No one thought a man in a snazzy leisure suit would become the psychedelic, soulful voice of protest
1970 was a new era – the zero year launched Unix time, bar codes and the floppy disk as well as multiple voyages to the moon and a little closer to earth, Thor Heyerdahl on his transatlantic voyage in the papyrus boat Ra II. We all slept a little less fitfully knowing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty had been ratified, our IP was being protected and the movement towards eco-awareness had begun with the celebration of the first Earth Day in the U.S.
New York City held its first marathon but its participants were not the only ones taking to the streets: the Women’s Strike for Equality marched down Fifth Avenue and over 210,000 United States Postal Service workers went on strike for over two weeks walking off the job in at least 6 states. In more violently blatant demands for attention, civilians were hurled into the fray with the Front de libération du Québec (FLQ) blowing up mailboxes, taking hostages and sparking the War Measures Act as a response to the October Crisis. The short-lived visions of peace and love that had wafted through the air in the 60s seemed to vanish in a puff of smoke – many countries gained independence, squabbled and made-up, broke treaties and engaged in peace talks in a seemingly endless quest for autonomy whether through self-rule or under the thumbs of benevolent dictators. Terrorism became daily news with the Dawson’s Field airplane hijackings, RAF anarchists run amok in West Germany and the Arms Crisis where government officials colluded in furthering sectarian violence in Ireland.
Radical groups rose up everywhere but ordinary citizens were also tired of government rhetoric. When Nixon ordered U.S. forces into neutral Cambodia, the threat of the Vietnam War spreading into one vast South-east Asian theatre of the absurd sparked nationwide riots. In Ohio the aftermath of an anti-war rally turned ugly, small town officials panicked and called in the National Guard: within 48 hours America was witness to the unmentionable – their own troops had fired upon civilians in the Kent State Shootings.
4 dead in ohio – neil young puts into words a country’s lament
In the long days that followed, in the largest student strike in American history, over 4 million individuals and 450 educational institutions decided to take a stand against the events that had brought them to the edge of the abyss… it would take 5 more years before the war ended.
1970 saw the loss of innocence – bystanders, civilians, young and old, soldiers and statesmen, luminaries from many fields – Bertrand Russell, Mark Rothko, Gypsy Rose Lee, Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix, Pierre Laporte, Abdel Nasser and Charles de Gaulle amongst so many others passed into the hereafter, closing the book on lives ordinary and illustrious…
Read more on: