The 1960’s












Luke Laubaugh
3-11-99
research paper
rough draft

The 1960’s was a decade that forever changed the culture and society of America. The 1960’s were widely known as the decade of peace

and love, not because the world had become a utopia but, in my opinion,

because of the heavy use of the popular hallucinogenic drugs by the

American youth. In reality minorities were struggling to gain freedom

from segregation and thousands of American soldiers and Vietnamese

civilians were being killed in the highly disputed war in Vietnam.

On February 20, 1960 four black college freshmen from the Negro

Agricultural and Technical College in Greensboro, North Carolina quietly

walked into a restaurant and sat down at the lunch counter. They were

protesting the Jim Crow custom that blacks could be served while

standing up but not while they were sitting at the lunch counter. The

students quietly sat there politely asking for service until closing time.

The next morning they showed up again accompanied by twenty five fellow

students. By the next week their sit down had been repeated in fourteen

cities in five deep south states. In the weeks to follow many new

protests arose. After a black woman was beaten with a baseball bat in

Montgomery, Alabama, 1,000 blacks silently marched into the first capital

of the Confederate states to sing and pray. Six hundred students from two

colleges walked through the streets of Orangeburg, South Carolina with

placards that exhibited phrases like “We Want Liberty” and “Segregation

is Dead.” By late June some kind of public place in over one hundred and

fifty different cities across America had been desegregated.

John F. Kennedy was never able to gain enough support to pass a civil

rights bill during his short time in office, but Lyndon Johnson drawing on

the Kennedy legacy and the support of the nation succeeded in passing the

bill. The bill passed 71 to 19, four more votes than required.

By early 1965 a new black leader had arose, whose name was

Malcolm X. His gospel was hatred and his motto was; “If ballots won’t

work, bullets will.” Malcolm X was a former pimp, cocaine addict, and

thief. He started a militant, all black group called the Black Panthers. On

a bright Sunday in a ballroom in Manhattan in full view of 400 blacks

Malcolm was murdered. Three men casually walked down the aisle; and

from eight feet opened fire with sawed-off double barreled shotguns.

Malcolm was killed by a pair of point blank range shots to the chest.

On March 12, 1965, U.S. Highway 80 was blocked by sixty state

troopers who stood in a wall three deep 400 yards past the Edmund Pettus

Bridge, which crosses the Alabama river. When black marchers came

within 100 yards the troopers were ordered to put on their gas masks. At

twenty five yards the marchers stopped. Seconds later the command

“troopers forward” was barked. The troopers moved in a solid wall

pushing back the front marchers. At 75 yards the troopers were joined by

posse men and deputies with tear gas canisters, in seconds the road was

swirling with clouds of smoke. The mounted men brought out bull whips

and began beating the marchers. Never in history had the American public

responded with such fury. Over 15,000 thousand people marched in five

different cities across the country.

On Sunday, March 21, 1965 a crowd of 3,400 marchers lead by two

Nobel Peace Prize winners, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Ralph Bunche,

departed from Selma on their four day march to Montgomery. They were

accompanied by 2,900 military police, U.S. Marshals, and FBI agents. The

goal of the march was to serve the governor with a petition protesting

voter discrimination. When the crowd reached the capital the governor

reneged and blandly told them “the capitol is closed today.”

By August of 1965 riots began to erupt in Los Angeles. At the end

of one week there were 27 dead, almost 600 injured, 1,700 arrested, and

over $100 million dollars worth of property damage. The riots were

finally stopped when 5,000 national guardsmen were called in from around

the country. No one actually knows what started the riots, but some


blame it on the heat wave that was hitting Los Angels and others blame it

on the irritation of