Just finished watching The Sixties “The Times They Are A-Changing” episode. Anyone with Netflix should take some time to watch this series. It’s an amazing history lesson, but the similarities between activities going on then – civil rights marches, women’s rights marches and movements, LGBT movements, Latino movements, environmental protection and climate change discussion – and now are powerful to reflect on.
Rachel Maddow touched upon the similarities of “then vs. now” politically when she discussed Barry Goldwater running for President on a platform that pushed for a more conservative agenda for Republicans, one that said there was a need for less government involvement in society. Goldwater’s famous (or infamous) quote says “I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.” This lead to extremist groups like the KKK endorsing Goldwater’s presidential bid, which in turn forced him to voice his disapproval of the group and rejection of their endorsement. (If this sounds like things we witnessed in 2016, congratulations, you’ve been paying attention).
Beyond the political similarities (like Nixon calling for a stronger “rule of law” during the turbulent year of 1968 – another great episode in the series The Sixties), the social activism during that period is something I had studied as part of my history lessons but I had not realized how many social movements were happening during that time. The women’s liberation movement discussed in “The Times They Are A-Changing” was fascinating to me. There they are in the ’60s discussing equal pay, the right for women to take charge of their reproductive health via family planning and birth control, and the long list of things women were not allowed to do before the movement (such as go to an Ivy League school, get a credit card or a bank account in her own name, or even serve on a jury). While we’ve overcome some of these hurdles, it’s astonishing we’re still arguing over reproductive rights and access as well as equal pay for equal work in 2016!
These are just some of my take-aways from watching this show. It’s worth viewing, both to remind ourselves that the United States has faced some of these present-day challenges before and also to remind us that some of these struggles have been going on for FAR too long.
We’ve come a long way since those days and yet clearly, as exemplified by recent days, have so much further to go.