We may not wear bell bottoms and tie-dye t-shirts anymore, and let's not talk about what happened to our hair. But even though almost half a century has passed since the 1960s, it's a decade that continues to reverberate in our society, politics, culture, and institutions to this very day. In many ways, America today is a product of the Sixties. From civil rights to feminism to gay liberation to the environmental movement to the silent majority, what started back then has shaped and influenced our country ever since.
Before the Sixties, Americans trusted their government and their leaders; since the Sixties, we question almost everything they do. Before the Sixties, it was Ozzie and Harriet, Father Knows Best, and the sturdy dad with the lunchpail that symbolized our culture; since the Sixties, diversity and individuality define who we are. Whereas we once looked to executives at General Motors and General Electric to chart our economic progress, we now gain inspiration from the late hippie who invented the iPhone. To many, the presidency of Barack Obama symbolized the liberation movements of the Sixties. But it's also important to ask how the Sixties produced the presidency of Donald Trump. To understand America today, we must understand the lessons from the 1960s.
Leonard Steinhorn / American University
Leonard Steinhorn is a professor of communication and affiliate professor of history at American University. He currently serves as a political analyst for CBS News in Washington, D.C. He is the author of "The Greater Generation: In Defense of the Baby Boom Legacy," and co-author of "By the Color of Our Skin: The Illusion of Integration and the Reality of Race," books that have generated widespread discussion and debate. Professor Steinhorn's writings have been featured in several publications, including The Washington Post, Salon, Politico, and Huffington Post. He has twice been named Faculty Member of the Year at AU.