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The Hippie Movement

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    Through out history the world has seen some generations that have

    made an impact more than all of its predecessors. The decade from 1960

    to 1970 was definitely one of those eras. The people didn’t follow the

    teachings of its elders, but rejected them for an alternative culture

    which was their very own(Harris 14). Made up of the younger population

    of the time this new culture was such a radical society that they were

    given their own name which is still used today. They came to be called

    the Hippies. The Hippie movement started in San Francisco, California

    and spread across the United States, through Canada, and into parts of

    Europe (World Book). But it had its greatest influence in America.

    During the 1960’s a radical group called the Hippies shocked America

    with their alternative lifestyle and radical beliefs.

    Hippies came from many different places and had many different

    backgrounds. All Hippies were young, from the ages of 15 to 25

    (Worldbook). They left their families and did it for many different

    reasons. Some rejected their parents’ ideas, some just wanted to get

    away, and others simply were outcasts, who could only fit in with the

    Hippie population. “Under 25 became a magical age, and young people all

    over the world were united by this bond” (Harris 15). This bond was of

    Non-conformity and it was the “Creed of the Young” (Harris 15). Most

    Hippies came from wealthy middle class families. Some people said that

    they were spoiled and wasting their lives away. But to Hippies

    themselves this was a way of life and no one was going to get in the

    Hippies flocked to a certain area of San Francisco on the corner

    of Haight Street and Ashbury Street, where the world got their first

    view of this unique group. This place came to be known as the Haight

    Ashbury District. There were tours of the district and it was said that

    the tour “was the only foreign tour within the continental limits of

    the United States” (Stern 147). The Hippies were so different that the

    conservative middle class could not relate to them and saw them as

    aliens. The Haight Ashbury district lies in the very center of San

    Francisco. In the years of 1965 and 1966 the Hippies took over the

    Haight Ashbury district(Cavan 49). There they lived and spread their

    psychedelic theme through out the whole area. In the Haight Ashbury

    district there were two parks that that all Hippies knew well. The most

    famous of the two was the Golden Gate Park(Cavan 43). The single most

    important event that put the Hippies on the map was held at the Golden

    Gate Park. It was called the Trips Festival. The Trips Festival was a

    week long festival designed to celebrate the LSD experience(Stern 148).

    Besides this festival dozens of other events took place at Golden Gate

    Park, some of which were free concerts by The Grateful Dead and

    Jefferson Airplane and Anti-War rallies held by Hippie political

    leaders. The other park is called the Buena Vista park and is known for

    housing hippies at night and for socializing during the day.

    As the 1960’s progressed, the youth in America united. “In 1969

    400,000 young people materialized for three dizzying days to listen to

    rock and blues music, to wear funny clothing or no clothes at all, to

    talk, sing, dance, clap hands, to drink beer or smoke pot and make

    love-but mostly to marvel again and again that they were all there

    together” (This Fabulous Century 64). This festival was held in a small

    town in up-state New York and came to be called Woodstock, after the

    town it was held in. Also in Greenwich Village, New York Hippies had a

    place. The Village on every Sunday was known to have hordes of singers

    with banjos and drums celebrating their youth together(Stern 103).

    One of the basic foundations of the Hippie movement was the

    flagrant use of illegal drugs. There were many drugs that the Hippies

    used but none was more used then marijuana. From 1960 to 1970 the

    number of Americans who had tried marijuana had increased from a few

    hundred thousand to 8,000,000. The majority of these new users were

    from 12 years old to college seniors(This Fabulous Century 84). To some

    Hippies, drugs and music were the most important aspects of their

    lives. Another drug that was prevalent in the Hippie population was

    LSD. Some Hippies thought that “LSD puts you in touch with your

    surroundings” (Cavan 114). But that was not what always the case. On

    occasion a hippie would take bad LSD and would experience a “bad trip”

    or would “freak out” (Cavan 115). When someone took bad LSD, freak out

    is exactly what they would do and sometimes they never came back. Bad

    LSD was so common that even at Woodstock people were having bad trips

    and freaking out. Even with this bad LSD everywhere people still used

    it, they went as far as to make a religion out of it. A man by the name

    of Dr. Timothy Leary was a Harvard professor who had ideas about LSD.

    He said “LSD is western yoga. The aim of all Eastern religion, like the

    aim of LSD, is basically to get high; that is to expand your

    consciousness and find ecstasy and revelation within” (This Fabulous

    Century 84). Another preacher of the use of LSD was an author by the

    name of Ken Keasey. He traveled around the United States in a

    psychedelic bus giving LSD to anyone and everyone who would take it.

