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Through out history the world has seen some generations that have

made an impact more than all of its predecessors. The decade from 1960

to 1970 was definitely one of those eras. The people didn’t follow the

teachings of its elders, but rejected them for an alternative culture

which was their very own(Harris 14). Made up of the younger population

of the time this new culture was such a radical society that they were

given their own name which is still used today. They came to be called

the Hippies. The Hippie movement started in San Francisco, California

and spread across the United States, through Canada, and into parts of

Europe (World Book). But it had its greatest influence in America.

During the 1960’s a radical group called the Hippies shocked America

with their alternative lifestyle and radical beliefs.

Hippies came from many different places and had many different

backgrounds. All Hippies were young, from the ages of 15 to 25

(Worldbook). They left their families and did it for many different

reasons. Some rejected their parents’ ideas, some just wanted to get

away, and others simply were outcasts, who could only fit in with the

Hippie population. “Under 25 became a magical age, and young people all

over the world were united by this bond” (Harris 15). This bond was of

Non-conformity and it was the “Creed of the Young” (Harris 15). Most

Hippies came from wealthy middle class families. Some people said that

they were spoiled and wasting their lives away. But to Hippies

themselves this was a way of life and no one was going to get in the

way of their dreams and ambitions.

Hippies flocked to a certain area of San Francisco on the corner

of Haight Street and Ashbury Street, where the world got their first

view of this unique group. This place came to be known as the Haight

Ashbury District. There were tours of the district and it was said that

the tour “was the only foreign tour within the continental limits of

the United States” (Stern 147). The Hippies were so different that the

conservative middle class could not relate to them and saw them as

aliens. The Haight Ashbury district lies in the very center of San

Francisco. In the years of 1965 and 1966 the Hippies took over the

Haight Ashbury district(Cavan 49). There they lived and spread their

psychedelic theme through out the whole area. In the Haight Ashbury

district there were two parks that that all Hippies knew well. The most

famous of the two was the Golden Gate Park(Cavan 43). The single most

important event that put the Hippies on the map was held at the Golden

Gate Park. It was called the Trips Festival. The Trips Festival was a

week long festival designed to celebrate the LSD experience(Stern 148).

Besides this festival dozens of other events took place at Golden Gate

Park, some of which were free concerts by The Grateful Dead and

Jefferson Airplane and Anti-War rallies held by Hippie political

leaders. The other park is called the Buena Vista park and is known for

housing hippies at night and for socializing during the day.

As the 1960’s progressed, the youth in America united. “In 1969

400,000 young people materialized for three dizzying days to listen to

rock and blues music, to wear funny clothing or no clothes at all, to

talk, sing, dance, clap hands, to drink beer or smoke pot and make

love-but mostly to marvel again and again that they were all there

together” (This Fabulous Century 64). This festival was held in a small

town in up-state New York and came to be called Woodstock, after the

town it was held in. Also in Greenwich Village, New York Hippies had a

place. The Village on every Sunday was known to have hordes of singers

with banjos and drums celebrating their youth together(Stern 103).

One of the basic foundations of the Hippie movement was the

flagrant use of illegal drugs. There were many drugs that the Hippies

used but none was more used then marijuana. From 1960 to 1970 the

number of Americans who had tried marijuana had increased from a few

hundred thousand to 8,000,000. The majority of these new users were

from 12 years old to college seniors(This Fabulous Century 84). To some

Hippies, drugs and music were the most important aspects of their

lives. Another drug that was prevalent in the Hippie population was

LSD. Some Hippies thought that “LSD puts you in touch with your

surroundings” (Cavan 114). But that was not what always the case. On

occasion a hippie would take bad LSD and would experience a “bad trip”

or would “freak out” (Cavan 115). When someone took bad LSD, freak out

is exactly what they would do and sometimes they never came back. Bad

LSD was so common that even at Woodstock people were having bad trips

and freaking out. Even with this bad LSD everywhere people still used

it, they went as far as to make a religion out of it. A man by the name

of Dr. Timothy Leary was a Harvard professor who had ideas about LSD.

He said “LSD is western yoga. The aim of all Eastern religion, like the

aim of LSD, is basically to get high; that is to expand your

consciousness and find ecstasy and revelation within” (This Fabulous

Century 84). Another preacher of the use of LSD was an author by the

name of Ken Keasey. He traveled around the United States in a

psychedelic bus giving LSD to anyone and everyone who would take it.

