Echoes of 1968
By Steve Dodge
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"Together we'll stand
Divided we'll fall
Come on now people
Let's get on the ball
And work together
Come on, come on
Let's work together
(Now, now people)
Because together we will stand
Every boy, girl, woman and man..."
— Lyrics by Wilbert Harrison as recorded by Canned Heat, 1970
In the late Sixties something happened. America and the rest of the world are still trying to figure out just exactly what.
One thing's for sure. The genie exploded out of the bottle and he's still on the loose. The pressure had been building for a long time: an unjust war against a people seeking freedom from foreign domination; assassinations of some of the best and brightest ever. Sixties America featured one consistent theme in all the rights, anti-war and freedom movements — it was one royally angry country. To paraphrase the disgruntled anchorman character from the movie "Network", America was mad as hell and it wasn't going to take it any more.
From out of the chaos some very good things emerged. The war ended. There was a lot of great music. Art and fashion exploded with new ideas and innovation, with somewhat mixed results. Bellbottoms anyone?
There are other “echoes” of those years, too. The idea that people can get together to make sweeping changes in how they are treated, how they are governed, what kind of work they can do and how they conduct their private lives. These weren't new notions, but they came together with amazing synergy in the late Sixties. And for a lot of people, the gains and the failures of those times still echo 40-some years later.
Steve Dodge is editor of Pacific Magazine.