It is the year 2325 and hundreds of years beyond the time of dominance the United States of America. This once super power is now just part of the North American Empire. While doing and archeological dig in the mid eastern area of the empire we discovered a time capsule from the 1960s. This time capsule had five things that were enclosed represented very important parts of that decade to the American people. Those five things were a Moon rock, an audio recording of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream Speech”, a banner that read “Women’s Liberation”, an LSD Drop, and the dress of Jackie Kennedy Onassis. These items may seem small and unrelated but they tell a much grander story than you could possibly imagine. Each item represents a major part of the 1960s and I will explain the significance of each. On July 20, 1969 the United States placed the first human on the moon. This journey began on May 25, 1961 when then President John F. Kennedy announced the goal of putting the first man on the moon. The NASA space program was started on October 25, 1958 in a race with the communist country of the USSR for dominance. The soviets made the first big jump by making cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin the first man in space on April 12, 1961.
This event is what prompted President kenned to start the programs Mercury, Gemini and Apollo with the goal of beating the communist soviets to moon. Apollo 11 the mission that successfully placed a man on the moon, lifted off on July 16, 1969. The Moon rock was brought back to earth by Neil Armstrong, the first man to set foot on the moon, and Neil “Buzz” Aldrin who soon followed him. While the two of them completed the lunar walk Michael Collins manned the command module above the moon. This achievement was not only great for the scientific advances but also for showing dominance to main foe of the United States. The lunar walk was the last and greatest achievement for NASA in the decade of the 1960’s. The audio recording of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech tells a very broad story. Dr King was face and front man of the civil rights movement in the 1960’s. He made many speeches but this one in particular is the most famous and most powerful. Up until the 1960’s many minorities in the U.S was were treated as second class citizens, particularly African Americans.
They were denied the right to vote as well as many freedoms that typically Caucasians received. The country had instituted segregation that separated the “whites” from the “Coloreds” and this lead to civil unrest. Eventually protest, sit-ins, and marches began to happen in order to gain equal rights for all races. Dr. King a young minister became the figure head for the movement and help lead an organized fight against segregation. During the fight a March on Washington was planned to bring more attention to the plight of minorities in the U.S and help get the Civil Rights Act passed. Multiple groups of all races and backgrounds including the NAACP and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference planned an expected turn out of one hundred thousand people but ended up being an estimated two hundred thousand. The march occurred August 28, 1963. Dr. King did not intend to give such a pivotal speech but on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial he gave the most famous speech of the 20th century. During his speech he spoke of all people rising together and sharing a beautiful world as one.
He spoke about justice and equality, it was not speech filled with hate but a speech filled with hope. Dr. King famously spoke the words: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”(King, 1963). After this speech many people realized that the outside appearance of an individual should not matter but who they are as a person is the only thing that they should be judged upon. This speech and the march it is from eventually lead the the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. If what Dr. King and the Civil rights movement had to be summed up in one speech then the “I Have a Dream” speech is a prime example. While the fight for civil rights waged on another fight for equality was being fought on another front. The banner that read “Women’s Liberation” represents the Women’s Movement of the 1960s. The women’s movement started long before the 1960s but it made great strides for equality for women during that decade. Just like the Civil Rights movement women staged marches and protest to bring attention to the mistreatment of women in the U.S. Unlike the minorities of the decade women actually had gained the right to vote and many other achievements.
During the mid 1960s the National Organization for Women was created and it helped to change the sexist views of women and their contributions to society. The main focus of the decade was equal pay for equal work. Women were being paid lower wages for the same job that men were doing. Also women were being discriminated against in favor of men for occupations. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 not only made it illegal for employers to discriminate based on race but also on sex or gender. This was a major win for women and minorities alike. Thanks to the efforts of women and the government The Equal Pay Act was passed and it stated that it was illegal to pay women less than men for the same job. The fight for equality in workplace would continue on for many years following the passing of the Civil Rights Act and the Equal Pay Act but they were major victories during that time. Women also fought for the right to use birth control. Although some forms birth control was already legal and readily available, oral birth control and abortions were prohibited. Griswold v. Connecticut (1965) ruled that married couples had the right to privacy and were allowed have birth control based on the Constitution.
