The Baby Boom Generation in College and Reforms essay

TheBaby Boom Generation in College and Reforms


TheBaby Boom Generation in College and Reforms

Weowe the current freedom and equality we enjoy today to theaccomplishments of the student movements of the 60`s. The studentmovements of that time, to some extent, were very important inbringing the Jim Crow Racial segregation to an end. These movementsalso had a hindering influence on the ability of America to blatantlypursue an imperialistic foreign policy that had led to the Vietnam.Through the students’ movements, the Women`s Liberation movementwas ushered in. The student protest movements led to profound changesin the American society. This is how the Berkeley in the 1960’s hasbeen interpreted. The current paper provides evidence from the 1960`sto support this interpretation of Berkeley in the 1960`s. It isaccurate and proper to state that the movements and protests of thestudents in the 1960`s were fundamental in causing a change in theAmerican society. The Free Speech Movement (FSM) of the University ofCalifornia, located in Berkeley, arranged a protest of many thousandsof students. This was held on 20thNovember 1965, outside a meeting of the Regents of the University ofCalifornia. The meeting of the Regents was for discussing how the FSMcould be dealt with. This movement had developed from the studentswho had been involved in the Civil Rights movement. FreeSpeech Movement was founded by the students who had been involved inthe Congress on Racial Equality (CORE), and the Southern Civil Rightsmovement. There are some Berkeley students who had gone to work withCORE in the summer of 1964 only to return in September 1964. Afterthe arrest of Jack Weinberg in October 1st,many students surrounded the police car in which Jack was beingcarried away. After 32 hours, he was released after President ClarkKerr of the University of California had worked out a compromise.This was when the FSM was formed. The students formed FSM to fightfor the right to free speech (O`Brien, 2002). They also foughtagainst the Jim Crow segregation policies. On September 30th,1964, the students organized a 10-hour sit-in in Sproul Hall,imitating the A&ampT Four A&ampT University in Greensboro. Thesit-in movements were effective in ushering in the Civil Rights Act.They also sparked and initiated the Women’s LiberationMovement. Over many proceeding months, the movement battled withthe school administration by use of marches, petitions, and arrests.Come December 1964 the students had already achieved their goal.They opened up a political activity at the University of California,Berkeley campus. The Baby Boom generation are the individuals whowere born in the period of 1946-1964 (Russell, 2012). This was aperiod after the World War II when there was a massive increase inbirths. In the 1960s, most of the boomers who had been born between1946 and 1951 had become teenagers. These individuals wereinfluential in accelerating social change. It is the Baby Boomgeneration that was in college who protested against the segregationagainst blacks (The master trend, 1994). Ezell Blair,Franklin McCain, Joseph McNeil and David Richmond, the A&ampT Four,were all members of the Baby Boom generation. They are the ones whostarted up the sit-in famous movements in 1stFebruary 1960. They were all freshmen at the A&ampT University inGreensboro, North Carolina. As a result of the sit-in protests, thecivil rights Bill was passed massively by the Congress. The NationalPublic Accommodations Act was also formulated as a result of theprotests. It was of the bravery, courage and unrelenting spirit ofthe four that powered the protests that ended up being the model andthe inspiration for the civil rights, anti-war and women`s liberationmovements that followed (Franz &amp McClelland, 1994). FreeSpeech Movement was inspired by the CORE, which was also inspired bythe A&ampT Four protests. In turn, the FSM was a symbol of studentactivism. It also influenced the Civil Rights movement on theCalifornia students (Cohen &amp Zelnik, 2003). CORE was a NationalCivil Rights Organization that was dedicated to bringing an end toracial discrimination and segregation. The success of the studentsto achieve free speech and political activity in the universitygreatly influenced the Civil Rights movements outside the South. Theactivism of the students also prepared the way for subsequentCalifornia students who would concentrate on the Vietnam War andpromote political power for the people of color (Schrecker,2003). When California’s attention was drawn to the Vietnam Warin 1965, the students held the Vietnam War demonstrations. However,the nature of protests had changed. Instead of the non-violentprotests that were held before, the students were more violent intheir protests and the police were increasingly used I controllingriots. Students sought riots for the fun of it, and it drewnon-students from outside the University of California. The campusbuildings got firebombed over the ROTC crisis (Thomas, 2008). Lateron, Free Huey movement was held so that Huey P. Newton who had beenarrested for shooting a police officer, could be released (Cohen &ampZelnik, 2003). Police confrontations were more rampant, includingthe 1969 march with the National Guard troops (Schrecker,2003). In the 1960s, the teenagers were massively breaking awayfrom the popular culture in terms of their behaviors and appearance.They developed new lifestyles including drug experimentations and newforms of music. Among the black girls, the Afro hairstyle became thetrend. Many of the teenagers became political activists while othersjust dropped off from the usual way of life. Women started to protestopenly against the traditional roles of mother and housewife that hadbeen assigned to them by the society. The Hippies were a group orwhites, like the New Left, but they had not political drive. They hada distinctive dressing style including jeans, sandals, tie-dyedshirts, beards, and long hair. Their lifestyle embraced sexualpromiscuity and recreational use of drugs like the hallucinogenic LSDand marijuana. Such groups produced rock music that reflected the sexand the drug culture. These counter-cultural behaviors have given abad branding.


BabyBoomer generation was greatly influential in causing social andpolitical change. Their protests against segregation and racialdiscrimination were persistent and caused multiple changes in thesociety. The Civil Rights Act was passed in 1960 as a result of theprotests of the A&ampT Four. The students from the University ofCalifornia, who formed the Free Speech Movement, endured arrests andcitations to achieve the right to free speech for the studentactivists. Despite the violence that later on characterized studentprotests and demonstrations, and the counterculture thatcharacterized the lifestyles of the teenagers of the 1960s, themovements inspired other movements like the women’s liberationmovements.


Cohen,R. and Zelnik, R. (2003). The Free Speech Movement: Reflections onBerkeley in the 1960s. Academe,89(5), p.98.

O`Brien,J. (2002). Free Speech Movement Archives. TheJournal of American History,89(2), p.738.

Schrecker,E. (2003). The Free Speech Movement: Reflections on Berkeley in the1960s. PacificHistorical Review,72(4), pp.669-670.

Thomas,N. (2008). Protests Against the Vietnam War in 1960s Britain: TheRelationship between Protesters and the Press. ContemporaryBritish History,22(3), pp.335-354.