There’s a new line of thought being developed by many journalists. They’re making a plea for a fresh look at the protesters that have usurped town hall debates across the country, arguing that many civil rights activists in the 1960s didn’t always know what they were doing either, as Mitch Albom suggests.
Albom may be onto something. The 1960s may not be as rosy as second wavers and civil rights activists imagine. In the early 1960s, black people rose in rebellion all over the Deep South in response to the memory of slavery. Their deep and constant humiliation was found in poetry, music, occasional outbursts of anger and more frequent sullen silences as they pledged themselves again and again to passive resistance.
The 1960s also marks the decade when two buses left from Washington, D.C., on May 4, 1961, only to be burned, with riders beaten because of their affiliation with other Freedom Riders; when prisoners, instead of shattering rocks on a work gang in Georgia, smashed their own legs with sledgehammers to call attention to the daily brutality they suffered; and when civil rights workers go missing. Come to your own conclusions about Albom’s analogy. There are plenty of resources for mining the Internet for cultural and political historians of the 1960s. Here are a choice few of them:
PBS produced a timeline of the 1960s with resources for teachers and students.
The Seattle Times presents a discussion of Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement.
Ron Jones’ famous social experiment, The Third Wave, was a proto-fascist movement among his high school students in 1967, and is a cultural artifact of the 1960s.
Ella Baker, who advocated for civic engagement in a participatory democracy, is one of the superstar civil right activists of the 1960s, and has a Web site dedicated to retelling her biography.
To sate the increasing interest in presidential private thoughts, catch up with John Quincy Adams on Twitter, read George Washington’s diaries or visit the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum to take a peek at Johnson’s diary.