Blog 11: New Identity

As the long 60s drew to close many groups, inspired by what they saw in the decade, began organizing for what was needed for them. Native Americans, Chicano-Americans, Puerto Ricans, and Asian-Americans were inspired by the black power movement and began organizing for their own identity. They, like the black power movement, did not want to assimilate into the white American culture they wanted their own identity in their own culture. In one of the articles on Chicano- Americans the author discusses how all of his early life he had tried to just fit into American culture and had forgotten his Chicano identity. When he began living and working in a community with other Chicanos he realized that Chicano is beautiful and that he should not forget his culture. The same goes for Asian Americans, they wanted people to see them as Asian-Americans with a cultural identity unique to them. They wanted equal representation and wanted their culture to be respected, they did not want to assimilate into the white American culture. Native Americans had had enough of their mistreatment. For more than a century they had been promised land and a space for their culture and they were continually pushed off their land and been the victims of broken promises. They decided enough was enough and they needed to move and take action. The group occupied Alcatraz Island off the coast of San Fransico this was ironic because it was a jail that had been abandoned, but the Native-Americans saw this as symbolic because now when people came to America through the west coast they would now see those who owned the land first. All of these movements were about creating a cultural identity that would be both American and Chicano or Asian or Puerto Rican. They didn’t want to be apart of the white American culture that did not respect and honor their culture. They wanted a group which would organize and further their culture. For instance, the Puerto Rican movement in New York wanted to do things for the community as a community even the most mundane of tasks like cleaning up trash. The goal was to be for the community as the community in whatever it needed. While the there were not many long-term changes that this group made on the foreign front, they had a lasting impact domestically and challenged the white American culture to not force their culture on others and respect other cultures.

Blog 9: Social Revolution Did Not happen Overnight

Often the 1960s are placed on a pedestal of change and social revolution, but that change was slower and more gradual than most people realize. It was not one moment specifically in history that sparked a revolution, but it was a grouping of events over time that made a change. In the case of the feminist movement, the second wave of feminism began with Kennedy commissioning a group of women to create writings on the status of women. Then a new group followed known as (NOW) National Organization of Women, in NOW mostly older women organized to empower women and make sure women were being fulfilled even in there lives as housewives or whatever it was that they were doing.  Later came the Women’s liberation movement that was mostly made up of NOW’s children who drew ideas from the Black Panther party and organized to liberate women at all costs. In this movement, they did not want the mundane unfulfilling life of the housewife they wanted equal rights in the workforce and equal pay for the work similar to that of a man. They challenged the system of men that oppressed them and wanted to keep them at home. They came from movements such as the anti-war movement in which they were seen as coffee runners and minute takers and not as equal members. They stood for antiwar movements but did it as a group of women who were against the war, that way they could not be oppressed by men. Often in these movements, the men who were oppressing them were leading large movements yet they did not seem women as equal partners. Through these movements, we can see how change was gradual. Over time women were able to make progress by the revolution did not happen at a particular moment, it was over generations of time. The 1960s also housed change in ideas of sexuality. Today, if someone from the 1950s or 1960s came and witnessed our blatancy of sexuality they would be shocked (Bailey, Sexual Revolutions). However, our balance took a long time achieve and still does not entirely challenge the traditional ideas. During this time college students, per usual, had a lot to say about sexual freedom. Female college students were especially oppressed. They had curfews, parietals, and regulations to try and keep women from having sex. If a woman was caught having premarital sex they were socially outcasted or expelled from school. While all of these things were in place people were still having sex. They were just doing it in nontraditional settings (cars, lounges, etc.) it just meant that privacy was not assured. Even today religious college settings like Notre Dame still have no coed dormitories and things like parietals and as my friend who attends Notre Dame has told me it doesn’t really stop sexual relations. Gradually over time, it has become more acceptable for men and women to live together before they are married. It has taken a long time though in the 1970s it became more socially acceptable, even my parents in the 1990s who decided to live together before they were married felt a lot of pressure. My grandmother was furious with them for making this decision and because of this pressured them into marriage soon after they moved in together. Today my parents encourage me and my siblings to live with people of the opposite gender either romantically or not. Right now one of my roommates is male and my mom encouraged this. She sees it as a  way to keep the apartment grounded. She also encourages us to live with our partners before we marry them so there are no surprises after the wedding, she says you don’t really know someone until you’ve lived with them. All of this has transpired over many generations in my family and shows that change did not happen overnight.

Blog 8: A New Wave of Anger

1968 was a year that left Americans in pain. Everything about the country was changing, people were rioting in the streets, students were organizing to change the democratic party, Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated, Lyndon Johnson had announced he would not run for president, and Robert Kennedy was assassinated. People were downright angry, they were angry that young men were still dying in Vietnam and they were angry that Martin Luther King had been killed at the hands of a racist.  The people felt that the American dream was lost.

Students organized for a change in the democratic party, they changed the way that candidates ran for president. Students from New Hampshire created a map in which people could go door to door asking Democrats and independents to vote for McCarthy. McCarthy, in my opinion, was a surprising choice. He is shy and quiet, and he really didn’t even seem like he wanted the presidency. I guess that is what the students of the New Democratic movement wanted. They didn’t want someone who would tell them what to do they were looking for someone who would trust them. The students wanted someone who would look to them to make decisions. McCarthy had an attitude that he was doing everyone a favor by running for president and the students should thank him for letting them use his name. The students were looking for a name to push their agenda, they wanted the war in Vietnam to end. They were tired of Johnson pushing further and further into the war and they wanted change. They wanted their friends who were there doing the fighting to come home. The students really believed that America could be great if it made some major changes. They believed in democracy and had faith that with McCarthy the troops would come home, and change could be made.

Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated on April 4th, 1968. That day changed the civil rights movement in a drastic way. Now that the champion of nonviolence had died violently people turned to violence. “The assassin’s bullet not only Killed Dr. King, it killed a period of history. It killed Hope, and it killed a dream.” (B&B, 381) The assassination of Dr. King by a white American meant that any hope of change through peaceful nonviolent actions was no longer possible. It was clear that the only way that black Americans could ever get the fair and equal treatment they deserve was through violent means. Black Americans had to fight violence with violence. In a way, many black Americans thought that the dream of peaceful liberation had been gone for a long time, but King’s assassination proved that.

In conclusion, 1968 meant a new wave of anger in the US. Young people were angry that Johnson’s war in Vietnam was still seeing American casualties. Black Americans were angry and full of grief from the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King. All of this anger led to change, students created a new democratic party and put faith into a leader who would listen to them. African Americans saw that nonviolence was not working and that in order to see real change they had to fight violence with violence. 1968 left the United States very divided.

Blog 7: Black Power

Since America’s foundation, African Americans have been badly mistreated and oppressed. From slavery to Jim Crow and onward African Americans have been regarded as second-class citizens.  Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream in which black citizens and white citizens could live together in peace. However, not everyone agreed with King’s ideas of peace. For leaders such as Malcolm X, the black population in America had suffered far too long to move to a peaceful world. Malcolm X even went as far as saying he didn’t even see himself as an American. (BB, 120) At first, I didn’t understand how he could say that but after some thought, I have come to realize that my own circumstances do not allow me to understand that feeling because I have never seen oppression of this nature personally. For Malcolm X and the people who back him, oppression is so apparent. How could anyone who lives in oppression feel that they are apart of the state that is oppressing them? Malcolm X wanted a voice for black Americans. The primary reason for his movement was to give African Americans representation. Malcolm X on the service seems to be a negative and angry, but he was able to transform the black freedom struggle from what it was to a new movement in which African Americans would have a voice at all cost.

