There are moments in time when a word or thought has such power it changes history; a generation so involved in the moment it becomes unstoppable; a spiritual awakening so profound that its very conception shatters perceptions, halts the world and makes people from all nations take notice.
It began with a simple four-letter word – LOVE! In the 1960s this word became synonymous with a generation and city called San Francisco. It was a concept, a belief deep in the hearts of all who were there (and those who wished they were). It began with Ken Kesey, the Merry Pranksters and their bus “Furthur”, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and the Beat Generation. They gathered in places like North Beach, Haight Ashbury, and in cities like Palo Alto, Berkeley, Seattle, Portland, New York and L.A. These pockets of counter-cultural, anti-establishment individuals questioned authority and their surroundings while searching for the real meaning of life and deeper truths. These small communities of like-minded individuals and their “families” of communal creativity focused on poetry, art, folk music, jazz, and rock ’n roll, demanding to be free of societal restrictions, restraints and hang-ups.
Then one summer it happened! “We Were Everywhere!” The pureness of thought exploded exponentially and there were now millions of us. This event, this historical moment, which included most of 1967, became known as the “SUMMER OF LOVE.”
During this period the Peace Movement was born, with the “Human Be-In” in San Francisco and then the “Love-Ins” in New York. Anti-war demonstrations occurred everywhere and college campuses erupted with thousands of people protesting the draft. The American Indians took Alcatraz, the Black Panthers took Sacramento and the Brown movement demanded social change. Even the Olympic athletes stood up with fist raised to show solidarity with the winds of change. This startled our government, a president was impeached and a war was stopped. An entire generation stood up and shouted “Hell no, we won’t go!”
During this period change was occurring on multiple levels, giving birth to a variety of social movements: the Free Speech Movement, the Free Love Movement, the Women’s Movement, the Gay Rights Movement, the Sexual Revolution, the Spiritual Movement, the Farm Workers Movement, the Environmental Movement, the Ecology Movement, the Animal Rights Movement, the Student Movements, the Civil Rights Movement and the Anti-War Movement.
The message was clear – the world was uniting behind one principle and one thought – LOVE! – and its affirmation of PEACE, COMPASSION and UNDERSTANDING. The word was brought forth by musicians such as Peter Paul & Mary, Donovan, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane and then carried on by many English musicians like Eric Clapton, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.
In the midst of this freethinking environment a renaissance of gifted geniuses emerged with the likes of John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison. New concepts and inventions touched every segment of society: the transistor silicon wafer, the calculator, the personal computer and the internet. The international community was in awe of this explosion of creativity. All this started with a simple word, a simple thought – LOVE! And a generation of freethinking people who were willing to stand up and be counted while proudly proclaiming their willingness to be different.
This period of change is commemorated by celebrating the
“SUMMER OF LOVE”
It stands for:
Truth and individual freedom. Freedom of expression.
Freedom to make a choice – sexually, spiritually and socially.
Our right to be different. Our right to refuse to fight without judging those who did.
Creativity, love and respect for all things. Our right to make a difference.
Our right to think independently. Our willingness to share with others.