“Phenomenal. Exciting. Terrifying. Outrageous. Divided. Magical.” These were just a few words used by many to describe the new ABC docuseries, ‘1969.’ It was a year of groundbreaking change in the America. As the previous year’s events with the assassinations of Civil Rights Activist Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, the famous (infamous) Olympic protest and the Vietnam war serving as catalysts, the docuseries captures the stories of a generation behind the most transformative year in U.S. history.
ABC’s ‘1969’ conjoins together rarely told stories of the country’s first moon landing, Manson Murders, Chappaquiddick scandal, Woodstock, The Beatles’ former front man John Lennon’s Bed-Ins for Peace, FBI and local police shootouts with The Black Panthers and the Stonewall uprising. The compelling series features gripping first-hand accounts of how these events came together at the same whirling, chaotic time.
In its premiere episode. “Moon Shot,” they highlight the Apollo 11 moon landing that took place in July 1969. The first men to take these “small steps” were Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins. Though billions of dollars spent on the moon landing was considered controversial, especially among civil lights rights leaders, it not only made America the world leader in technology, it unified the nation and the world. It also includes accounts from the unsung women who helped make it happen such as NASA mathematicians Christine Darden and Katherine Johnson (who was played by Taraji P. Henson in the 2016 Hidden Figures), and software engineer Margaret Hamilton. The following week’s episode, “Manson Girls,” takes into account how two women, Lynette Fromme and Dianne Lake, describe their journeys that led them to join “Manson Family.” The third episode, “The Girl in the Car”, tells the story of Mary Jo Kopechne, who Senator Ted Kennedy drove off a bridge after a party and left to die. Other episodes includes accounts from the Black Panthers and its social impact, the Women’s Liberation movement and organizers of the first Woodstock festival, which almost became the Fyre Festival of 1969. These clenching stories are told by the people who lived them along with contemporary influencers such as The Roots Black Thought, Celebrity LGBTQ activists Jazz Jennings and Laverne Cox.
50 years ago, it was an extraordinary and monumental time. It was also a time of deep division in the country. People were pro and anti-war and divided on the basis of race and sex. We face many of the same issues in this day and age and can even state the movements have ran parallel with The Black Panthers and “Black Lives Matter” movement, along with the Women’s March and “Me Too” movement and even how far you can go with privilege, power and certain last name just to name a few examples. It was a generation of people that reached a tipping point, deciding enough was enough and were willing to fight the system for their natural human rights and their identity. They planted the seeds that grew awareness and cause of action to make a change for human equality, morale and love for fellow man. As the beneficiaries of their movements, all we can do now, more than ever, is to thank that generation for their work and sacrifices. We can also continue to work towards these causes, building a better tomorrow for the next generation and only hope we can truly become the United States within the next 50 years, hopefully less.
By: Jamal Clarke
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