The Folk Revival

The folk revival of the 1960s is often the starting point of attraction with the style for many contemporary folk fans.

There were a lot of things combined to influence the folk music revival of the 1960s, but there are three major influences. One; during the early 20th Century, folklorists headed out across the country in hopes of documenting the musical styles traditional to various communities. Two; the release of the “Anthology of American Folk Music” featured artists ranging in banjo playing and folk-blues recordings. It exposed this style of music that was native to be heard around the country. Three; the work of Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger and “Almanac Singers “in the 1940’s and 50’s helped create groups that spun off an influence of interesting songwriting during the hard times of the 1960’s.

A result of the folk revival was the proliferation of bluegrass music and the popularization of old timers’ music. In a lot of ways, there were two schools during the folk revival: the singer/songwriters, who wrote their own words to traditional melodies and in some cases, began writing entirely new melodies; and the old timers, who simply stuck to traditional songs and styles. Many traditionalists believe that writing their own material diluted the very definition of folk music, while revivalists look at it as just another turn in the evolution of the genre.

For many people when they hear the words “folk music,” the first two people that come to mind are Bob Dylan and Joan Baez. They were the biggest stars of the 1960s folk craze. When 19-year-old Bob Dylan arrived in Greenwich Village in January 1961, Joan Baez had long been crowned the “Queen of Folk,” but within two short years, Dylan would ascend the throne as King of this musical monarchy, with the two wowing audiences from coast to coast with their live duets. Both Dylan and Baez did their fair share in the Civil Rights Movement; they both participated on the March to Washington where they both preformed for Jobs and Freedom in 1963. Many of Bob Dylan’s songs are anthems to the Civil Rights Movement. For example, the song “Only a Pawn in their Game” is about the assassination of the Civil Rights leader Medgar Evers.  Baez not only sang at the March on Washington but worked closely throughout the early 1960s with her good friend Martin Luther King Jr. marched arm in arm with him in Selma and other cities, sang at rallies in churches throughout the South to support civil rights activists,

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Surf Rock

Surf rock was a short lived music phenomenon associated with surf culture found in Southern California and largely apart of Orange County. It was often confined to an isolated region, but had worldwide appeal Surf rock celebrated not just catching the perfect wave, but such carefree adolescent phenomena as the sun, beach, parties, girls and hot rods. This is not to state that all surf music came from the area of the US; on the contrary, there were some very popular groups who adopted the sound as their own from various locations in the US and the world. The musical genre was an extension of rockabilly and 1950s rhythm and blues compositions. It has two major forms: one is instrumental surf rock with an electric guitar or saxophone playing the melody, and the other is vocal surf pop with strong vocal harmonies, including ballads and wild dance music.

Surf rock most popular surf music was recorded between 1961 and 1965 soon making it to mainstream media in the mid 1960’s. Bands that hit the mainstream national audience were Dick Dale, The Chantays, the Beach Boys, Jan and Dean, Ronny and the Datonas and the Ventures. The group that is most popular within the genre is the Beach Boys. The Beach Boys introduced mass market pop vocals to surf music. They were the ultimate surf band for many listeners, simply because they put the appeal of the beach and surfing into words instead of conveying it with loose music. The beach boys first 3 albums have the word “Surfin” or “Surfer”. However, it is Southern California guitarist Dick Dale who is often acknowledged as the ‘Father of Surf Music.’ In the late 1950s, he developed the genre defining ‘reverb sound’ which enabled music lovers to hear the melody lines played on the low end of the strings of a Fender Stratocaster guitar which in turn gave it a wet, dripping-like sound; which was supposed to capture the feel of actually riding the waves.

Once the British invasion hit the American shores, surf music disappeared from the major charts, but has remained popular in local clubs and venues in some regions. Surf music has influenced many artists.

Now a days surf bands are often seen performing in conjunction with classic car shows, and the genre still gets a fair amount of airplay on Oldies and some Classic Rock radio stations. From the early foundations of surf music either surf rock or instrumental, the impact can still be heard in today’s rock and roll music.

