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FACTS ABOUT THE DECADE OF THE ‘60’s

·         Population 177,830,000

·         Unemployment 3,852,000

·         National Debt 286.3 Billion

·         Average Salary $4,743

·         Teacher's Salary $5,174

·         Minimum Wage $1.00

·         Life Expectancy:  Males 66.6 years, Females 73.1 years

·         Auto deaths 21.3 per 100,000

·         An estimated 850,000 "war baby" freshmen enter college; emergency living quarters are set up in dorm lounges, hotels and trailer camps.

Class of ‘70 Comes of Age in the Turbulent 60’s

The sixties were the age of youth, as 70 million children from the post-war baby boom became teenagers and young adults.  The movement away from the conservative fifties continued and eventually resulted in revolutionary ways of thinking and real change in the cultural fabric of American life.  No longer content to be images of the generation ahead of them, young people wanted change. The changes affected education, values, lifestyles, laws, and entertainment.  Many of the revolutionary ideas that began in the sixties are continuing to evolve today. 

The Civil Rights movement made great changes in society in the 1960's.  The movement began peacefully, with Martin Luther King and Stokely Carmichael leading sit-ins and peaceful protests, joined by whites and Jews.  Malcolm X preached black superiority, and by the end of the decade the Black Panthers were advocating black separatism, violence and anti-semitism.  The Presidential Commission of the Status of Women (1963) presented disturbing facts about women's place in our society.  Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinham (National Organization of Women) questioning unequal treatment of women, giving birth to Women's Lib, and discovered the "glass ceiling." 

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was amended to include gender.  The birth control pill became widely available and abortion for cause was legalized in Colorado in 1967. 

The Supreme Court decided in 1962 that prayer in the public schools was unconstitutional.  As the 1960's progressed, many young people turned from mainstream Protestant religions to mystic eastern religions such as Transcendental Meditation or Zen Buddhism.  Respect for authority declined among the youth, and crime rates soared to nine times the rate of the 1950's. Marijuana use soared. The hippie movement endorsed drugs, rock music, mystic religions and sexual freedom. They opposed violence. Many hippies moved to Haight Ashbury or New York City lived in communes.

Youth Drove Fads of the ‘60’s 

Youth predominated the culture of the 1960's. The post World War II Baby Boom had created 70 million teenagers for the sixties, and these youth swayed the fashion, the fads and the politics of the decade. California surfers took to skateboards as a way to stay fit out of season, and by 1963, the fad had spread across the country.

Barbie dolls, introduced by Mattel in 1959, became a huge success in the sixties, so much so that rival toy manufacturer Hasbro came up with G. I. Joe, 12 inches tall and the first action figure for boys.  Another doll, the troll doll, was a good luck symbol for all ages.

Music of the ‘60’s: From Elvis to The Grateful Dead

In 1960, Elvis returned to the music scene from the US Army, joining the other white male vocalists at the top of the charts; Bobby Darin, Neil Sedaka, Jerry Lee Lewis, Paul Anka, Del Shannon and Frankie Avalon.  America, however, was ready for a change.  The Tamla Motown Record Company came on the scene, specializing in black rhythm and blues, aided in the emergence of female groups such as Gladys Knight and the Pips, Martha and the Vandellas, the Supremes, and Aretha Franklin, as well as some black men, including Smoky Robinson, James Brown, Jimi Hendrix, and the Temptations. Bob Dylan helped bring about a folk music revival, along with Joan Baez and Peter, Paul & Mary.  The Beach Boys began recording music that appealed to high schoolers.  The Beatles, from England, burst into popularity with innovative rock music that appealed to all ages.

There was a major change in popular music in the mid-1960's, caused in part by the drug scene.  Jefferson Airplane and The Grateful Dead grew out of the counterculture in 1967.  The musical phenomena of the decade was Woodstock, a three day music festival that drew 400,000 hippies and featured peace, love, and happiness...and LSD.  

Top Songs in 1969-70

American Bandstand Watched by Teens from Coast to Coast

Radio continued to be the primary means of listening to music.  The major development was a change from primarily AM to FM.  Radio was supplemented by  American Bandstand , watched by teens from coast to coast.  They not only learned the latest music, but how to dance to it. When Chubby Checker introduced the twist on the show in 1961, a new craze was born, and dancing became an individual activity.  The Mashed Potato, the Swim, the Watusi, the Monkey and the Jerk followed the Twist, mimicking their namesakes.  Each new dance often lasted for just a song or two before the next one came along. Eventually the names and stylized mimicry ceased and the dancers just moved however they wanted.  For those who preferred watching the dancers, Go-go girls, on stages or in bird cages, danced above the crowd.

Movies & Theatre  

Academy Awards - 1970

Tony Awards - 1970