such as The Commission on the Status of Women under the Kennedy administration and the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Fig 13.), NOW was founded to increase awareness of the lack of enforcement of the new federal edicts, dispel the popular conception of the ‘domestic woman’, and advocate full equality between men and women, primarily in education and in the workplace. NOW was a powerful force in granting women equal access to public places formerly designated male-only and made the empowerment of women part of the national conversation for decades.

Fig 23: LSD is declared illegal in California

  • Widespread irresponsible use of the drug and several cases of ‘bad trips’ largely due to poor amateur manufacture led to the passage of a bill making the possession of LSD illegal in the state of California. The use and advocacy of LSD was a large tenet of the youth counterculture movement and the new law sparked several non-violent demonstrations throughout the state, most notably in San Francisco. Despite the statewide prohibition of the drug, its manufacture and use increased substantially in the following years. On October 24, 1968, possession of LSD was made illegal throughout the U.S.

Fig 24: Acid Test Graduation

  • After a series of arrests for the possession of marijuana and skipping bail, Ken Kesey announced from prison that he would hold a final Acid Test—an Acid Test Graduation—while he was out on parole. The event was supposedly intended to be a ‘graduation’ from the use of acid; however, many in attendance were under the influence of the drug. The Graduation was the last public event held by Kesey and the Merry Pranksters and clearly evidenced that in the hippie community, LSD was here to stay.

Fig 25: Human Be-In

  • The Human Be-In was a general admission event held in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, California. The event hosted key members of the hippie counterculture including Timothy Leary who gave his iconic, “Turn On, Tune In, and Drop Out” speech, several famous beatnik writers and poets from the Bay Area, and local rock bands such as Jefferson Airplane and The Grateful Dead. The Be-In was an exposition and celebration of counterculture ideals and attracted a crowd of over 20,000 people to the city, catapulting San Francisco and the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood in particular to national attention as the epicenter of hippie counterculture.

Fig 26: Monterey International Pop Festival opens in Monterey, California

  • The Monterey International Pop Festival was a three-day concert held at the Monterey County Fairgrounds in California. The festival marks the unofficial beginning of the Summer of Love in California and was attended by a range of 25,000 to 90,000 people over its three-day run. It was the first major counterculture music festival of the 1960s and is revered for historic performances from Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and The Who as well as bringing the hippie subculture into the mainstream.

Fig 27: Summer of Love

  • The Summer of Love was a several-month-long social event which involved the mass migration of young people to key cities of the counterculture movement. While the gathering in San Francisco was the most well-known, large gatherings of hippies took place in cities across the country, including Greenwich Village, New York, and across the ocean in London, England. The event is considered by many to have been the apex of the counterculture movement in which the greatest number of like-minded individuals flocked together to celebrate and share the philosophy and lifestyle embraced by hippies over the longest period of time. Haight-Ashbury received the brunt of the influx as upwards of 100,000 people arrived in the neighborhood for the summer. Although the event is considered to have been peaceful and positive, San Francisco was not able to fully accommodate the sudden increase in population, and The Summer of Love was plagued by homelessness, drug problems, and petty theft.

Fig 28: Thurgood Marshall appointed to the Supreme Court

  • Considered a massive victory for the cause of Civil Rights, the confirmation of Thurgood Marshall evidenced the success of the Movement’s various attempts at political and social equality by placing an African American man in a position of governmental authority. Marshall was appointed by LBJ to fill the vacancy left by retiring Justice Tom C. Clark. He had previously been the chief counsel of the NAACP for a term of 23 years and claimed such victories such as Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 which declared segregation unconstitutional. Marshall was a liberal voice on the Supreme Court for the next 24 years during which he challenged discrimination and inequality and was a champion of human and civil rights.

Fig 29: Tet Offensive launched

  • The Tet Offensive was a massive uprising launched by North Vietnamese and Vietcong forces against the South Vietnamese Army and their allies beginning on the Tet holiday, the Vietnamese New Year, when many South Vietnamese soldiers were on leave. The Tet Offensive consisted of a series of strategically coordinated surprise attacks against major military bases and command centers across South Vietnam that lasted from January 30th to March 28th, 1968 and was followed by two offensives of lesser strength which lasted from May 5th-June 15th, 1968 and August 9-September 23, 1968, respectively. The Tet Offensive was the largest attack conducted by either side at that point in the war and resulted in heavy casualties on both sides. The Tet Offensive shocked the American public which had been lead to believe that the end of the war was near and that the North Vietnamese forces were incapable of launching such a strong offensive. The event greatly undermined the credibility of the Johnson administration and resulted in a rapid decline of public support for the war.

Fig 30: MLK Assassinated

  • Martin Luther King Jr. was fatally shot at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee by James Earl Ray, a fugitive from the Missouri State Penitentiary. MLK had been staying in Memphis while he organized a march in support of striking African American sanitation workers who were protesting unequal wages and poor working conditions. MLK had taken part in a march on Memphis the previous week which had ended in violence and had returned in order to stage a successful demonstration. MLK’s death created a shockwave throughout the African American community and those involved in the Civil Rights Movement and created a great deal of contention between those who supported MLK’s tactics of nonviolence and civil disobedience and those who felt it increasingly necessary to respond to threats to equality with uncompromising force.

