Social unrest during the 60s & 70s called attention to social inequities and for peace through mass demonstrations, non-violent and violent protests, and political and social action.
We may remember the protest movements then as thousands marching through city streets, clashes with police, angry riots, burning buildings, and broken windows. However, the call for social change affected the entire fabric of society with local reform movements and new community organizations.
Where did you take a stand? What was happening in your town, community, work place, church, social and personal life? Was there a moment when you pushed through a barrier and created social change in your world? How did this moment change you?
1968, Eartha Kitt, answers a question when invited to a White House luncheon by Lady Bird Johnson and speaks out against the war in Vietnam, “…There are so many things burning the people of this country, particularly mothers…”
Bettina Aptheker, is co-leadership of the Free Speech Movement in UC-Berkeley, takes part in the movement against the war in Vietnam and the trial of Angela Davis, helps to create the Women’s Studies Department at UC-Santa Cruz.
Helga Alice Herz, a Holocaust survivor, founding member of Women’s Strike for Peace (WSP) in Detroit, and member of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), sets herself afire on a Detroit street corner, following the example of Vietnamese Buddhist monks (1965).
In 1962, Dolores Huerta co-founds National Farm Workers Association with Cesar Chavez. On June 5, 1968, Huerta stood beside Robert Kennedy at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles as he delivers a victory statement to his political supporters shortly after winning the California Democratic presidential primary election. Only moments later, Huerta is a safe distance behind Kennedy as he and five other people are struck by gunfire.
Jane Fonda and husband Tom Hayden help organize the Indochina Peace Campaign, support the Black Panthers and United Farm Workers, and campaign for George McGovern, earning her the nickname “Hanoi Jane” that prompts death threats and the appearance of anti-Jane bumper stickers.
Cathy Wilkerson, a white middle-class girl from Connecticut becomes a member of the Weather Underground, one of the most notorious groups of the 1960s, and famously escapes the Greenwich Village townhouse explosion.
In 1967, Kathleen Neal Cleaver joins the Black Panther Party and becomes the communications secretary, spokesperson, press secretary, and the first female member of the Party’s decision-making body.
“… I decided to create a work of fiction to convey my recollections…how all over the world in the spring of 1968, there was a turmoil as abrasive as stone and change as unstoppable as time itself.” ~Elise Frances Miller, 2012.
Aptheker, Bettina. Intimate Politics: How I Grew Up Red, Fought for Free Speech, and Became a Feminist Rebel. Berkeley, CA: Seal Press, 2006.
Brown, Elaine. A Taste of Power: A Black Woman’s Story. New York: Anchor Books, 1992.
Davis, Angela. An Autobiography. New York: International Pub, 1989, 1974.
Deep in Our Hearts: Nine White Women in the Freedom Movement by Constance Curry, Joan C. Browning, Dorothy Burlage, Penny Patch, Theresa Del Pozzo, Sue Thrasher, Elaine Baker, Emmie Adams, Casey Hayden. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 2000.
Miller, Elise Frances. A Time to Cast Away Stones. Palo Alto: Sand Hill Review Press, 2012.
Perkins, Margo V. Autobiography as Activism: Three Black Women of the Sixties. Oxford, MS: University Press of Mississippi, 2000.
Shakur, Assata. Assata: An Autobiography. Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 2001, 1987.
Wilkerson, Cathy. Flying Close to the Sun: My Life and Times as a Weatherman. New York: Seven Stories Press, 2007.
Media and Links
Women on the Occupation of Alcatraz Island
Barry Callaghan Interviews Angela Davis in California Prison, 1970