Portal:1960s
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Portal:1960s

The 1960s Portal


"The Sixties", as they are known in both scholarship and popular culture, is a term used by historians, journalists, and other objective academics; in some cases nostalgically to describe the counterculture and revolution in social norms about clothing, music, drugs, dress, formalities and schooling. Conservatives denounce the decade as one of irresponsible excess and flamboyance, and decay of social order. The decade was also labeled the Swinging Sixties because of the fall or relaxation of social taboos especially relating to racism and sexism that occurred during this time.

The 1960s became synonymous with the new, radical, and subversive events and trends of the period. In Africa the 1960s was a period of radical political change as 32 countries gained independence from their European colonial rulers.

Some commentators have seen in this era a classical Jungian nightmare cycle, where a rigid culture, unable to contain the demands for greater individual freedom, broke free of the social constraints of the previous age through extreme deviation from the norm. Christopher Booker charts the rise, success, fall/nightmare and explosion in the London scene of the 1960s. However, this alone does not explain the mass nature of the phenomenon.

Several nations such as the U.S., France, Germany and Britain turned to the left in the early and mid 1960s. In the United States, John F. Kennedy, a Keynesian and staunch anti-communist, pushed for social reforms. His assassination in 1963 was a stunning shock. Liberal reforms were finally passed under Lyndon B. Johnson including civil rights for African Americans and healthcare for the elderly and the poor. Despite his large-scale Great Society programs, Johnson was increasingly reviled by the New Left at home and abroad. The heavy-handed American role in the Vietnam War outraged student protestors across the globe, as they found peasant rebellion typified by Ho Chi Minh and Che Guevara more appealing. Italy formed its first left-of-center government in March 1962 with a coalition of Christian Democrats, Social Democrats, and moderate Republicans. Socialists joined the ruling block in December 1963. In Britain, the Labour Party gained power in 1964. In Brazil, João Goulart became president after Jânio Quadros resigned.

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On June 5, 1968, presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy was mortally wounded shortly after midnight at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. Earlier that evening, the 42-year-old junior senator from New York was declared the winner in the South Dakota and California 1968 Democratic Party presidential primaries during the 1968 United States presidential election. He was pronounced dead at 1:44 a.m. PDT on June 6, about 26 hours after he had been shot.

Following dual victories in the California and South Dakota primary elections for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States, Senator Kennedy spoke to journalists and campaign workers at a live televised celebration from the stage of his headquarters at the Ambassador Hotel. Shortly after leaving the podium and exiting through a kitchen hallway, he was mortally wounded by multiple shots fired from a handgun. Kennedy died in the Good Samaritan Hospital 26 hours later. The shooter was 24-year-old Sirhan Sirhan. In 1969, Sirhan was convicted of murdering the senator and sentenced to death. His sentence was commuted to life in prison in 1972. A freelance newspaper reporter recorded the shooting on audio tape, and the aftermath was captured on film. (Full article...)

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Goldfinger is a 1964 spy film and the third instalment in the James Bond series produced by Eon Productions, starring Sean Connery as the fictional MI6 agent James Bond. It is based on the 1959 novel of the same name by Ian Fleming. The film also stars Honor Blackman as Bond girl Pussy Galore and Gert Fröbe as the title character Auric Goldfinger, along with Shirley Eaton as the iconic Bond girl Jill Masterson. Goldfinger was produced by Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman and was the first of four Bond films directed by Guy Hamilton.

The film's plot has Bond investigating gold smuggling by gold magnate Auric Goldfinger and eventually uncovering Goldfinger's plans to contaminate the United States Bullion Depository at Fort Knox. Goldfinger was the first Bond blockbuster, with a budget equal to that of the two preceding films combined. Principal photography took place from

January to July 1964 in the United Kingdom, Switzerland and the United States. (Full article...)

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March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom
Credit: Warren K. Leffler
Crowds surrounding the Reflecting Pool, during the August 28 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. An estimated 200,000 to 500,000 people participated in the march, which featured Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous "I Have a Dream" speech. It was a major factor leading to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The march was also condemned by the Nation of Islam and Malcolm X, who termed it the "farce on Washington".

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The four members of The Beatles

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A colour photograph of Starr doing a peace sign wearing sunglasses and a black T-shirt.
Starr in 2019

Sir Richard Starkey (born 7 July 1940), better known by his stage name Ringo Starr, is an English musician, singer, songwriter and actor who achieved international fame as the drummer for the Beatles. He occasionally sang lead vocals with the group, usually for one song on each album, including "Yellow Submarine", "With a Little Help from My Friends" and their cover of "Act Naturally". He also wrote and sang the Beatles' songs "Don't Pass Me By" and "Octopus's Garden", and is credited as a co-writer of others.

Starr was afflicted by life-threatening illnesses during childhood, with periods of prolonged hospitalisation. He briefly held a position with British Rail before securing an apprenticeship as a machinist at a Liverpool equipment manufacturer. Soon afterwards, he became interested in the UK skiffle craze and developed a fervent admiration for the genre. In 1957, he co-founded his first band, the Eddie Clayton Skiffle Group, which earned several prestigious local bookings before the fad succumbed to American rock and roll around early 1958. When the Beatles formed in 1960, Starr was a member of another Liverpool group, Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. After achieving moderate success in the UK and Hamburg, he quit the Hurricanes when he was asked to join the Beatles in August 1962, replacing Pete Best. (Full article...)

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Brezhnev in 1972

Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev (19 December 1906- 10 November 1982) was a Soviet politician who led the Soviet Union as General Secretary of the governing Communist Party (1964-1982) and as Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet (1960-1964, 1977-1982). His 18-year term as general secretary was second only to Joseph Stalin's in duration. While Brezhnev's rule was characterised by political stability and significant foreign policy successes, it was also marked by corruption, inefficiency, economic stagnation, and rapidly growing technological gaps with the West.

Leonid Brezhnev was born to a Russian working-class family in Kamenskoye (now Kamianske, Ukraine) within the Yekaterinoslav Governorate of the Russian Empire. After the results of the October Revolution were finalized with the creation of the Soviet Union, Brezhnev joined the Communist party's youth league in 1923 before becoming an official party member in 1929. When Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941, he joined the Red Army as a commissar and rose rapidly through the ranks to become a major general during World War II. Following the war's end, Brezhnev was promoted to the party's Central Committee in 1952 and rose to become a full member of the Politburo by 1957. In 1964, he amassed enough power to replace Nikita Khrushchev as First Secretary of the CPSU, the most powerful position in the country. (Full article...)

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The Population Bomb is a best-selling book written by Stanford University Professor Paul R. Ehrlich and his wife, Anne Ehrlich (who was uncredited), in 1968. It predicted worldwide famine in the 1970s and 1980s due to overpopulation, as well as other major societal upheavals, and advocated immediate action to limit population growth. Fears of a "population explosion" existed in the 1950s and 1960s, but the book and its author brought the idea to an even wider audience.

The book has been criticized since its publication for its alarmist tone, and in recent decades for its inaccurate predictions. The Ehrlichs stand by the book despite its flaws stating in 2009 that "perhaps the most serious flaw in The Bomb was that it was much too optimistic about the future" and believe that it achieved their goals because "it alerted people to the importance of environmental issues and brought human numbers into the debate on the human future." (Full article...)

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