Fig 31: Anti-War student protests begin at Colombia University

  • As the American public became more and more disillusioned by the Johnson administration’s promises of a swift victory in Vietnam, protests by counterculture youth—especially on college campuses where anti-war sentiment was strongest—became more and more frequent and militant. One of the most disruptive demonstrations that took place on a college campus in the 1960s were the various student protests that led to the occupation of Colombia University buildings during the month of April, 1968. Many of the university’s students had been alarmed when documents detailing the university’s association with IDA (Institute for Defense Analyses) had been uncovered in the university library. The students demanded that the university retract its institutional membership in the IDA, and consequently, its support for the Vietnam War. Concurrently, the announcement that the university was planning on constructing a segregated gymnasium in a city-owned local park sparked a second wave of malcontent within the student body, initiating simultaneous protests over the intuition’s alleged support of racial discrimination. All protests were halted on April 30th when NYPD officers stormed the university buildings and forcibly removed the protesters which numbered roughly 140 students and 700 local sympathizers. Sporadic rallies and demonstrations followed until the university withdrew its membership in the IDA and scrapped its plans for the off-campus gymnasium. The Colombia student protests are considered to be the most powerful and effective student protests of the era.

Fig 32: RFK assassinated

  • Democratic presidential candidate and brother to former president JFK, Robert F. Kennedy, was fatally shot by anti-Zionist Sirhan Sirhan after speaking to journalists and campaign workers at a televised celebration of his recent primary victories in California and South Dakota. He had been exiting the podium through the hotel kitchen when Sirhan fired a handgun and mortally wounded Kennedy and injured five others. The event is considered to be the first major political incident in the U.S. resulting from the Arab-Israeli conflict in the Middle East. Although no substantial evidence has come to light, the event is the center of many conspiracy theories regarding the number of assassins and whether or not the CIA was involved. A strong sense of disenchantment gripped the American public following the event as a great many citizens shared the sentiment that the last of the country’s most benevolent social leaders had been killed along with the rest.

Fig 33: Democratic National Convention in Chicago disrupted by anti-war protests

  • The 1968 Democratic National Convention was held over the course of four days in Chicago and the center of violent and non-violent demonstrations and rallies which led to the disruption of the convention. The protests centered around the widespread opposition to the Vietnam War and were initiated by the Youth International Party—commonly known as Yippies—and MOBE—the National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam. President Johnson had withdrawn his candidacy for reelection due to a lack of support from the American public, creating a rift in the Democratic Party and between candidates Edward Muskie, George McGovern, and vice president Humphrey. The Chicago mayor Richard Daley approved only one out of hundreds of applications to hold rallies during the Convention, and tens of thousands of protesters descended upon Lincoln Park—about 10 miles from the site of the Convention. The police presence at Lincoln Park intended to enforce the 11:00 P.M. curfew led to violence and the assault of several protesters. Citywide protests ensued and members of the National Guard and Chicago P.D. beat, tear gassed, and arrested several protesters who had gathered in front of the Amphitheatre where the Convention was being held—almost all of whom had been protesting nonviolently. Within the Convention, the Democratic Party was hopelessly divided on many key issues—particularly the Vietnam War—and heated debates and personal attacks abounded on the Convention floor. Vice President Humphrey won the presidential nomination, and many anti-war delegates joined protesters on the following day in a candlelight vigil. 650 protesters were arrested, and eight of them—later reduced by one and dubbed ‘The Chicago Seven’—were charged with conspiracy to incite a riot and forced to stand trial; however, all convictions were later overturned.

Fig 34: Richard Nixon elected 37th President of U.S.

  • After losing to JFK in 1960, Republican senator Richard Nixon defeated democratic candidate Hubert H. Humphrey in the election of 1968. After the disastrous Democratic National Convention highlighted the deep divisions within the Democratic Party, public support for vice president Humphrey began to lose steam. Nixon was viewed as a force of stability and conservatism much needed in the country after the tumultuous events of 1968, and he guaranteed a swift end to the Vietnam War, the promise which likely secured his victory over Humphrey.  

Fig 35: Nixon announces withdrawal of 35,000 troops from Vietnam

  • When Nixon assumed the presidency in January, over 540,000 troops were stationed in Vietnam. After only five months in office, Nixon announced that he would begin U.S. troop withdrawals throughout the country facilitated by a strategy he called Vietnamization—the process of replacing American troops with Vietnamese ones—which would allow the U.S. to decrease its military presence in the country without leaving South Korea vulnerable. The withdrawal of troops and simultaneous peace negotiations between the U.S. and North Vietnam received nearly unanimous support from the American public and mollified many radical anti-war protesters across the country. Nixon would announce a series of 15 more troop withdrawals throughout his presidency, leaving only 27,000 troops in Vietnam at the war’s end in 1972.

