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1967 was an exciting time of great social and technological change with unforgettable fashion, new musical styles, civil rights, a controversial war in Vietnam, peace marches, flower power, drug abuse, great TV and film, and sexual freedom. People who lived at this time can think back to a time with both good and bad memories, some of which are of partying and good fun, and some of bad choices. In any case these memories serve as a reminder that 1967 was a mixture of cause and effect events, both positive and negative, all resulting in many forms of freedom of expression.
The war in Vietnam was the main focus of many of the major things during the sixties. Thousands of men were being drated into service for the Vietnam War each year and many were scared. Because of this went to Canada where refuge was offered. Media reports from overseas were receieved back increasingly gruesome, and televisien showed the death and destruction created by the bombing of U.S. forces. By the end of 1967, 500,000 American soldiers were hopelessly killed in the Vietnam jungle. They used huge amounts of ammunition while gaining really nothing at all. Most soldiers were seen as horrible men burning villages, destroying rice crops, killing women and little children. The nation soon began to take a harder look at the United States intervention in Vietnam and began to wonder if the war was even worth fighting for.
The Civil Rights movement and the endless war in Vietnam were the two main causes for social protest in 1967. Since the end of the Civil War many organizations had been created to promote the goals of racial justice and equality in America. However progress was slow and it wasn’t until around 1967 that a hundred years of effort would begin to gain the attention that it needed in order to force a change for the better. peaceful methods and believed change could be affected by working around the established system. There were tons of marches, rallies, strikes, riots, and violent confrontations with the police. The violence of racism would claim the lives of young and old African Americans. Some Restaurants, hotels, nightclubs, public facilities, and school systems were still segregated. The African-American community, being the minority, depended on the support of the white population. Those caught up in the hippie movement racial justice and equality to the heart, and then put it into action.
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Who are these hippies and what do they all want? It all happened really fast. Suddenly young men were wearing long hair and growing beards. Young women were dressing like peasants and wearing psychedelic colors. Everyone just seemed dirty. They were dropping out of college, starting up rock bands, living in communes, and traveling to the far reaches of the planet. To many it was frightening and mystifying, almost surreal even. Hippies believed that the world was a beautiful place. That they were surrounded by love, and believed that love could conquer all. They were engaged in a period of the sexual revolution. This was a period in which morals were left up to the individual, and individual pleasure was what they wanted. The sexual revolution of 1967 was more about instant sexual gratification. Birth control pills, then a new thing, quickly became extremely popular among many young girls. It was a year of all kinds of experimentation.
One of the major social changes brought about by 1967 was the widespread use of illegal drugs, mostly hallucinogens, marijuana and LSD. Before this time, jazz musicians and people mostly on the streets used marijuana. The people trying to copy the jazz musicians began using marijuana, and drugs were starting to be used in poems, novels, essays, and in popular protest songs. LSD, which was unknown to American society in the early sixties, gained widespread recognition. By 1967, marijuana and LSD use was common across the country. Many books were written to justify the use of drugs. Other more harmful drugs followed like cocaine, heroin, amphetamines and barbiturates. The idea of using mind-expanding drugs to gain an understanding into the world became very popular. Famous musicians such as Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix died as a result of this.
By 1967 rock music was one of the most important styles of music that fueled the new hippie movement. Bob Dylan showed how meaningful songs could be with his strong imagery. Though he was one of the few artists who was not into the hippie style, his then revolutionary music inspired a whole bunch of bands that did. The first rock bands came from San Francisco. The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Big Brother and the Holding Company came out with rock music and suddenly people caught on everywhere. It spread to musical groups in New York such as The Fugs and the Velvet Underground. Even soul groups like Sly and the Family Stone and the Chambers Brothers started enjoying this sound. The Beatles had many popular songs that made everyone love them. “All you need is love” dominated the charts and their album, Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band sold millions of copies that year. Pink Floyd was another very popular artist. His powerful music captivated millions and was especially great to listen to while under the influence of drugs. “Music shaped the way people felt, and it felt pretty damn good (Leonard 126.)”
For some people protests, riots, and drug abuse was just not for them. To escape from the problems of society, a trip to the movies was always enjoyable. A favorite to many was “Bonnie and Clyde”. Warren Baety played a bank robber accomplice in this film. Another hit movie was “In the Heat of the Night.” The star of this move, Rod Steiger won best actor for his role as a private investigator who searches to prove his best friend’s innocence.
Aside from movies many people also enjoyed watching sports. In 1967 there were so many great athletes. In baseball that year St. Louis won the World Series over Boston in a four to three series. Orlando Cepeda was voted MVP for his outstanding performance. In football the Greenbay packers defeated the Oakland Raiders thirty-three to fourteen in the Super Bowl. Johnny Unitas was voted the Pro MVP of this game for scoring two touchdowns. In basketball the Philadelphia seventy-sixers won the NBA championship. Wilt Chamberlain led this game with a whopping twenty four rebounds which gave him the MVP spot.
1967 was a year of unbelievable changes in all aspects of American society. A series of political demonstrations gave people the freedom to experience their different viewpoints. These events that occurred over 30 years ago has made a major impact in our lives today. 1967 was a good year and it will never be forgotton.