Discuss how the Hippie culture could connect to the Civil Rights Movement.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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This might be a challenge because the fundamental desire of the Hippie movement was to disengage with traditional society, while the goal of the Civil Rights Movement was to engage people of color with it.  Herein lies the fundamental challenge of the latter with the former.  Those who struggled for the right to vote, or to possess equal economic and social opportunity, and access to better education could not understand how the Hippie movement so easily dismissed society and social reality.  It had to have stood as a reflection in the mind of many that the Hippie movement could not speak for the Civil Rights Movement because it did not primarily speak to the people who saw the movement as so necessary.  Another level of distance that caused divergence is that the Hippie movement centered on the growing conflict in Vietnam, something that was to coopt the Civil Rights Movement later on in the decade.  In this light, the Hippies understood that the war in Vietnam is going to become the fundamental issue in the latter part of the decade and the Civil Rights Movement was going to be seen through this lens and not in its own right.  However, I do think that some level of connection could be forged between both.  Dr. King's preaching of non- violent resistance and the transformational quality of love is a concept that the Hippies, as a group, did understand and embrace.  The Hippies used many of the same tactics of active resistance predicated upon non- violence.  When King speaks of a larger vision that encompasses all human beings, he articulates a condition that the Hippies embraced.  Finally, the idea of a "Dream," a world that is different from what is and propelled by the desire of what should be, is something that the Hippies actively endorsed and supported.  It is here where there can be some common ground between the hippie movement and the Civil Rights Movement.

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