Protest Music In The 1960s

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The 1960s in the United States of America was mobilised by an intense musical rebellion created and spread by artists and citizens across the country. The music became a powerful means of protesting the controversial political decisions and actions of the leaders of the time. Amongst other social issues, the protest movements of the 1960s were primarily protests against the Vietnam War which lasted from 1945 to 1975 and impacted on the five American presidencies of Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon and Ford.
These varied and multi-cultural groups had one element in common. They used music to showcase their unrest and unhappiness with their lives and thereby change their
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However, the 1960s was also characterised by a fundamental change in other aspects of American society, such as civil rights and women’s rights. ‘Americans protested to demand an end to the unfair treatment of black citizens… and to demand full equality for women,’ (9) shows that besides the peace and anti-war movements, lots of focus was given to bettering the lives of African Americans and women. African American citizens were actively protesting the “separate but equal” lives they lived in America. Their entire lives were separate from those of white Americans. They had segregated schooling, transport and toilets under the Jim Crow laws. This is justified by, ‘the popularity of protest music in the 1960s was also fuelled by the massive social change that evolved from the Civil Rights Movement, the rise of feminism,’ (4) showing that many artists were also fighting for an ideological change in the way American citizens were treated by their country, namely African Americans and women, rather than only fighting against what they believed was an unjust war. Artists like James Brown (5) fought for black empowerment in American society. Brown’s song, ‘Say it Loud: I’m Black and I’m Proud’ (5) is described as being ‘an important document in the development of the Civil Rights Movement’ (5) due to its infectious rhythm and strong message about black pride and self-empowerment. Another example of a black artist is Aretha Franklin, who wrote songs about women rising up and demanding ‘respect’ (5) in the country in which she lived, both as an African American and a woman, as shown by her song title. This song became ‘an important catalyst for the development of the feminist protest movement,’ (5). This highlights that the 1960s was a time filled with the desire to create social change through music. The musical revolution
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