Over at FB, this picture is floating around:
Fifty years ago it was November 1962. It was the Cuban Missile Crisis (which, granted, wasn’t cool outside of X-Men plots), but it was also the age of Sputnik. James Meredith just enrolled at the University of Mississippi last month, and in the year to come we’ll see MLK’s sojourn in a Birmingham Jail and the march on Washington. 1961 also saw the birth of the Peace Corps, and of course the Equal Rights Amendment is just a few years down the line. This was the era of To Kill a Mockingbird, Where the Wild Things Are, and The Feminine Mystique. Nehru jackets were the hot new thing, but I guess no age was without its downsides.
In all seriousness, I do know that not everything was sunshine and roses. There were several murders of African-Americans in this time period associated with the Civil Rights Movements, and of course JFK was shot in 1963, and Bobby + MLK in 1968. Things weren’t easy for women either, to say nothing of homosexual people. But it was a time of change, and a time of people working together. There was this expectation that if you weren’t the people in power you could actually rely on the government to give your kids a decent school, prosecute your murderers, and so on. Not universally – it was also the age of Nixon – but when I look at this era I do see a basic hopefulness.
And Sam Cooke said it so well in this song, performed here by Otis Redding:
I look around me and I see people around me suffering indignities no one should ever have to live with. I’m thinking particularly of the poor who are blamed for their poverty, the hispanic Americans who are assumed to be illegal just because they have a certain skin tone, African-American communities ravaged by the drug war, sexually exploited women (whether through a one-time rape or a longer-term history of sex trafficking) who get no mercy but lots of judgment. No, the sixties weren’t a great time for a lot of people. But they were a time of determined, communal action. We could do worse come Tuesday.
Btw, if you’re Christian, it’s worth remembering:
Great message, and a great program. You can find your local service here; I’m going to Broadway UCC.