Justice and Injustice in America

The 1960s: The Struggle for Justice Intensifies

What were the real 1960s? Was it the successful struggle for Civil Rights and voting rights? Was it the expansion of Social Security with the establishment of Medicare and Medicaid? Was it nine years of uninterrupted prosperity and economic growth? Or, was it the eruption of riots in all of our major cities? Was it a divisive war that led to terrible domestic disunion? Was it the decade of horrifying political assassinations? Was it sex, drugs and rock "n" roll?

Obviously it was all of these and more. In fact the 1960s is contested terrain, for historians, journalists, artists, and indeed, politicians today. Those who cast it in a negative light emphasize the "anti-Americanism" of some who opposed the War in Indochina and adopted black nationalism, as well as the self-indulgence and self-destructiveness of the youth counterculture. Those who believe the decade represents great achievements in our nation's search for justice emphasize democratic mobilization of large numbers of people to advance the cause of full human rights for African Americans, reduce the level of poverty in the richest country in the world, and, ultimately, turn the country away from a misguided, immoral, and unwinnable war. It also led at the end of the decade to a vibrant and vigorous feminist movement.

This series of lectures will confront these issues head on. We will feature individuals of great artistic and scholarly achievement. Many were also active participants in one or more of the struggles that occurred in that decade.

Lecture Series Dates and Speakers

John Jay is CUNY