The Sixties

The Sixties
Freedom has been discussed and debated for a while now and yet no one can completely agree that it exists. Since the Civil, War America has been conditioned to be divided politically. The conflict over the meaning of freedom continues to exist from the civil war, throughout the sixties and in the present. The Civil War was fought over the question of what freedom means in America. The issue was in the open for all to see: slavery. Human slavery was the shameless face of the idea of freedom. The cultural war in the sixties was once more about the question of what freedom is and what it means to Americans. No slaves. Instead, in the sixties and seventies four main issues dominated the struggle for racial equality: opposition to discriminatory immigration controls; the fight against racist attacks; the struggle for equality in the workplace; and, most explosively, the issue of police brutality. For more than two centuries, Americans demanded successive expansions of freedom; progressive freedom. Americans wanted freedom that grants expansions of voting rights, civil rights, education, public health, scientific knowledge and protections from fear.
host: Today, in our studio we have three famous personalities of the sixties. We will be asking about their experiences and how they saw America change in their lifetime. This will give us three different perspectives of struggle during the sixties, and how their definition of freedom differs from each other. First we have one of the most visible advocates of nonviolence and direct action as methods of social change, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
host: Dr. King, Welcome to the talk show.
Dr. king: Thanks for having me. It?s a pleasure.
host: Dr King, tell us how did you get the world to see the struggle of black America?
Dr. king: ?My goal was to draw on traditional American values and deep traditional Christian values in the cause of civil rights and to use the mass media. I knew that television was now putting daily events right into people?s living rooms every single day, and if I could shape the way the black movement was presented it would have a powerful effect on public opinion. I used television, in effect, to force white America to think, to face up to what it really wanted the country to be. I knew that Americans are not willing to stand by with all this injustice existing? Television really brought that issue right into people?s homes in a way it hadn?t been before.?
host: Also tell us what were the landmarks for the civil rights movement in the 1950s?
Dr. king:" Well, the great landmarks of the civil rights movement in the 1950s were, first, the Montgomery bus boycott of 1955 (it began in 1955 and went into the next year). It was the first mobilization of a mass movement with the black church at the center of it. This became the organizing base for mass protest, nonviolent protest in the South against segregation. The victory of the Montgomery bus boycott showed the possibility of this new tactic of massive nonviolent resistance even in the most violently segregated areas in the country. It also required a Supreme Court decision for the Montgomery bus boycott to win. Then, in 1957, it required another Supreme Court decision and federal troops being sent into Little Rock, Arkansas, by President Eisenhower to enforce decisions to integrate Central High School This was another great landmark which suggested that outside power was also going to be absolutely necessary if the racial system of the South was going to be diminished.
host: Our next guest is longtime conservative leader and publisher of Young Americans for Freedom (yaf), William F. Buckley. Mr. Buckley, the 1950s is seen as a sort of moderately liberal decade, and the revival of conservatism became more visible in the 1960s and later on in the 1970s, 1980s, and up to today. Please describe the origins of ?new conservatism? and how it flourished in the next few decades?
Mr. Buckley: In the late 1950s and early 1960s conservatives were widely dismissed as ?kooks? and ?crackpots? with no hope of winning political power. With the founding of Young Americans for Freedom (yaf) in 1960, conservative students come forward as a force in the politics. yaf aimed at talking control of the Republican Party who was suffering from moral decay. yaf believed that a true government should regulate personal behavior and restore a Christian morality. There were a certain number of writers who were very critical of large, powerful federal government intervening in the economy. They felt that the United States was not pursuing the Cold War vigorously enough, not fighting communism vigorously enough. There were also the moral conservatives who felt that the United States was too materialistic and had lost its religious character. In the 1950s I founded a magazine called the National Review which provided a forum for conservative ideas. Many writers came together to write in the magazine. But it was really in the sixties, as the society went through tremendous changes and tremendous turmoil that a larger number of people began to develop for conservative ideas.
host: Tell us about the population that was driven to conservatism?
Mr. Buckley: Well, it was mostly businessmen who saw an opportunity to roll back the gains of labor unions and the economic regulations; many people who were frightened by turmoil in the streets; whites who were against the expansion of the civil rights movement. They felt their God-given free will was being restricted.
host: Last but not least, we have Betty Freidan, who was an American feminist, activist and writer, best known for starting the ?Second Wave? of feminism through the writing of her book The Feminine Mystique.
Host: Ms. Freidan, tell us about the second wave of feminism and what was the origin of that movement?
Ms. Freidan: The civil rights movement of the sixties, just like abolitionism, inspired numerous groups to take up the cause of their own liberty. The women?s movement had been pretty much abandoned after the achievement of the right to vote. Now a new women?s movement arose, but its issue was no longer political rights, but personal rights: education, opportunity, economic equality, freedom in personal life, access to birth control, abortion, control over your own person, the right to live a lifestyle that you chose. Feminism was reborn in the 1960s as women sought to liberate themselves from the traditional roles of wife ad mother. Like I said in my book The Feminine Mystique that the problem that has no name ? which is simply the fact that American women are kept from growing to their full human capacities ? is taking a far greater toll on the physical and mental health of our country than any known disease. Each suburban wife struggled with it alone. As she made the beds, shopped for groceries, matched slipcover material, ate peanut butter sandwiches with her children, chauffeured Cub Scouts and Brownies, lay beside her husband at night ? she was afraid to ask even of herself the silent question ? ?Is this all?? I pushed for equal pay, sex-neutral help-wanted ads, maternity leave, child-care centers for working parents, legal abortion and many other topics considered radical in the 1960s and 1970s. I was impatient with the federal government because it did not appear to be taking equal pay for women seriously, so in 1966 I helped found the National Organization for Women (now), the largest and most effective organization in the women?s movement.
host: Thanks you all for coming here and sharing your experiences and knowledge with us.
All Three: You are welcome. It was a pleasure.
The sixties were a time of great change for America. The country was literally redefined as people from all walks of life fought to uphold their standards on what they believed a true democracy is made of; equal rights for all races, freedom of speech. The definition of the word ?freedom? will keep shifting as conflict over the meaning of freedom continues.

The Sixties 8.5 of 10 on the basis of 745 Review.