Virginia Tech in 1965 Kayla Mizelle

Virginia Tech on March 5, 1965, was, like most places in the US, divided. Up until this point in the presentations, Virginia Tech seemed as though it was the land that time had forgotten, but it is evident through The Virginia Tech that the issue of racial inequality was an area that the university could not ignore. On the Friday before this paper was issued the Corps of Cadets put on their annual Minstrel show (pictured below). This year, however, the students would not stand by and accept this kind of racism on their campus so a group of students stood outside Burras hall and picketed the show. In the paper, we see a letter to the editor that discusses how this student cannot understand how a group of college-educated people could watch this show. He is offended by the use of the “N” word and feels the Corps misjudgment poorly represents the student body and compares it humorously to the “Drunks of Radford” The editor responses by defending the Corps and attacking the picketers. He first states that the picketers made an active attempt to “humiliate” the audience for attending. He blames the picketers for trying to insight racial controversy through their picketing and that they could have attempted to reach their goal of a show cancellation through the academic council for evaluation since it was on the schedule for a long time. The editor says that VPI through “understanding and restraint” the students have reached peace with cultural differences since 1952 when the first black student was enrolled. He claims that VPI is the center for diversity and that any practice besides restraint and understanding could lead to a boilover. It is fascinating that a school with very little racial equality can see themselves as equal. It is so interesting to see someone defend a minstrel show and then claim that Virginia Tech was a peaceful place of equality. Another response to this letter is from a student who doesn’t understand the issue with the minstrel show and blackface. He essentially feels that the jokes have truth to them, but are exaggerated stereotypes which makes it funny and okay. He for some reason feels that until recently Black Americans would attend and be okay with these shows, but now in order to attract attention, everyone has an issue with them. His thought is that it is just a joke. Both of these editors show the racism that existed on Virginia Tech’s campus. While their justifications for the Minstrel Show are different both sides try to play the “it’s not racist” card but, both fail to see the show for what it is.

I also found the advertisements particularly interesting in this newspaper, three of them stood out specifically. The first was an ad for employment at IBM. I think this is super interesting because the people who responded to that advertisement could have potentially helped to create the computer as we know it today and it’s so interesting to think those people could have come from Tech. I also found the Army ROTC ad very interesting because while Vietnam is not mentioned like at all directly in this paper the ROTC ad shows that people knew they were going to war. This ad plays off people’s emotions and fear of the war by saying that they are good enough to be an officer don’t settle for an enlisted or drafted position that is for the uneducated less fortunate. 

Lastly, I found the ad for jobs in Europe interesting because it reminds me of our modern day study abroad except people go to work. Either way, it is another symbol of privilege on Virginia Tech’s campus and shows that people had money so that they could afford to go and work in Europe.  

Blog Post 4: JFK to LBJ on civil rights

Image result for lbj swearing in

Lyndon Johnson is quoted saying after JFK’s assassination that he had received the presidency he never wanted. JFK had always had a passive stance on civil rights. It seems obvious that it was something he hoped for but he needed the support of the white southerners, therefore, he was caught in a political trap. JFK would address the general public and bring up the injustices that were committed against black Americans, unfortunately, due to his need for the white southern vote and his short presidency he would not accomplish really anything in the ways of civil rights.

Although the way LBJ had to take office is horrible his stance on civil rights was exactly what was needed. Most people remember LBJ as the president who did Vietnam, however, that view misses all that he did domestically for civil rights. From the beginning, LBJ’s stance was that equal rights were written into the constitution and legislators have taken an oath to honor that constitution, therefore, it is common sense that black Americans should have assured civil rights. He sold it to Congress as a matter of honoring the constitution, but today we know that LBJ really thought of this as an obvious need to treat all of America’s citizens with equality. Unlike Kennedy, LBJ was an enforcer and planned to enforce civil rights. He was not motivated politically to try and win the white southerners votes he had never had their support so instead, he worked for equality for all. He even used some leverage from JFK’s tragic death to push to Congress that civil rights for black American’s is what JFK would have wanted.