    Hippies were notorious for there out of the ordinary music. Many

    Hippies were actually musicians themselves. Hippies used music as a way

    to get their thoughts and ideas out. One of the most influential

    musicians of the time was Bob Dylan. The lyrics of the song “Like

    Rolling Stone” express the thoughts of many Hippies. They say:

    These lyrics expressed Dylan’s personal thoughts to what was happening

    to him. He did feel “like a rolling stone” and so did his peers. His

    simple but meaningful lyrics are what made him so popular and

    successful. Many Hippies considered Dylan as a spokesman for their

    beliefs. Drugs were also themes in many bands songs. Jimmy Hendrix’s

    “Purple Haze” is about marijuana. “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” is a

    Beatles song about LSD. The Grateful Dead also took part in the fad

    with their song “Casey Jones,” with lyrics such as “High on Cocaine”

    Besides their music and drugs Hippies did some out of the

    ordinary things that were as shocking as their day-glo clothing. It was

    common for hippies in the Haight Ashbury District to put a nickel in a

    parking meter, then set up blankets and lie down in the space for a

    half hour(Stern 161). This was unusual behavior so it is not strange

    that the public did not take them seriously. “People thought Hippies

    were the next funniest thing to the Three Stooges”(Stern 161).

    Television shows like the successful Laugh In made fun of this counter

    culture. Movies made fun of them as well. One called the Presidents

    Analyst was extremely successful. The movie was dedicated “to the life,

    liberty, and pursuit of happenings,” and was based on the Hippies wacky

    antics. People all over the America were outraged at how strange these

    people were and at the same time were in tears at how funny they were.

    Even though from afar the Hippies were entertaining, in reality

    they were devastating the American family and were tearing the country

    in two. While the adults of the time were conservative, hard working,

    and caring mainly about money, the Hippies didn’t care about any of

    that. They were party animals. Many didn’t work unless it was

    completely necessary, they never went to church nor did they care for

    saving their virginity until after they were married. They were

    anything but conservative and their families rejected them for it.

    Hippies easy going attitudes and fun and games lifestyles were

    put away when the topic of politics came up. Indubitably the instigator

    for their existence, politics played a huge role in their lives. Having

    strongest feelings for the Vietnam War and for the Civil Rights

    Movement, the Hippies made their beliefs known to the world. They did

    this in many ways including musical shows, pacifist folk songs, and

    through peaceful sit-ins(This Fabulous Century 206). But none of their

    actions were more seen and heard of then their protests and rallies.

    The Hippies were aware that the war was being lost and that thousands

    of American soldiers were dying. They took it upon themselves the make

    their beliefs heard. They put together a protest larger then the ever

    before. Once organized not just Hippies came, but students,

    intellectuals, radicals, and citizens of all classes took part in it

    (Harris 36). This protest was held in Washington DC in the heart of the

    United States. 250,000 protesters gathered for one common goal. They

    wanted their troops to come back home and for United States involvement

    in the war to be ended. Through the years of the Vietnam War hundreds a

    anti-war rallies were held. By the decades end protests seemed to have

    done some good. Sixty five percent of all Americans had similar views

    as the hippies(This Fabulous Century 206). They wanted their troops

    back and that’s what they got in the 1969 when the President gave the

    Hippies had other feelings about racism and persecution. They

    took part in the civil rights movement, just as they did in the for the

    Vietnam troops. When President Kennedy tried to pass his Civil Rights

    policies and they never went through, the Hippies were more aggravated

    (Harris 8) Eventually some Hippies tried to make their colonies where

    there was no racism and persecution. There were Hippie communes all

    over the United States. Some communes believed that they were “fighting

    against the white man’s perverted society of pollution ,war, and greed

    (Stern 166). These communes didn’t get very popular and failed after a

    few years. Hippies still fought for racial equality. Finally when the

    1960’s were over new laws were put into action helping racial equality

    which would not have happened without the Hippies.

    During the 1960’s a radical group called the hippies shocked

    America with their alternative lifestyle and radical beliefs. They were

    young people who enjoyed life to its fullest. They used illegal drugs

    and listened to rock and roll music. With their alternative beliefs and

    practices they stunned America’s conservative middle class. Concerned

    chiefly protesting the Vietnam War and with civil rights they made a

    huge impact on the America and the world. Even today the effects of the

    Hippie movement is still felt. They made huge advantages and set

    examples for the youth of today and years to come.

    Cavan, Sherry. Hippies Of The Haight. St.Louis: New Critics Press, Inc., 1972.

    Harris, Nathaniel. The Sixties. London: Macdonald Education Ltd., 1975.

    “Hippies” WorldBook Multimedia Encyclopedia. CD-ROM.

    Stern, Jane and Michael. Sixties People. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1990.

    This Fabulous Century. New York: Time-Life Books, 1970.

    Outline Thesis: During the 1960’s a radical group called the Hippies shocked America with their alternative lifestyles and radical beliefs.

    B. They gathered in the Haight Ashbury District

    C. Their out of the ordinary antics

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