Noilly Prattle: Looking Back: 24 – the late 60s in a nutshell

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Looking Back: 24 – the late 60s in a nutshell

 motel balcony on which MLK was shot in Memphis, TN
     1968 seems, in retrospect, to have been a watershed year. The Vietnam War was becoming increasingly problematic for students approaching graduation with the prospect of losing their draft deferments. The violence going on in Vietnam showed no signs of easing up nor of ending in anything that could pass as a victory. Worse still, was the reverberating unrest at home in increasingly violent protests and demonstrations on college and university campuses. And then the apostle of non-violence met with his own violent end in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4, 1968. Martin Luther King was gunned down on a motel balcony under circumstances that have always remained cloudy.

assassination of Robert Kennedy
        The turmoil in the fracturing social fabric was reflected in the presidential campaign of that year. It was a year of violence, political turbulence and civil unrest. Riots occurred in over 100 cities following the assassination of King. Adding fuel to the fire, Robert Kennedy, a Democratic presidential hopeful, was shot and killed in Los Angeles in a hotel restaurant kitchen on June 5, 1968, again under circumstances that remain unsatisfactorily resolved--the second Kennedy brother to fall to an assassin's bullet. 

police at the Democratic National Convention, 1968
       The now famous Democratic National Convention of August, 1968 was held against a backdrop of nationally televised rioting by police and protesters with chants of “Hell no, we won't go!” (to Vietnam) degenerating into taunts of “Pigs are whores,” spiced with roiling clouds of mace and tear gas. The convention eventually nominated Hubert Humphrey as its Democratic presidential candidate, but it was said at the time that that night America voted for Richard Nixon, who had campaigned on ending the Vietnam War.

with my niece and Lance (a boy I was
working with as a Big brother)
        Nixon was sworn in as President in January,1969. Things seemed to calm down for a while on the campuses while we awaited the promised ending of the Vietnam War. It seemed a long time coming, but life went on on campus as usual. My roommate, M and I deciding to stay together, pooled our State living allowances and move off campus. I had my Volkswagen and M had a motorcycle, we rented a 2-bedroom apartment not too far from the campus and got on with our classes and activities. I was a History Major with no particular minor, choosing elective classes as the spirit moved me. M was majoring in Psychology but seemed more interested in cooking. In fact, he was something of a gourmet chef. When he cooked we ate very well, when I cooked it was hamburgers and hot dogs. While I was still more interested in our discussion group activities and my elective subjects, I did give my Major coursework more attention and pulled my grades back up to A and B levels and eventually graduated with honors.

        Euphoria rang out the 60s, but horror ushered in the 70s.

To be continued...

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