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How did the counterculture and expanding rights revolution of the 1960s and 1970s influence American society? Counter culture gained relevance and shaped the youth’s minds on various topics. Women started to fight against social norms. Other minorities groups such as Latinos, Asian Americans, and Indian started to speak up for their rights. Americans started to notice and protest our destruction of the environment.
The counter culture movement was about going against the norms set by mainstream culture. The main things counterculture went against was the traditions of dress, music, and personal behaviors. Baby boomers who had counter culture ideals can be consider hippies.. Hippies are about peace, love, and freedom. Musicians had an effect on Baby Boomers political opinions. Artists such as Bob Dylan wrote songs about civil rights and peace. Overall counter culture convinced young Americans to stand up for what they believe in.“As radical musician John Sinclair put it, rock became ‘a weapon of cultural revolution,’ urging listeners to reject conventions and , in many cases, the political policies of the government.” (Section 1, Page 683)
After World War II women were content to letting the men regain their jobs and for women to go back to staying at home. But after counterculture and civil right movements started to rise in popularity women also began to strive to be equal to their male counterparts. “The civil rights movement both inspired women to demand gender equality and taught them ways to get it.” (Section 2, Page 687) Women also wanted to have jobs in typically male dominated fields. Betty Friedan, author of The Feminine Mystique, helped form the National Organization for Women also known as NOW. NOW had two goals in mind. The first being to pass the Equal Rights Amendment which would ensure gender equality across the nation. The second was to protect the reproductive rights of women. To allow them the right to an abortion. So that women wouldn’t have to turn illegal and dangerous routes to get rid of a pregnancy they didn’t want. Feminism had vocal opposition from conservatives and even other women such as Phyllis Schlafly. The ball started rolling when The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed and the ruling from Roe v. Wade. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 gave feminists a legal tool to use to ensure they would not be discriminated against just because of their sex. Roe v. Wade assured women the right to legal abortions.
After witnessing African Americans and Women having their rights expanded, other ethnic minorities wanted a piece of the action as well. Latinos were discriminated harshly especially after World War II. Latinos were usually migrant farmworkers where they had to endure deplorable conditions, with no benefits. Cesar Chavez was a very vocal activist that fought for farm laborers and for better conditions for Latinos. He formed a union then merged it into what became the United Farm Workers or the UFW. After doing some worker strikes and boycott of grapes California passed a law that ensured that farm owners had to bargain with union representatives. Overall Latinos managed to get finally get representation eventually. “By 1980, six Hispanics sat in Congress, representing districts from New York to California.” (Section 3, Page 694) Indians also formed groups such as the American Indian Movement to have their voices heard. Indians wanted to be able to self govern their tribes resources and how education was handled inside the tribe. The Indian Self-Determination Act of 1975 fulfilled what the Indians wanted.
“In 1952, however, a blanket of deadly smog, caused by coal fires, engulfed the city of London, killing some 12,000 people.” (Section 4, Page 699) Americans started to become more concerned about the well being of the environment. They started to protest how reckless industrial businesses were to the environment. Rachel Carson wrote a book called the Silent Spring which kick-started the modern environmental movement. Earth Day protests started to pop up across the nation. About 20 million Americans were said to have participated in the 1970s Earth Day protests. Nixon was for protecting the environment but he didn’t make it a huge part of campaign to become president. He wanted to take a neutral route to it. But when he became president and Earth Day protests started happening all over the nation he realized he had to take action. Congress formed the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970. There goal was to protect the planet. Nixon signed several acts that helped protect the planet. The Clean Air Act limited the amount of emissions from factories and cars. The Clean Water Act did exactly like the name implies. It works to limit the amount pollution that is put into water. The Endangered Species Act sought to protect America’s dying wildlife.
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