Source: wikipedia

Source: wikipedia

By Francisco Lugo

About the movement

America’s golden age is typically imagined as the classical 1950’s lifestyle of the nuclear family, the suburban home, and the traditional roles of men and women to conform to this ideal. With the development of baby boomers into teenagers during the 1960’s however, the status quo came to be challenged by those people we call hippies who had had enough of the conservative traditional values they felt were being pushed onto them.

Hippies were all about breaking down societal norms and establishing their own ideas of what culture and living should be. They were very much antiestablishment and felt that corporate businesses and government created many of the problems that society faced such as war and living for money.

They dabbled in drugs, they wore flowers in their hair, the men grew out their beards, and women were encouraged to express their sexuality freely. They protested war and lived in communes, which were basically villages or compounds where people would divide tasks and live self-sustaining lifestyles.

I had never asked anybody that had lived through that time period what they thought of the hippie movement and so I talked to my grandparents about it. Although they had lived in Mexico during the time, they had heard much about the movement through media such as television and newspapers.

“All I know is that they seemed like a bunch of wanderers; vagabonds I guess you would say,” said my grandmother.

“Hippies just wanted to smoke weed and be left alone,” said my grandfather.

After this brief yet insightful mini interview, I had quickly learned that not everyone was exactly supportive of the movement. Politicians feared that hippies  Though it is true that drugs and homelessness were a large part of being a hippie, there was much more to their ideas and dreams.

 

Important places, events and figures of the movement

Of course with the rise of a major movement, comes the rise of important voices and faces along with it. As I briefly mentioned before, a big part of hippie culture was drugs. They would often go to concerts and festivals where they would take multitudes of drugs and explore their consciousness and sexuality. Another big aspect of the counterculture also involved  the idea of “free love”, which encouraged people to be with whoever they want whenever they want, a major change from the traditions of past America.

Big names such as Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane and Carlos Santana mesmerized the crowds of LSD tripping hippies with their music at various festivals, often under the influence of LSD and other drugs themselves.

In 1967, the Human Be-In at San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park was the first large scale concert of the hippie movement where hundreds of people were high on drugs, with many of the aforementioned artists participating in the festivities. Because of the success of this concert, it laid down the foundation for arguably the most famous event of the entire movement; Woodstock. Held in Bethel, New York, Woodstock was a massive musical event. An estimated 500,000 people attended the concert which spanned four days.

For more details you can look at my sources here and here as well as the archives of the NY Times and Time Magazine.

Francisco Lugo is a Journalism Major at Texas State University. 

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