Re: [sixties-l] Glad The L's Back

From: Peter Levy (
Date: Wed Jun 07 2000 - 13:46:28 CUT

  • Next message: Levin, Marc: "RE: [sixties-l] World War II Babies"

    I guess I'll weigh in on this discussion of generations and perioization
    at this point. Jezel's point about re-examining the 1950s suggests that
    the notion that the baby boom generation produced the rebellion of the
    sixties has been greatly exaggerated. The Beats were not just omens of
    things to come, they contributed greatly to the expansion of
    freedom--freedom of the press, speech, etc.--that was one of the goals of
    the early New Left. Let's not forget that Ginsburg, Burrows and others
    were involved in critical censorship cases. Lisewise the peace movement
    pre-existed the anti-Vietnam war movement, includluding groups like the
    War Ressiters League, Women's Strike for Peace, CNVA, and SANE, all of
    which were included many no-baby boomers as members. The civil rights
    movement was cross-generational as well. For instance, when SNCC arrived
    in Mississippi they linked up with an older generation of activists, such
    as Amzie Moore and Medgar Evers, and mobilized both the young and the old,
    from Hollis Watkins to Fannie Lou Hamer. My own study of Cambridge, Md
    finds that while the young were often the first to protest, the movement
    can not be understood very well in generational terms. Moreover, we need
    to remember that it was not just the YAF that attracted conservative baby
    boomers. In Mississippi, for example, white youths allied with their
    parents in opposition to the desegregation of Ole Miss--Trent Lott for
    example was the head cheerleader at Ole Miss when Ross Barnett rallied
    students against integration. Later in the decade, white youths from
    South Boston protested against busing. In terms of the war, we need to
    remember that thousands of American baby boomers volunteered to fight in
    Vietnam and it wasn't simply because they were born before or after WWII.
    I suggest that we consider the impact that class, location and even
    religious affilation had on those who came of age in the sixties. WE also
    need to see that a master national narrative doesn't work that well. The
    situation in Berkeley was different than it was in Austin and it was even
    more different in non-college towns. Glad to see the list back. By the
    way, I'm looking for information on white and /or black students who went
    to Cambridge, MD, particularly in the early and mid-1960s. Many students
    from Swarthmore, including Carl Whitman went, as did members of Brooklyn
    CORE. Please repsond directly to me if you can help me in this matter.
    YOurs, Peter B. Levy, Dept. of History, York College, York, PA 17405

    On Tue, 6 Jun 2000, Marty Jezer wrote:

    > At 06:34 AM 6/6/2000 -0400, you wrote:
    > > Anyway, I remember the later 50's as being an
    > >extremely exciting and hopeful period. We felt change in the air.
    > >Gretchen Dutschke
    > Speaking of the complexity of generations, we need a fresh look at the
    > fifties. The conformist, organization man, suburban buttoned-down repress
    > fifties was the mainstream reality, but there was so much going on beneath
    > the surface. As Abbie Hoffman once said, "there wouldn't have been the
    > sixties, if not for the fifties." Or something like that.
    > Bebop and hard bop, the first folk revival (a breakthrough for what the
    > Almanacs/Weavers were trying to do), the beats and abstract expressionists,
    > the sick comics (Lenny Bruce,
    > Mort Sahl, etc.) iconoclasts like radio's Jean Shepherd, the Village Voice,
    > doo wop (and white kids getting seriously into black music), not to mention
    > in politics the ban the bombers
    > (Committee for Nonviolent Action and SANE), the NYC air raid protests
    > (Catholic Workers and WRL). The consensus that dominated the corporate
    > fifties began to fracture in the mid-fifties and it was from the
    > underground ferment that the new left and the counter-culture was born.
    > The civil rights movement had it's own antecedents but the fact that so
    > many young whites were ready to embrace the cause stems from the ferment of
    > the fifties.
    > Just wingin' it,
    > Marty Jezer
    > --
    > Marty Jezer * 22 Prospect St. * Brattleboro, VT 05301 * p/f 802 257-5644
    > Author:
    > Stuttering: A Life Bound Up in Words (Basic Books)
    > Abbie Hoffman: American Rebel (Rutgers University Press)
    > The Dark Ages: Life in the USA, 1945-1960 (South End Press)
    > Rachel Carson [American Women of Achievement Series] (Chelsea House)
    > Check out my web page:
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