It was the hippies that took the movement out of the coffee shops and on to the campuses around the country. Berkley became the center of the movement. There were protest and demonstrations. Angry at the injustices in this country such as racism, poverty and the lack of women's rights, sit ins were staged. Sometimes practically taking over campuses. Many were arrested. The movement started small and grew. I believe there were two major factors in the growth of the hippie movement. Music and Vietnam have to be considered in the equation. As the war escalated, more and more young people were going to Vietnam. Students died in confrontations with the national guard at Kent State and Jackson State. It was a war that was considered unjust within the movement. Peace became a common goal and the ranks of the hippies swelled. The music took roots from the folk music of musicians coming out of the depression, such as Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie. Singers like Joan Baez, Bob Dylan and Arlo Guthrie brought folk music into the sixties with protest themes against government oppression and war. They had taken the words of the beat generation to a new level. Music festivals like the Newport Folk Festival drew large crowd of like thinkers where they could not only enjoy the music but share the common goals. These festivals grew in size and number. Many areas banned the festivals because they were afraid of what might happen. All those crazy, dirty, dope smoking hippies. Who knows what they might do? It's true that drugs were a part of the movement. For some reason drugs have been part of music for generations, including the blues and jazz performers of the 1920s and 30s. This just was the first time it spread so far. Much of the drug use, dress and such was just a part of the protest. Some, of course, were in it for the drugs alone. These were the people, that naturally, were most linked with being a hippie. Even with the protest of the establishment, music festivals flourished and the movement grew. Then in August 1969 there was a festival that changed the world. Half a million hippies joined together to make history. Woodstock was probably the high point of the hippie movement. Woodstock proved the doom and despair people wrong. For three days, all these crazy hippie lived together in peace and harmony.
I'm not sure what led to the dwindling of the hippie movement. Maybe it was the gains made in civil rights and women's rights. Maybe it was the end of the war in Vietnam. Could be we just thought the fight was over. I know we made a difference for a while. Then it seems that during the Regan era there was a setback. We started losing the individual rights we gained. It turned from the we generation to the me generation. What's in it for me? Whole families wound up living on the streets, homeless. Racism has raised it's ugly head again. The Klan has begun to grow and skinhead groups are showing up even in rural communities. The Environmental Protection Agency is being stripped of it's authority. Since I first posted my site, I have been glad to find that the movement hasn't died. There are still a lot of old hippies out there and they're coming out again. There are also a growing number of new young hippies with the ideals and hopes we had. I'm most proud of them and I hope their ranks will grow. We need them if we are going to survive the next century.
Bucks Beat Page Links to the Beat Generations beginnings.
Beat Pages Writings from Ginsberg, Kerouac, Burroughs and others.
Woodstock , Sixties , On Being a Hippie , Native Americans , The Farm
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