“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times (Dickens).” There was a variety of time periods that fit this description, however paradoxical it may seem. The French Revolution, for instance, was a time full of new opportunities for the Third Estate and bourgeoisie, while the upperclassmen were faced with a time of massacre and hatred from the very people which they ruled over. Likewise, America—still quite young, even in the 1960s—was faced with the choice to give better rights to those who asked for them or to plunge into another, though much less bloody, civil war.
This war was fought not on battlefields with guys but on campuses with picket signs. Both nations were faced with a population wanting better odds for themselves. Although each nation dealt with these situations differently, the French Revolution and American 1960s were times when people were presented with both new rights and bloodshed.
When looking at the United States of America in the early 1960s, one might see a country still holding onto the past decade. The year 1960 was merely an extension of the ’50s. Not many people could comprehend what would happen in the decade to come, but a few situations foreshadowed things to come (Kane). The American ‘60s were some of the most turbulent days in the country’s history. Most citizens were worried about the revolution of communism, especially with the threat of this system closing in all around them.
Cuba was a close neighbor, and with the uprising of the dictator of Fidel Castro, Americans began to see the threat moving much closer than desired. This fear of communism led the Americans to start the Space Race between themselves and Russia. They were determined to advance further than the Soviets in order to prove that capitalism was a force to be reckoned with—not just for Russia but for the communist society as a whole (Kane).
In the midst of this fear, however, there were many opportunities being made available to all, especially African-Americans and women of all races. The sixties were a time of great change and opportunity for everyone. These things did not come easily to these racial groups, but when they finally received their equality, they knew it had not come easily and they were given a greater sense of accomplishment and gratitude. More jobs opportunities arose—more predominately white male career fields were opened to women and African-Americans. The American population as a whole was beginning to see each other as equal, and with this equality, the nation began taking bigger steps toward discovering new things for the good of the human population as a whole.
With this arrival of equality, people began to branch out and want to see just how much they could discover if they were working together. Perhaps it was the idea of conquering that drove them, but the great Space Race started in 1961, when President Kennedy challenged the nation to land a man on the moon. The sixties were a time of curiosity, a time of seeing something and wondering what made it go and how Americans could use this new something to their advantage.
Although there were many wonderful opportunities and “ups” in the 1960s, there were many “downs” as well, not quite outweighing them but perhaps holding the same influence over the time period. The fight between capitalism and communism, along with the constant idea that communism would be shortly knocking upon the doors of the American continents, was one of the most apparent influences on the lives of the people living in the 1960s.