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The Woodstock Festival was a three-day concert that involved lots of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll – plus a lot of mud. Other names for the festival are Woodstock Music Festival, an Aquarian Exposition, and, Three Days of Peace and Music. Michael Lang, John Roberts, Joel Roseman and, Artie Kornfeld were the organizers of this event which was held through August 15-18, 1969. It was held at Max Yasgur’s 600 acre farm in Catskills after its late venue change from Mills Industrial Park in Wallkill, New York only a month away from the date. The change was due to the townspeople did not want a bunch drugged out hippies in their town. Only anticipating around 50,000 people would attend the festival, the facility could not handle the 500,000 people who actually showed up. With this huge event there were only reported 3 causalities. Two of which were from overdoses and the one was ran over by a tractor while he was in the fields. There were also 3 births during the festival. Over 20 artists preformed over the three day period, including the Incredible String Band and Jimi Hendricks.
As disaster strikes
As so many people drove to the festival on Wednesday, August 13 (2 days before the festival) many of the security gates had not been set up around the farm 50,000 were camped out in front of the stage, and people saw the concert for free. As soon as this news got out thousands of people rushed to the site to see a free concert. What began as a paid event drew so many viewers from across the world that the fences were torn down and it became a free concert open to the public. Highways became huge parking lots, as spectators left their cars and walked the rest of the way to the festival. With the huge amount of numbers the organizers soon hired helicopters to shuttle performers from their motels to the stage. With huge amount of people who came there were not enough resources waiting in line for water was about a 30 minute wait, and at least an hour long wait to use a toilet. Another huge dilemma was the rain, people become covered in mud and there was nowhere to escape the rain. Even throughout the bad times the Woodstock Music Festival of 1969 has become an icon of the 1960s hippie counterculture. The Woodstock Festival became the most popular music event in history.

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March on Washington/Martin Luther King Jr. “I have a dream”

200,000 people came to protest peacefully for Civil Rights, in Washington D.C.

March on Washington/Martin Luther King Jr.

On August 5th, 1963, a huge event took place dealing with the Civil Rights movement. In Washington D.C. 200,000 assembled to peacefully protest, both blacks and whites, for equal rights of all citizens, no matter the color. The Civil Rights Act was in congress, the act was programmed to make segregation illegal no matter what gender or race. Part of the March’s agenda was to get the word of Civil Rights across so Congress would approve the act, instead of leave it sit in Congress for a while. The March was organized by many Civil Rights groups and activists, and religious groups as well that believed everyone should be treated equally.

The March on Washington was extremely successful, one of the main speakers at the event was Martin Luther King Jr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a African American advocate of rights for all people. King Jr. promoted protest through peace, and did not believe violence would solve any matter in the fight for equality. Martin Luther King presented a famous speech called “I have a dream” during the March on Washington. The speech consisted of King Jr. speaking of “having a dream” that whites and blacks children could hold hands together, play together, and mainly coexist with each other happily. The same went for “having a dream” that businesses and schools would be desegregated. Martin Luther King Jr.’s iconic speech touched the whole nation, many felt that desegregation could actually happen and blacks and whites can live happily together. The speech was the highlight of the March on Washington.

Although Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech was the main event of the March on Washington, there were other speakers in D.C. at the same time as well including Josephine Barker, an African American woman who was the first African American female to be in a major picture film. Also, singer Bob Dylan performed.

The March on Washington was on live media coverage so the nation could see the non-violent protest first hand. Americans could see the struggles the African Americans have to face day by day just by watching their television. Many Americans were moved by their struggles, while others still felt as though African Americans could never have the same rights as whites, and these people caused agony to the African Americans for more years to come. The March was important because it showed how many people were willing to fight for Civil Rights, black or white, and it provided hope for the future, for if all these people could rally for equality why couldn’t they change a law? Equality felt so near to the African Americans, and it was closer than ever before.

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Greensboro Sit-in

Greensboro Sit-in

The four African American men started a national movement with their peaceful protest at an event known as the Greensboro Sit-in

Greensboro Sit-in

On February 1, 1960, a group of four black college freshmen attending North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State were tired of segregation that they faced, and decided to peacefully protest by sitting at an all white service counter at Woolworth’s store in Greensboro, North Carolina.

The four men were fascinated by the works of Mohandas Gandhi who advocated the effects of peaceful protest. The four men decided that a sit-in would be a great way to get their message on equality across. One of the men in the group had previously gone to a concert, where an African American had acted aggressively and in turn, got arrested and did not help the cause for Civil Rights at all. So, the four of them decided that they could not by any means retaliate in violence.

The plan for the four of them was simple; they would make sure to stop at a newspaper journalist’s before entering the Woolworth store. The journalist would come to make sure they could get their point across to the public eye. The four men would buy supplies at the store and make sure that they kept the receipt for evidence, and then, they would sit at the all-white counter politely asking to order.

The four African American’s carried out their plan, but were refused service and were asked to leave the store. They left, but word spread around quickly of their protest, and more protest came to follow. Students of the North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State School came to the counters to protest the following day, and even women at a nearby college joined the protest as well. On the 5th of February, 1960, as many as 1,400 people came to the Woolworth store to protest peacefully. They met opposition, as white males came to harass the protesters by throwing eggs, yelling profanities, and spitting into the protesters face.

The Greensboro Sit-in sparked other sit-ins to occur in North Carolina and other states as well. By the end of the month, many stores either desegregated their white only counters or removed the counters all together to elude the protests. The four African American men started a trend by being brave in protesting, they were successful in their attempts and sparked a national movement. Many saw if these four men could get results on desegregation, why couldn’t they get full rights as the white man?

