I’m wondering…is it time for a revolution?
I’ve been thinking about this since last week when we went to see the musical, “Motown”. As much as I enjoyed the music and account of Berry Gordy’s history in the music industry, it was the underlying story that really had me thinking. As a backdrop to the story (and a way to connect one timeline to the next), there was a newsreel running on the screen behind. I was reminded of the unrest in the 1960s…the civil rights movement, the women’s liberation movement and the anti-war protests. As a teenager in the 60s, ALL of these issues had a profound effect on me.
Growing up in a 1950s middle-income suburb (mostly all white), my childhood was typical of the times. It was uncomplicated…a stay at home mom, three siblings, a neighbourhood school, and friends just down the block. I was the oldest in my family and independent. Babysitting, and part-time jobs in retail as soon as I was old enough to be hired afforded me the option to take care of my own expenses. I always loved clothes and fashion and had that youthful wanderlust urge to travel. I was on a mission to see the world but totally unaware of how naive I was.
The Women’s Liberation movement was a real eyeopener for me…that women could and should have the same opportunities as men! Reproductive rights, equal pay, maternity leave, a spotlight that shone brightly on sexual harassment and sexual and domestic abuse were at the core of the feminist issues. Gloria Steinem became the face of this movement. She was young and attractive…not what was considered the stereotype of the feminist movement. In spite of not quite closing the gender gap, she moved mountains for women. Do young women today take for granted the rights they now have because of the feminist crusade…like I took for granted my right to vote because of the courage suffragettes had (in the early 1900s) to fight for that privilege?
Although I was not personally affected by the civil rights movement, I was painfully aware of the inequality of others. One brave woman, Rosa Parks, who refused to give up her seat on the bus to a white man (in 1955) sparked the Montgomery, Alabama bus boycott. This protest, (African Americans refusal to ride the bus), was led by Martin Luther King Jr. The boycott lasted 381 days causing serious hardship on the local economy ending with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that is was unlawful to segregate city buses. This was at the beginning of the civil rights movement that continued throughout the 1960s. It was often violent, with many people arrested, beaten, and killed. Who can forget Martin Luther King Jr.’s, speech, “I Had a Dream”, delivered during the March on Washington on August 28, 1963? Thankfully the bravery of many brought change to civil rights, however, today prejudice and disparity still exist.
The end of the 60s and early 70s brought anti-Vietnam war protests originating on U.S. college campuses before spreading nationwide. The peace-loving, drug-experimenting, “hippie generation” (my age group) fueled this movement that over time also became violent. I befriended an American woman I met at work who fled to Canada with her draft dodger boyfriend. It gave me an opportunity to see this strife through their eyes.
I realize that there have been issues, protests, and marches in recent years but I think we are on the verge of something different. Is there a new energy in the air? Over the last couple of months, social media has spread the word of the #MeToo movement that is impacting every sector of North American society. History shows that it is the youth of a society that effect change with a grassroots movement starting from the ground up. And now in the wake of ANOTHER tragic school shooting in Florida, students are hitting the streets protesting gun violence and legislation. I applaud these young people for their courage to stand up and say, “We are not going to take this anymore”. This impacts all of us who have children and grandchildren. There are cynics out there who say their voices will not change anything. That may be true, but with the determination to make sure the deaths of their slain friends, classmates, and teachers are not all in vain, they just may be heard. The efforts of these motivated adolescents may (maybe, just maybe) make it possible for children to once again blissfully skip along to school with no worries other than if their homework is done or if they had studied enough for an exam!
What are your thoughts? Have you been humming along to “Revolution” these past days?