Fig 36: Stonewall Inn Riots begin

  • Stonewall Inn, a mafia-owned gay bar in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City, was raided by police during the early morning hours of June 28, 1969. Police raids on gay bars were common at the time as openly gay patrons were rarely allowed in any establishment and retained virtually no rights under law. Police required all liquor to be confiscated, and all patrons were required to produce identification; those who were cross-dressing or who did not produce sufficient identification were arrested. Those patrons not arrested were allowed to leave; however, those released began to crowd around the establishment. After those arrested during the raid were led out to the police wagons with unwarranted force, the crowd that had gathered became violent. The rioters outnumbered the police and gathered again the following night demanding an end to gay discrimination and oppression and the legalization of gay-owned bars. The riots became front-page news and sparked an outpouring of support for the gay community, as well as demonstrations and the establishment of gay-rights organizations across the country. Today The Stonewall Inn Riots are regarded as the beginning of the Gay Rights Movement.

Fig 37: Apollo 11 launches from Kennedy Space Center

  • At the time of the Apollo 11 launch, the Soviet Union had already launched an unmanned probe in hopes to return lunar material to the Earth ahead of the U.S., but the probe, Luna 15, crashed during descent. The failure of the Soviet mission was both encouraging and frightening to Americans who dreaded a similar fate for Apollo 11. The spacecraft was launched successfully by the Saturn V rocket from Kennedy Space Center, Florida at 9:32 A.M.

Fig 38: Neil Armstrong becomes the first man to walk on the moon

  • Four days after Apollo 11 left Earth, astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon, securing the U.S. victory in the Space Race and accomplishing JFK’s mission that had been set eight years earlier. Twenty percent of the population witnessed the event via television broadcasts, and what is regarded as the most historic telephone call ever made from the White House took place when Nixon spoke with astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the surface of the moon. Armstrong, Aldrin, and their pilot Michael Collins returned safely to Earth on July 24, 1969. Despite the triumphant attitude held by many Americans regarding the Apollo 11 mission, the event spawned many protests regarding the issue of government spending on NASA and remains a point of contention among conspiracy theorists who believe the event was staged as a political stunt. Several Apollo missions followed, including the famous Apollo 13 mission the following year.

Fig 39: Manson Murders

  • The Manson murders were a series of mass murders committed by the communal cult The Manson Family, headed by Charles Manson, over the course of two nights in Los Angeles, California. After months of brainwashing, Manson ordered four of his Family members to invade the home of director Roman Polanski, formerly owned by Terry Melcher, a record producer who had rejected Manson’s work. Five occupants of the home, including Sharon Tate, Polanski’s wife, were fatally stabbed by the Family. The next night, six family members—including Manson—committed two more murders at the home of Leno LaBianca, fatally stabbing him and his wife. The gruesome murders had been Charles Manson’s attempt at inciting what he believed was an imminent, apocalyptic race war between blacks and whites, the details of which he felt had been communicated to him via the Beatles song ‘Helter Skelter’. The grisly crimes shocked the American public and were the first in a series of murders committed by several one-time members of the Manson Family, including an assassination attempt on President Gerald Ford in 1975.

Fig 40: Woodstock festival opens

  • The Woodstock Music and Art Festival, held in White Lake, New York, was the largest and most successful nonpolitical event of the youth counterculture in the 1960s. One of dozens of rock music festivals that took place during the summer of 1969, the Woodstock festival was advertised as “three days of peace and music” and attracted over 500,000 attendees over the four days it ran. The festival hosted dozens of the most popular musical acts including The Who, Janis Joplin, and Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young and catapulted acts such as Richie Havens, Santana, and Jimi Hendrix to international fame. The festival was plagued by a series of technical problems, excessive rain, and an inability to collect tickets due to the massive influx of patrons, but is today considered as one of the largest peaceful gatherings in modern history, despite fears of anti-war riots and demonstrations among local residents. Woodstock is widely regarded as the height of the hippie counterculture movement.

Fig 41: The Moratorium to End the War in Vietnam March on Washington

  • One of the largest anti-war demonstrations occurred on November 15, 1969 following the Vietnam Moratorium demonstration a month earlier in October, 1969. Over 500,000 demonstrators marched through Washington and gathered in front of the White House where folk singer and activist Pete Seeger led demonstrators in singing John Lennon’s “Give Peace a Chance”. Though it boasted strong public support, Nixon responded to the demonstration directly and refused to admit its effectiveness.

Fig 42: Altamont Free Concert opens

  • The Altamont Free Concert was a counterculture rock concert attended by 300,000 people and held at the Altamont Speedway in California. The festival was intended to be a free “second Woodstock” and featured prominent musicians such as Santana, Jefferson Airplane, Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, and the Rolling Stones. The festival is infamous for the stabbing of African American teen, Meredith Hunter, by members of the motorcycle club, The Hells Angels, who had been hired for security and the accidental deaths of three other attendees. The festival was marred by considerable violence and is considered by many to be the end of the counterculture era.

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