Counterculture

Issue 1

Counterculture

Kealynn Tunks, Writer/ Designer

     In the late ‘60s, some US citizens started to reject the social constructs of the ‘50s and question authority—a shift which ultimately kick-started the counterculture. It originally “stemmed from what was called ‘the new left’ in the early 1960s,” said Mrs. Squires, a U.S. history teacher at Homestead. The counterculture consisted of 3 different groups of people: hippies, preppy protestors and disgruntled Vietnam veterans. They all had one thing in common: they hated the establishment. The establishment was anybody that had power over them, such as the police force. Squires states that the people of this time “want[ed] their voices to be heard.”

     Hippies are undoubtedly the most popular and most talked about group of people from this time. They were strong advocates of non-violence and peace. They were very opposed to the Vietnam war and protested it alongside their like-minded counterparts. Preppy protesters worked hand-in-hand with the hippies to attempt to create peace and love amongst everyone. Disgruntled Vietnam veterans, despite still being against the war, hated it for alternate reasoning. They had experienced the horrors and trauma of the war firsthand and were extremely against it for they didn’t want anyone else to undergo the trials and tribulations they did.

     Many younger people rebelled against their parents and the government, which included protests against the Vietnam War. The Flower Power movement, a passive and peaceful resistance movement, was an example of this. On Oct. 21, 1967 more than 100,000 people gathered around the Pentagon to show their opposition towards the war. During this protest, 2,500 army troops were protecting the building. George Harris, an aspiring actor, stepped up and inserted the stem of a flower into the barrel of a guard’s gun. This influential movement led other people there to do the same, and eventually almost every gun was left with a flower.

     The music of the 60s was unlike that of any other decade. The introduction of rock ‘n roll started with Elvis, the proclaimed king of rock. Some popular artists of that time included Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles and Bob Dylan. These artists were popular with the younger generations, but were heavily frowned upon by the older ones for their strong language and bad influences. According to Squires, people often “expressed themselves through various styles of dress, music, the use of drugs, and, for some, communal living.”

     One event of collective expression was Woodstock, an extremely popular music festival where hundreds of people could gather for 3 days of peace, love and music. The first Woodstock was in August of 1969 in upstate New York. An estimated 500,000 people showed up to this event. Hurricane Camile was making its way into the Mississippi gulf coast which led to there being horrible storms up north, and one of these storms just so happened to fall on one of the 3 days of woodstock; people ran rampant, trying to find any sort of shelter from the storm. The planners of this event had already been extremely swamped with a venue change, a shortage of food and major sanitation issues that this was just another hindrance added to their ever growing list.

     Flower power, flared pants, long hair, vibrant colors and peace signs were all a part of the new and obscure fashion of the 1960s. Much like everything else they did, hippy fashion was also different and very against the norm. Some modern fashion worn today was derived from the fashion that was popular then. The ‘60s was a very influential time and changed many aspects of life and opened the eyes of people to new ideas and ways of thinking.

      The summer of 1967 was deemed “the summer of love.” Haight Ashbury was an extremely popular place for like minded people to gather. It was named “the birthplace of the hippie movement,” lots of peaceful protests and psychedelic experimentation started there and was then spread to the rest of the country to create the start of the counterculture.