A hippie (sometimes spelled as hippy) is a label for a person of a certain counterculture that started in the United States and spread to other countries in the 1960s.
Hippies have their own views on drug use, sexual liberation, and women’s rights.
The first people to be called “hippies” were young adults and teenagers in the 1960’s who grew out of the beatnik movement. These people were supporters of civil rights for African-Americans in the Southern USA. They soon developed their own music scene in neighborhoods in New York City (Greenwich Village) and San Francisco (Haight-Ashbury). They were also strongly against the Vietnam War, nuclear weapons, and what they called the “Establishment” (this was a word for the government and other authority). They were also against the “military-industrial complex”. This phrase was taken from a warning in the farewell speech of President Dwight Eisenhower in 1961.
Many more people began to see hippies in the news after the Human Be-In (January 1967) and the 1967 “Summer of Love” were held in San Francisco. By this time, they had developed their own lifestyle that included psychedelic styles, drug use, usually some amount of travel, and much longer hair than other people. These styles quickly spread across the country, especially to college campuses where students were protesting President Lyndon Johnson’s policies in Vietnam, the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968, and other events. They also spread to the UK, Netherlands, France, Italy, Germany, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, among other places.
In 1968 many more Americans turned against the war following the Tet Offensive, King was shot, and politicians began to get ready for the election for President in November. Many colleges were shut down by students, and people burned their draft cards at public rallies. A group of radical hippies called the Yippies, led by Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, led a huge protest during the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago, where they tried to run a pig called Pigasus as a candidate for President. The mayor responded by sending in riot police who beat people up in front of news cameras. The riot police even beat the cameramen, reporters, and other innocent people. This was shown on the news, and many programs and television stations began to feel more sympathetic to the hippies. This made hippie lifestyle much more mainstream through the early seventies.
In 1969, Richard Nixon succeeded Johnson as President, and protests continued — not just against the war, but against the court trials and hearings of the Yippie leaders who became known as “the Chicago Seven” (originally “Chicago Eight”). Also in that year, a huge rock concert was held in Bethel, New York — the three day Woodstock Festival. At this festival, 500,000 hippies and music fans heard some of the most famous singers and groups of the time. The people there also did wild behavior like nudism, nude swimming, mud-sliding, rain-dancing and mass tribal chants. They did this to show their freedom to the world.
Late that year, a murderer named Charles Manson who posed as a hippie killed several people. Because some people blamed hippies for this, the term began to fall a little out of fashion in 1970, even if the fashions themselves did not. A new type of hard rock called heavy metal was developing out of one style of hippie music. A band called Led Zeppelin took the number one spot for most popular band of the year in 1970, which had been held by the Beatles for eight years. Also that year, students at Kent State University in Ohio were protesting Nixon’s spread of bombing to Laos. When the were protesting, the National Guard shot at them, and four were killed. This had a chilling effect on the hippies and the whole country, but the peace movement continued. In 1973, the draft was ended, and the war ended soon after that. US public attention turned to the Watergate scandal. After this, hippies never again had the attention they once did, though the lifestyle continued, especially in other countries. In the mid-seventies, trends like punks and disco were also spreading, causing the hippie image to fade in the media.
Last updated: April 3, 2014 at 11:41 am
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