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Portal:1960s

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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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Buzz Aldrin on the Moon in a photograph taken by Neil Armstrong, who can be seen in the visor reflection along with Earth, the Lunar Module Eagle, and the U.S. flag

Apollo 11 (July 16–24, 1969) was the American spaceflight that first landed humans on the Moon. Commander Neil Armstrong and Lunar Module Pilot Buzz Aldrin landed the Apollo Lunar Module Eagle on July 20, 1969, at 20:17 UTC, and Armstrong became the first person to step onto the Moon's surface six hours and 39 minutes later, on July 21 at 02:56 UTC. Aldrin joined him 19 minutes later, and they spent about two and a quarter hours together exploring the site they had named Tranquility Base upon landing. Armstrong and Aldrin collected 47.5 pounds (21.5 kg) of lunar material to bring back to Earth as pilot Michael Collins flew the Command Module Columbia in lunar orbit, and were on the Moon's surface for 21 hours, 36 minutes before lifting off to rejoin Columbia.

Apollo 11 was launched by a Saturn V rocket from Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island, Florida, on July 16 at 13:32 UTC, and it was the fifth crewed mission of NASA's Apollo program. The Apollo spacecraft had three parts: a command module (CM) with a cabin for the three astronauts, the only part that returned to Earth; a service module (SM), which supported the command module with propulsion, electrical power, oxygen, and water; and a lunar module (LM) that had two stages—a descent stage for landing on the Moon and an ascent stage to place the astronauts back into lunar orbit. (Full article...)

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On the evening of 8 December 1980, the English musician John Lennon, formerly of the Beatles, was shot and fatally wounded in the archway of the Dakota, his residence in New York City. The killer, Mark David Chapman, was an American Beatles fan who was envious and enraged by Lennon's lifestyle, alongside his 1966 comment that the Beatles were "more popular than Jesus". Chapman said he was inspired by the fictional character Holden Caulfield from J. D. Salinger's novel The Catcher in the Rye, a "phony-killer" who loathes hypocrisy.

Chapman planned the killing over several months and waited for Lennon at the Dakota on the morning of 8 December. Early in the evening, Chapman met Lennon, who signed his copy of the album Double Fantasy and subsequently left for a recording session at the Record Plant. Later that night, Lennon and his wife, Yoko Ono, returned to the Dakota to say goodnight to their son before an impromptu date night. As Lennon and Ono approached the entrance of the building, Chapman fired five hollow-point bullets from a .38 special revolver, four of which hit Lennon in the back. Lennon was rushed to Roosevelt Hospital in a police car, where he was pronounced dead on arrival at 11:15 p.m. at age 40. Chapman remained at the scene reading The Catcher in the Rye until he was arrested by the police. It was later discovered that Chapman considered Lennon's friend David Bowie a target. (Full article...)
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Promotional poster for Mantra-Rock Dance musical event
Promotional poster for Mantra-Rock Dance musical event
Credit: Harvey W. Cohen
The Mantra-Rock Dance musical event took place on January 29, 1967, at the Avalon Ballroom in San Francisco and came to be dubbed as the "ultimate high" and the "major spiritual event" of the hippie era. It was organized by the early followers of the Hare Krishna movement as a promotional and fundraising effort for their first temple on the West Coast. One of them, Harvey W. Cohen, created the Stanley Mouse inspired promotional poster (pictured). The Mantra-Rock Dance featured the Hare Krishna founder Bhaktivedanta Swami, the countercultural ideologues Allen Ginsberg and Timothy Leary, and leading rock groups the Grateful Dead, Moby Grape, and Janis Joplin with Big Brother and the Holding Company. The event caused the Hare Krishna mantra to be adopted by all levels of the counterculture as a "loose commonality" and a viable alternative to drugs.

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Tents in Resurrection City in Washington, D.C.

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Shepard in 1971

Alan Bartlett Shepard Jr. (November 18, 1923 – July 21, 1998) was an American astronaut. In 1961, he became the second person and the first American to travel into space and, in 1971, he became the fifth and oldest person to walk on the Moon, at age 47.

A graduate of the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Shepard saw action with the surface navy during World War II. He became a naval aviator in 1947, and a test pilot in 1950. He was selected as one of the original NASA Mercury Seven astronauts in 1959, and in May 1961 he made the first crewed Project Mercury flight, Mercury-Redstone 3, in a spacecraft he named Freedom 7. His craft entered space, but was not capable of achieving orbit. He became the second person, and the first American, to travel into space. In the final stages of Project Mercury, Shepard was scheduled to pilot the Mercury-Atlas 10 (MA-10), which was planned as a three-day mission. He named Mercury Spacecraft 15B Freedom 7 II in honor of his first spacecraft, but the mission was canceled. (Full article...)

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Shankar performing in 1969

Ravi Shankar (Bengali pronunciation: [ˈrobi ˈʃɔŋkor]; born Robindro Shaunkor Chowdhury, sometimes spelled as Rabindra Shankar Chowdhury; 7 April 1920 – 11 December 2012) was an Indian sitarist and composer. A sitar virtuoso, he became the world's best-known expert of North Indian classical music in the second half of the 20th century, and influenced many musicians in India and throughout the world. Shankar was awarded India's highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna, in 1999.

Shankar was born to a Bengali family in India, and spent his youth as a dancer touring India and Europe with the dance group of his brother Uday Shankar. At age 18, he gave up dancing to pursue a career in music, studying the sitar for seven years under court musician Allauddin Khan. After finishing his studies in 1944, Shankar worked as a composer, creating the music for the Apu Trilogy by Satyajit Ray, and was music director of All India Radio, New Delhi, from 1949 to 1956. He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Score for scoring the blockbuster Gandhi (1982). (Full article...)

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In November 1963, President Ngô Đình Diệm and the Personalist Labor Revolutionary Party of the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam) were deposed by a group of CIA-backed Army of the Republic of Vietnam officers who disagreed with Diệm's handling of the Buddhist crisis and the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong threat to South Vietnam. In South Vietnam, the coup was referred to as Cách mạng 1-11-63 ("1 November 1963 Revolution").

The Kennedy administration had been aware of the coup planning, but Cable 243 from the United States Department of State to U.S. Ambassador to South Vietnam Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. stated that it was U.S. policy not to try to stop it. Lucien Conein, the Central Intelligence Agency's liaison between the U.S. Embassy and the coup planners, told them that the U.S. would not intervene to stop it. Conein also provided funds to the coup leaders. (Full article...)
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