Hippies were notorious for there out of the ordinary music. Many

Hippies were actually musicians themselves. Hippies used music as a way

to get their thoughts and ideas out. One of the most influential

musicians of the time was Bob Dylan. The lyrics of the song “Like

Rolling Stone” express the thoughts of many Hippies. They say:

How does it feel; How does it feel

To be without a home

Like a complete unknown

Like a rolling stone?(Harris 69)

These lyrics expressed Dylan’s personal thoughts to what was happening

to him. He did feel “like a rolling stone” and so did his peers. His

simple but meaningful lyrics are what made him so popular and

successful. Many Hippies considered Dylan as a spokesman for their

beliefs. Drugs were also themes in many bands songs. Jimmy Hendrix’s

“Purple Haze” is about marijuana. “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” is a

Beatles song about LSD. The Grateful Dead also took part in the fad

with their song “Casey Jones,” with lyrics such as “High on Cocaine”

and “You better watch your Speed.”

Besides their music and drugs Hippies did some out of the

ordinary things that were as shocking as their day-glo clothing. It was

common for hippies in the Haight Ashbury District to put a nickel in a

parking meter, then set up blankets and lie down in the space for a

half hour(Stern 161). This was unusual behavior so it is not strange

that the public did not take them seriously. “People thought Hippies

were the next funniest thing to the Three Stooges”(Stern 161).

Television shows like the successful Laugh In made fun of this counter

culture. Movies made fun of them as well. One called the Presidents

Analyst was extremely successful. The movie was dedicated “to the life,

liberty, and pursuit of happenings,” and was based on the Hippies wacky

antics. People all over the America were outraged at how strange these

people were and at the same time were in tears at how funny they were.

Even though from afar the Hippies were entertaining, in reality

they were devastating the American family and were tearing the country

in two. While the adults of the time were conservative, hard working,

and caring mainly about money, the Hippies didn’t care about any of

that. They were party animals. Many didn’t work unless it was

completely necessary, they never went to church nor did they care for

saving their virginity until after they were married. They were

anything but conservative and their families rejected them for it.

Hippies easy going attitudes and fun and games lifestyles were

put away when the topic of politics came up. Indubitably the instigator

for their existence, politics played a huge role in their lives. Having

strongest feelings for the Vietnam War and for the Civil Rights

Movement, the Hippies made their beliefs known to the world. They did

this in many ways including musical shows, pacifist folk songs, and

through peaceful sit-ins(This Fabulous Century 206). But none of their

actions were more seen and heard of then their protests and rallies.

The Hippies were aware that the war was being lost and that thousands

of American soldiers were dying. They took it upon themselves the make

their beliefs heard. They put together a protest larger then the ever

before. Once organized not just Hippies came, but students,

intellectuals, radicals, and citizens of all classes took part in it

(Harris 36). This protest was held in Washington DC in the heart of the

United States. 250,000 protesters gathered for one common goal. They

wanted their troops to come back home and for United States involvement

in the war to be ended. Through the years of the Vietnam War hundreds a

anti-war rallies were held. By the decades end protests seemed to have

done some good. Sixty five percent of all Americans had similar views

as the hippies(This Fabulous Century 206). They wanted their troops

back and that’s what they got in the 1969 when the President gave the

word to bring them back home.

Hippies had other feelings about racism and persecution. They

took part in the civil rights movement, just as they did in the for the

Vietnam troops. When President Kennedy tried to pass his Civil Rights

policies and they never went through, the Hippies were more aggravated

(Harris 8) Eventually some Hippies tried to make their colonies where

there was no racism and persecution. There were Hippie communes all

over the United States. Some communes believed that they were “fighting

against the white man’s perverted society of pollution ,war, and greed

(Stern 166). These communes didn’t get very popular and failed after a

few years. Hippies still fought for racial equality. Finally when the

1960’s were over new laws were put into action helping racial equality

which would not have happened without the Hippies.

During the 1960’s a radical group called the hippies shocked

America with their alternative lifestyle and radical beliefs. They were

young people who enjoyed life to its fullest. They used illegal drugs

and listened to rock and roll music. With their alternative beliefs and

practices they stunned America’s conservative middle class. Concerned

chiefly protesting the Vietnam War and with civil rights they made a

huge impact on the America and the world. Even today the effects of the

Hippie movement is still felt. They made huge advantages and set

examples for the youth of today and years to come.

Works Sited

Cavan, Sherry. Hippies Of The Haight. St.Louis: New Critics Press, Inc., 1972.

Harris, Nathaniel. The Sixties. London: Macdonald Education Ltd., 1975.

“Hippies” WorldBook Multimedia Encyclopedia. CD-ROM.

Stern, Jane and Michael. Sixties People. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1990.

This Fabulous Century. New York: Time-Life Books, 1970.

Outline Thesis: During the 1960’s a radical group called the Hippies shocked America with their alternative lifestyles and radical beliefs.

I. Who were the Hippies?

A.Their backgrounds

B. They gathered in the Haight Ashbury District

II. Their alternative lifestyles

A. Drugs and their influences

B. Music. and its influences

C. Their out of the ordinary antics

D. Effects on the family

III. Radical Beliefs

A. Protesting Vietnam

B. Protecting Civil Rights

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