Social Movements and Organizations of the 1960s, 70s and 80s


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Scholar-Griot: Dawson Barrett

Photo and Copy Editor: Fran Kaplan


The 1960s saw an upsurge in civil rights and other organizations promoting freedom and equality for blacks and women.

The 1970s brought a backlash against those movements by well-funded and well-placed organizations of the Right seeking more freedom for corporations and a return to traditional roles for women.

In the 1980's, hip-hop and punk rock music expressed anger at "The Power" through their lyrics instead of through actions to change laws.


Prominent Civil Rights Movement Organizations:

  • National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP):  Founded in 1909, the NAACP planned protests and lobbied politicians.  Most famously, the group pursued lawsuits that challenged the Jim Crow system.
  • Congress on Racial Equality (CORE):  Founded in 1942, CORE specialized in disruptive protests, such as sit-ins and pickets.  They provided the foundation for much of the activism of the 1960s.
  • Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC):  Founded in 1957 by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Ella Baker, the SCLC coordinated protests and boycotts among religious leaders and their congregations.
  • Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC):  Founded in 1960, SNCC helped organize young activists involved in sit-ins and other disruptive actions.  They became the inspiration for other student groups, like Students for a Democratic Society (SDS).
  • Black Panther Party (BPP):  Founded in 1966, the Black Panther Party fought against police brutality and started a free breakfast program for children.

Other 1960s Era Organizations:

  • Berkeley Free Speech Movement
  • Combahee River Collective
  • National Organization for Women (NOW)
  • The Redstockings
  • Students for a Democratic Society (SDS)
  • Vietnam Veterans Against the War
  • Vietnam Moratorium Committee
  • Women Strike for Peace
  • Yippies


1970s “New Right” Organizations:

  • American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)
  • Business Roundtable
  • Eagle Forum
  • Heritage Foundation
  • Moral Majority

Public Enemy - Fight The Power

1980s Hip-hop / Punk Rock Artists:

  • Dead Kennedys
  • Fugazi
  • Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five
  • KRS-One
  • Public Enemy


Dawson Barrett is a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.  He recently taught a history course on American activism and countercultures in the post-1960s period.

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  1. Linda Meadors on February 19, 2013 at 4:47 PM

    The information provided is definitely a window to the happenings of the turbulent past. I am hopeful that this will be a tool used by school aged children to become aware of history so as to understand it and learn how to develop healthy both mentally and emotionally in the midst of change.

    I am looking forward to the upcoming additions.


  2. Gayle Zawilla on February 28, 2013 at 8:59 AM

    Can you please tell me who who holds the rights to the photo of the Anti-Vietnam War protesters faced National Guard guns with flowers that appears on your web page I would like to consider using it in a college textbook. Thanks, Gayle Zawilla, Editor

    • dr_fran on February 28, 2013 at 3:20 PM

      Gayle, I’ll reply to you directly by email.

  3. leslie on January 29, 2014 at 8:13 PM

    I am trying to track a travelling evangelic movement that started in the 60’s and ended in the late 70’s or 80’s
    with the wife who’s name was tammy or similar

  4. Ivory Carlton Jones on November 18, 2021 at 6:48 AM

    Keep up the good work. Its so sad. It seems that the attacks on everything we worked so hard for are starting again. Or it could be tools like cell phones, internet and social media are just showing us that it never ended. Nor matter what, our fight for our future and the future of our children must continue as long as we desire to make America our home. Be encouraged kings and queens

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