The Hippie Movement

The anti-establish movement was the main contribution to the formation of the hippie movement of the 1960’s. The word “hippie” comes from the word “hip” meaning tuned in or aware of the culture. Most hippies came from white-middle class families and ranged from age 15 to 25 years old (Zablocki 1). People growing up in the 1950’s became a hippie because they didn’t feel like they fit in with their future duties of having an office job or being a house wife (Pendergast 1). Another name for hippies was “flower children” because they would give people flowers to communicate their gentleness and love (Zablocki 1).

Flower children believed that they lived at the dawning of a new age which was dedicated to love and peace (Firm 128). During the later years of the 1960’s, the hippie movement began; hippies rebelled against society, had their own way of living, and had an impact on the world. To follow their beliefs, hippies would rebel against authority and drop out from society. They believed that it was fashionable to quit school, smoke marijuana, enjoy free love, wear loud clothes, and grow long hair. Hippies also rejected authority and the status quo and believed that the way to change society was to drop out of the materialistic world (Chepesiuk 1).

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Young men were being drafted into the army and they felt suffocated by what that future might hold for them (Pendergast 1). All that the hippies wanted was the world to be based on love, humanity, and peace. They would do this by expressing themselves with their own opinions (Zablocki 1). To make money and survive, they would sell marijuana and LSD. LSD stands for lysergic acid diethylamide, which is a synthetic drug that creates delusions and visual hallucinations when taken in large doses. It is typically bought as a liquid and taken by the mouth. LSD is an illegal drug that has been used since the 1960’s (“LSD Fast Facts”).

Hippies would call themselves acid heads if they were one to use LSD (Chepesiuk 1). The drug was used by a variety of people. Even if people belonged to different social cliques, they would look past that and use the drug together just to get the effect. For example, a gay Jewish New York man and a Hell’s Angels gang member from Oakland looked past their differences and enjoyed a hallucinated night of music and LSD together (Firm 127). Richard Nixon described Timothy Leary by saying he was “the most dangerous man in America”. Timothy Leary experimented with LSD in 1960 when it was still a legal substance.

He taught psychology at a Harvard University. Later he formed the League of Spiritual Discovery, an LSD advocacy group. When the drug was banned he was arrested and put into prison for 10 years. He escaped from prison and was recaptured in 1973. Leary’s conviction was overturned in 1976 and he later died in 1996 (Firm 128). In 1961 Neal Cassidy and Ken Kasey conducted “experiments” similar to Leary’s and they took their “Magic Bus” across America. The “Magic Bus” was painted with bright colors and had soft velvet seats inside where many hippies would gather to share drugs.

Leary, Cassidy, and Kasey, who all used LSD and marijuana, became role models to the hippie community (Firm 127). To connect with each other, hippies would organize concerts to share drugs, their love for music, and their unusual lifestyles (Chepesiuk 1). They dressed in their own fashions. Many of them would wear headbands, floppy hats, flowing scarves, blue jeans, and a lot of tie-dye (Pendergast 1). For shoes they would either walk barefoot or wear what they called “Jesus sandals” (Zablocki 1). Both men and women would have long flowing hair and the men would have full grown beards (Pendergast 1).

Hippies would buy cheap clothes from thrift stores and embroider them with an image such as a flower which was the hippie “symbol” (Pendergast 1). Along with their unusual clothing style, they had different living standards than the average American. Many would live together in small groups, work together, and share their possessions. Some hippies would move from place to place, but never had one home. Others begged for money and lived on the streets (Zablocki 1). Hippies were referred to as “freaks” because of their unusual ways. To get along they connected around the music of the time. They would gather at various concerts and festivals.

The Woodstock Festival in 1969 is the most known hippie festival of that time (Pendergast 1). Music including folk and jazz were overtaken by music played by The Beatles and Rolling Stones (Firm 127). Hippies would listen to bands such as Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane, and singers like Joan Baez and Bob Dylan (Zablocki 1). Though many people became hippies or just supported the hippies, there were a number of Americans who did not approve of the hippie lifestyle and culture. When Ronald Regan was the governor of California, he once defined a hippie as someone “who looked like Tarzan, walked like Jane, and smelled like Cheetah. Along with stating this, he did not support the way hippies thought life should be lived in America (Chepesiuk 1).

The violence increased as the population of hippies got larger and violence was greatly increased after a black male was stabbed at a California “free music festival” (Firm 128). The number of drug arrests and rapes raised as more criminals moved in to take advantage of the young, free living people (Chepesiuk 1). Hippie icons began to die of drug overdoses and the outraged emotions of the hippies who looked up to them, eventually led to more violence. Along with the violence came more antiwar movements (Firm 128).

There were not only antiwar movements but also political, environmental, religious, and more. To organize together, hippies would use word of mouth, letters, and posters to get a large movement or rally together for a specific cause that they believed in (Chepesiuk 2). In the early 1970’s after all of the violence, drugs, and unusual lifestyles the hippie movement began to decline, they realized they could not “drop out” of society (Chepesiuk 1). Once they realized that they could not get away from society, a number of hippies joined the more organized movements to work for a specific social cause that they could fight against (Zablocki 1).

A lot of hippies turned to spirituality or religion after letting go of some hippie customs. They would look to the east for enlightenment and many of them went to India for “spiritual truth”. Some stayed in America and practiced meditation and continued to connect with nature (Chepesiuk 1). A number of the flower children gave up free love, drugs, and cut their hair. Even more went on to get married, start a family, and go back to school (Zablocki 2). Only a few hippies from the 1960’s stayed true to their philosophies and moved to the countryside to take on a more self-sufficient lifestyle.

In modern day, people use the terms “go green” or “eco-friendly”, these are from the hippie connecting with nature type of lifestyle (Firm 128). Even now Rainbow Family Peace Gatherings are held to bring the people who enjoy the hippie way of life together (Chepesiuk 2). Some clothes and accessories seen today resemble the hippie style, but are still modern and casual. Most of the hippie lifestyle has been lost in the past. While hippies rebelled against society, had their own way of living, and were disapproved by many people, the hippie movement made a big impact on today’s world.

Hippies demonstrated that your lifestyle can be how you want it to be and doesn’t have to be the way society thinks it should be. The rock n’ roll music has grown since the hippie era. Although drugs and violence have gotten worse since the 1960’s but that is only one negative effect of the hippie movement. Some clothing styles still live on from the hippie fashion. Famous hippie icons are still remembered today for their music, writings, and art work. The hippie movement has created many positive and negative effects on the culture of America today.

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