The sit-ins showed how an idea can spark a whole nation into the idea of Civil Rights, whether they believed it was right or wrong, the Civil Rights movement was happening, and excited or scared, the African Americans were determined to obtain their rights.


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Murray, J. (n.d.). Greensboro sit-in. Retrieved from

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Malcolm X



ImageMalcolm X civil rights activist, speaks.

Malcolm X

                Malcolm X was a civil rights activist in the 60’s; he championed the idea of black rights, and believed in getting their rights anyway possible, which included violence if need be. Malcolm had a rough childhood, his own father, a civil rights activist himself, was killed by a white supremacist group when Malcolm was only six years of age. Police had ruled his death as an accident, but Malcolm’s family thought otherwise. Malcolm’s mother Louise went crazy after her husband’s death and was assigned to a mental institution. Malcolm and his 7 brothers and sisters were put into separate foster families.

                Malcolm was very intelligent in school, so much so that he was at the top of his class in junior high. He dreamed of becoming a lawyer, but was told by a teacher that since he was black, he had no future as a lawyer. Outraged, Malcolm dropped out of school and moved to New York. Malcolm got involved with drugs, prostitution, stealing, and gambling. Eventually, Malcolm got in trouble with the law, and got sentenced for 10 years in prison due to burglary.

                Malcolm spent these 10 years in prison painstakingly reading every single word in the dictionary, and self-educating himself, for he had nothing else to do. Malcolm saw he needed to change his ways. He was told about the religion of Islam in prison when his brother visited him, and he read about Islam as well. Malcolm was hooked, and believed that Elijah Muhammad, the teacher of Islam was right in every way. Muhammad taught African Americans and other Islamic people should have their own state where no whites can live, and that whites were holding back African American empowerment, and hindered the African American success on purpose.

                As Malcolm X exited jail, he advocated the Nation of Islam to all; he was a natural leader and increased the group total from 300 to 30,000. Malcolm X was now seen as a public leader to all people, but that increased his death threats and safety as well from white supremacist groups, just as his father had dealt with before his death.

                Malcolm soon came to the realization that Elijah Muhammad was not the person he claimed to be, Muhammad advocated no sex before marriage while he had relations with 6 women and had children with a few of them as well. Outraged, Malcolm quit the Nation of Islam group and made his own religion named the Muslim Mosque Inc. The Nation of Islam was very upset with Malcolm leaving and was actually marked for assassination.

                Malcolm took a trip to Mecca in Saudi Arabia. The trip opened his eyes to new possibilities, for white men were kind to him and were acting as brothers. After this trip, Malcolm believed that maybe whites and blacks could get along after all; they did not need to be separate.

                Malcolm came back to the United States, and on February 27, 1965, he was shot and killed by three men who were identified as members of the Nation of Islam. Malcolm X’s teachings left a legacy of hope for the African American community, as he taught many about the rights of African Americans should have, and put out the word that they needed those rights in order to live a fulfilled happy life.



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The Black Panther Party

The symbol of the Black Panther Party

The Black Panther Party
The Black Panther Party was an all black social reform group that aimed to incorporate equality for all. The Black Panthers were armed with weapons and taught in militant self-defense when their communities were attacked, or other members of the Black Panther Party were harmed. The Black Panther Party was founded by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale on October 15th 1966. The Black Panthers main focus was to protect minorities against the police force, whom more often than not, attacked the minorities for no reason at all.
As time went on, the Black Panther Party’s ideas and agendas had changed as well and the Ten Point Program was established. The Ten Point Program is a set of demands that the Black Panthers believed should be met in order for them to live a happy equal life to the whites. The Ten Point Program had demands such as, full employment of the black community, housing fit for human living, and freedom for all minorities. Knowing the Ten Points was part of the initiation of being in the Black Panther Party, they could not be in the party unless they knew the Ten Points by heart. The full list can be seen here:
To be enlisted into the Black Panther Party, one would have to follow a set of rules. The rules were put into place so the Black Panthers could be in good health while working, and are in the right state of mind, plus they had a moral code of ethics as well. For example, the Black Panthers could not be drunk while doing party work, they could not be involved with any sort of drugs that could harm their health and the health of the party, and the Black Panthers could not steel from anyone or commit crimes upon people in the Party or the black community. Other important aspects of the rules include learning how to use weapons, and filling out work daily saying what work you completed on that day. The Black Panther Party rules also included 8 Points of Attention which listed how the Black Panthers should act, including returning anything they borrow, not hitting or swearing at people, and speaking fairly to all. The last part of the rules that the Black Panthers had to follow were 3 Main Rules of Discipline: Obey orders in all your actions, do not take a single needle or piece of thread from the poor and oppressed masses and turn in everything captured from the attacking enemy. The full set of rules can be seen here:

Baggins, B. (n.d.). Marxist history: Usa . Retrieved from (2011, october 12). Retrieved from
(n.d.). Retrieved from

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