Lynn, the girlfriend of my grand-nephew, Alex, was taking a political science class and asked to interview me about my politics and what led to my political views. Here is my response to her:
For me, the 50’s were a time of black & white, good and evil. While the 60’s, on the other hand, were in vibrant colors and nuance. The 50’s were a time of conformity, simplicity, homogeny & innocence. The sixties were a time of complexity, cultural diversity, awareness and protest. The pill became available for birth control in 1960 which would lead to the sexual revolution, women’s rights, and ultimately gay rights.
When I was in 1st grade, a boy hit me and I went crying to my Mother. She told me that I should turn my cheek like Jesus did. This is the foundation of non-violent political views to come.
3rd grade, The Cuban Missile Crises. I wondered if we should have a bomb shelter. This crises brought awareness of a bigger world outside of our own lives.
5th grade- Moved to segregated Abilene Tx from more integrated Spokane, WA. This was my first experience with the segregation and the hateful South.
Folk music was popular in early 60’s & brought with it messages against war & for civil rights. (Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, Peter, Paul and Mary, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, etc).
Civil Rights movement broadcast on 3 national tv networks. 8/63, the March on Washington was broadcast.
In November of 1963, President, John F. Kennedy, was assassinated in Dallas, Texas.
1964, the Civil Rights Act would be signed. I was 13 but aware of the Civil Rights movement.
1964, The Beatles on Ed Sullivan. They had a huge impact on rock music, my generation and politics.
At beginning of school year in 1964, I was expelled from 8th grade for having a Beatle haircut & front page news. Year with tutor and much thinking about “rights.”
Right wing, John Birch Society relatives reading “None Dare Call it Treason.” Even at 13, I thought it was poorly written and thought they were paranoid. My Mother was a Republican but taught us liberal values.
The Beatles evolved from trite lyrics like “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” to more provocative lyrics like “Do You Want a Revolution?” Other rock groups had other anti-war and consciousness raising, political lyrics.
1967- The first Human Be-in of many “Be-In’s” and “Love-In’s” that merged popular music with anti-war, progressive politics, sexual freedom, drugs, spirituality, and consciousness raising. Timothy Leary attended and said, “Tune in, turn on and drop out.” Tune in to the cultural changes going on. Turn on with psychedelic drugs. Drop out of the corrupted, materialistic, corporate, straight world.
1967- 1969 Smothers Brothers Comedy hour. Full of political humor and satire.
1967- At 16, came to San Francisco for Summer of Love.
1968- The Viet Nam War had been raging. Because of the draft, we were forced into being political. I had to make a case before a draft board for a Conscientious Objector status.
April 1968- Martin Luther King was assassinated. June 1968- Bobby Kennedy was assassinated.
August 1968- The police riot at the Democratic National Convention.
1968- Boys in the Band opened off Broadway. “Gay consciousness,” & a Gay culture were developing.
1969- Woodstock- huge number of people coming together with no violence.