1966–1975 Peace & Protest

From the Summer of Love to Women's Lib, Gay Rights and Black Panthers

Then the lights shone brilliant orange and the tear gas guns exploded putt-putt-puttutt, and the ministers dipped their cross into a halo of smothering fog. The gas hit like a great wall of pepper and you ran coughing into the streets, where you knew there would be rocks to throw and windows to smash and something to feel besides fear.

The soldiers stood on all the bridges, sealing off Grant Park from the city streets. The kids couldn't be gassed anymore, because the wind was blowing fumes across the guarded bridges and into every open pore of the Conrad Hilton, and the hotel was filled with good people who had tears in their eyes. So the soldiers just stood with their empty guns poised against the tide. And they were frowning at the kids who shouted "put down your guns; join us." A few hid flowers in their uniforms, and some smiled, but mostly, they stood posing for their own death masks.

"Wouldn't you rather hold a girl than a gun?" asked one kid with his arm around two willing chicks.

"You don't understand," the soldier stammered, moving his tongue across his lips. "It's orders. We have to be here."

That was Wednesday—nomination day—and the city was braced for escalation. At the afternoon rally, an American flag was hauled down, and the police responded by wading into the center of the crowd, with clubs flying. The kids built barricades of vacated benches, pelted the police with branches, and tossed plastic bags of cow's blood over their heads. . . .

With every semblance of press identification I owned pinned to my shirt, I set out across the mall. But most of the crowd had the same idea. Across on Michigan Avenue, I could hear the shouts of demonstrators who were re-grouping at the Hilton. I stopped to wet my undershirt in a fountain and ran down the street. My hands were shaking with anticipation and I could no longer close my eyes without seeing helmets and hearing chants. So my body was committed, but my head remained aloof.


The election-high is a bad trip
by Jerry Rubin

March 21, 1968

Many of my friends expected to be in concentration camps by the end of summer. Some expected to be gunned down dramatically in the streets of Chicago in August while yippie-ing at the Death Convention. These visions lead to caution, and one sometimes feels like he is living in Russia in the early part of the century.

There is a knock at the door. It could be the agent with our number up, and it could be a messenger bringing the news that Kennedy and McCarthy are going to fight it out for leadership of the anti-war movement! What a fucked up country—we expected concentration camps and we got Bobby Kennedy.

I am more confident of our ability to survive concentration camps than I am of our ability to survive Bobby. Concentration camps capture our bodies temporarily but set our spirits screaming; Bobby injects a nerve gas into our veins, putting our body and spirit to sleep. The media overwhelm us with the reality of Bobby and Gene, and drug us into identification with THEIR thoughts, arguments, trips, crusades.

Elections in America are a mind-poison.

The energy for a mass, people-movement in which we begin to trust our own ideas and impulses, depend on our own strength, face the dilemma of making our own world . . . that energy is oozed out of us as we become voters, door-to-door vote salesmen, and spectators in the country's greatest theatrical event: the elections.



Gathering at the stonewall inn (June 1969)
photo: Fred W. McDarrah
A Report From the Stonewall Uprising
View from outside: Gay Power Comes t to Sheridan Square
by Lucian Truscott IV

July 3, 1969

Sheridan Square this weekend looked like something from a William Burroughs novel as the sudden specter of "gay power" erected its brazen head and spat out a fairy tale the likes of which the area has never seen.

The forces of faggotry, spurred by a Friday night raid on one of the city's largest, most popular, and longest lived gay bars, the Stonewall Inn, rallied Saturday night in an unprecedented protest against the raid and continued Sunday night to assert presence, possibility, and pride until the early hours of Monday morning. "I'm a faggot and I'm proud of it!" "Gay Power!" "I like boys!"—these and many other slogans were heard all three nights as the show of forces by the city's finery met the force of the city's finest. The result was a kind of liberation, as the gay brigade emerged from the bars, back rooms, and bedrooms of the Village and became street people.



Women of the World Unite (Aug. 1970).
photo: Fred W. McDarrah
Women's liberation: the next great moment in history is theirs
by Vivian Gornick

May 15, 1969

One evening not too long ago, at the home of a well-educated and extremely intelligent couple I know, I mentioned the women's liberation movement and was mildly astonished by the response the subject received. The man said, "Jesus, what is all this crap about?"

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