This victory eventually leads to all women having the right to abortions and birth control. All of these things were accomplished because women stood together in unison to fight for equality similar to the minorities of the same era. Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) or Acid as it is commonly called became commonplace in psychedelic 60’s music, art and the counterculture movement. LSD is a recreational drug and is considered a hallucinogen; it is known for its effects on the thinking process, false visuals, altered senses of time and mind. Many musical artists, writers and musicians used LSD to help them create. Psychedelics became part of the culture itself and motivated many of the iconic items of the 1960’s. The use started in the Hippie culture which was the antithesis of the conservative culture of the 1950’s. They brought along such things as tie-dye shirts, black lights, free-spirits and embraced drugs and sexual freedom. They also embraced peace and love and were against the violence and prejudice of the times. The hippies, who were manly in New York and San Francisco, drug use and culture influenced literature, art and music. The biggest example of the LSD influence was definitely the music. Many great musicians and song writers appeared during the 1960’s and were know their drug use.
Artist such as Jimi Hendrix, The Grateful Dead, Jim Morrison, the Beatles, and Janis Joplin were the poster children for LSD use and music. In what is considered one the greatest festivals of all time Woodstock Festival was considered a landmark event not only for the music and culture but also for the decade of the 1960s. The three day event occurred on 15-18 August 1969 in upstate New York. The festival attracted an estimated three hundred to four hundred thousand people. LSD and other drugs were prominently used and many of the artists who used them preformed during the festival. This accomplishment was so successful that many other people attempted to recreate it. It may seem odd that a drug or drugs could influence an entire culture that made such a huge impact on the society of the time but, it seems that a little drop of Acid could go a long way. You are probably wondering why someone would simply place the dress of a former First Lady of the United States in a Time capsule. The reason for that is it the dress that she wore during the funeral of her husband John F. Kennedy. The dress is the reminder of the hope and tragedy that faced the U.S. in the 1960s. To the American people the Kennedy family was more than just a first family they were almost like royalty.
When President Kennedy was elected to the presidency in 1960 it seemed as though that they nation was headed in a new hopeful, and prosperous direction. The Kennedy’s also allowed the American people in their lives. They saw inside the white and watched how the family interacted with one another with love and happiness. The people of America felt as though they were part of the family as well. When JFK was assassinated on November 22, 1963 it seemed that all hope had died with him. The country mourned right along with his wife and children. His death changed many things politically and how people viewed the world at the time. But just like Jackie Kennedy the mourning only lasted for a while and the widow as well as the country picked themselves back and unified to move forward. Her dress represents how a nation can take a massive blow and come back stronger and better than ever. This time capsule had five things that were enclosed represented very important parts of that decade to the American people. Those five things were a Moon rock, an audio recording of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream Speech”, a banner that read “Women’s Liberation”, an LSD Drop, and the dress of Jackie Kennedy Onassis. These items seemed small and unrelated but told a much greater story than you could possibly imagine. Each item represents a major part of the 1960s and I explained the significance of each in great detail. The question is now what can we learn from our past?
Farber, D., (1994) . The age of great dreams: America in the 1960’s. Hill and Wang, New York, New York. Project Apollo: A Retrospective Analysis. Retrieved from: http://history.nasa.gov/Apollomon/Apollo.html Yuri Gagarin: First Man in Space. Retrieved from: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/shuttle/sts1/gagarin_anniversary.html NASA History in Brief (2011). Retrieved from: http://history.nasa.gov/brief.html King, Martin L. (1963) “I have a Dream…” Speech. Retrieved from: http://www.archives.gov/press/exhibits/dream-speech.pdf History.Com (2009) March on Washington. Retrieved from: http://www.history.com/topics/black-history/march-on-washington Wood, L. Maren The Women’s Movement. Retrieved from: http://www.learnnc.org/lp/editions/nchist-postwar/6055 Cliff Notes (2013) The Counterculture of the 1960s. Retrieved from: http://www.cliffsnotes.com/more-subjects/history/us-history-ii/the-new-frontier-and-the-great-society/the-counterculture-of-the-1960s