Blog Post 3: The cost of individualism

Today it is hard to imagine being arrested simply for playing music in a city park but unfortunately, this was a reality that many folk musicians and their listeners faced if they chose “organize” without permission. The sixties as I see it was a time where Beatniks faced oppression for choosing to be individuals in a public place. Jonny the foot wanted to challenge this and chose to express himself vocally in a public place and was arrested for his chosen form of expression. He left his not so perfect niche in Nebraska and come to a place where people could be individuals as weird and wonderful as they wanted. He’s chosen form of expression was feet art that showed the miles he put on them similar to the way a car shows its mileage. He, like many other Beatniks, was after individuality. This wasn’t uncommon for the people of his generation that grew up un the cookie cutter towns that preached materialism and sameness. Not everyone chose to express themselves like Johnny. One form of expression arose in the form of the Folk Revival where musicians like Bob Dylan proved their individuality lyrically speaking out against injustices through rhythm and lyrics. Some of these Folk revivalists were women like Joan Baez who chose to express her independence and liberation as a woman from men who wanted to tie her down. In the end, all of these people were after the same thing, freedom to express themselves where ever they chose. They were met by the “upstanding citizens” who arrested and brutalized them for simply protesting or playing music publically. This was the cost of being an individual, potential arrest, police brutality, and jail time. Today, in a time where singing and participating in demonstrations in a public park is not something people are being arrested for, it is easy to forget the social change that the Beatniks and Folk Revivalists brought about, however, without them we may not be so familiar with the ability to express ourselves.

Blog post 2: More than the politics

This week we read a lot about Anne Moody and how she was affected by all the tensions that were surrounding her youth. Anne Moody at points would become almost physically ill thinking all of the injustice that was happening around her and more so than that she would become ill thinking about how all of the adults around her did nothing to stop them. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that everything that we have learned about in history has an actual effect on people. For instance, Anne Moody was still in high school and was affected by the Brown vs. Board of Education supreme court decision.

Due to the nonspecific wording of the ruling, schools were in no rush to integrate so Anne Moody would not end up going to a white high school. However, in her town, the white people organized and built a really nice school so that maybe the black people would not want to integrate because it would be “equal”. I had heard that school districts would do things like this, but when you read about Anne Moody’s life these events really stand out as injustices. White people in the south were so set against their children going to integrated schools that they would spend loads of money to try and prevent it. Today we realize how absolutely absurd that it and how senseless it is to spend all of that money to protect their moronic racism.

I was also really struck by the section where Emma had her foot blown off by Wilbert, yet no one blamed Wilbert instead they blamed the white man. I think the way that Anne Moody explained the situation makes it clear that the injustices were much greater than inconveniences, men really could not get jobs that paid enough to provide to their families. The black freedom struggle was more than a political movement, but it was also a struggle for economic equality. In this section of Anne Moody’s account, I think she wants her audience to see that and while I don’t think anyone excuses Wilbert for his actions I think everyone can sympathize with him and see how this inequality has driven him to a point of almost insanity full of misdirected anger.

In conclusion, Anne Moody’s life put the historical events that we’ve learned about in school into perspective and shows that they had actual effects on real people not just effects on the NAACP and the political movement. Additionally, they affected the economic livelihood of black men and while these men were not slaves they often worked like one and were not compensated nearly enough to work and be treated the way they were.

 

About Me: Blog Post 1

Hello everyone, welcome to my blog! My name is Kayla Mizelle and I am a Sophomore history major from Richmond, Virginia. I am studying history with the intent of becoming a middle school history teacher.

The history that I most enjoy studying is, America in the 1960s. I first realized my interest in the subject in my high school’s history club where our instructor showed us the CNN 1960’s documentary series on Netflix. I hope in this class to learn new perspectives from the time outside the traditional history. Additionally, I am really interested in California, specifically San Francisco, during the 1960s psychedelic movement.

A little bit about me, I love being outside. A few hobbies of mine include fishing, kayaking, hiking, and hammocking.

Family is very important to me and my family is a little different and very large.  I have a mother and a father who love my siblings and I very much as well as a stepfather and stepmother. I have two younger biological siblings who are twins, Ashley and Vance or as I like to call them, my best friends. I also have three older stepbrothers, one stepsister in law, and pretty soon I will be a step-aunt! If that wasn’t hard enough to follow we also have quite a few pets who are more like siblings,  we have two dogs, two cats, and a gecko.

I’m looking forward to going deeper into the history of the sixties this semester!