Extra Credit

During the 1960s and 1970s, new behaviors emerged from a once very conservative and restricted time period. This new way of acting shocked many Americans and quite understandingly created tensions and fashioned rifts in society. There was what is now known as a “generation gap”. This basically meant the younger generation had started to move away from the older generation. Howard Zinn directly relates this rift to the way in which people now thought it was perfectly appropriate to be gay. Being people thought initially that this practice only occurred within the younger generation, many were proved wrong as middle aged people and also old people were changing their was that astounded others. At the same time however, many young people remained straight.

I believe Howard Zinn chose to bring up the topic of gay people, as society in that period now felt open to the whole idea of it all. Individuals openly spoke about affairs, which before would not have been possible without severe circumstances. People now also felt the need to no longer conceal homosexuality and many went as far to combat discrimination. A sense of community was in search. Times were changing and society changed to a society that we experience today and are very much aware of.

Furthermore. I believe the title of this chapter was called Surprises as even the media began to reflect this content spreading awareness and the idea that this sort of behavior is now ok. “Court decisions overruled the local banning of books that were erotic or even pornographic” this resulted in this content being common in literature and even in normal every day conversation.

Another group of people that definitely changed during the 1960s and 1970s were women. Women were primarily viewed as being housewives, however, women now had more freedoms, which enabled them to vote and work openly. However, once men felt that that women had done enough whilst they were away, they were in a sense “put back into their place” which understandably led to Women’s struggle over change.

“World War II had brought more women than ever before out of the home into work. By 1960, 36 percent of all women sixteen and older- 23 million women-worked for paid wages. But although 43 percent of women with school-age children worked, there were nursery schools for only 2 percent- the rest had to work things out themselves. Women were 50 percent of the voters-but (even by 1967) they held 4 percent of the state legislative seats, and 2 percent of the judgeships”

 This showed the impact and freedoms they had during the war, however it now shows the reality for women once things were back in order. Alice Rossi, feminist and sociologist states:

“There is no overt anti-feminism in our society in 1964, not because sex equality has been achieved, but because there is practically no feminist spark left among American women.”

The surprise is not necessarily that women were treated unequally after they had been granted with freedoms, but that established women from this point on now had an effective voice in the midst of American Society


The Feminist Movement is a series of campaigns on issues such as reproductive rights (including abortion), domestic violence, maternity leave, equal pay, sexual harassment, and sexual violence.

The history of feminist movements has been divided into three “waves”. Each is described as dealing with different aspects of the same feminist issues. Feminism reached the popular consciousness in the sixtieth with the passage of the Civil Rights Act prohibiting employment discrimination, and a lot of media exposure. Some primary issues of this time were equal pay, equal education access, freedom from sexual harassment, and the right to safe, legal abortions.

Shirley Chisholm is a black congresswoman, who took an active part in processing Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) liked many women did. But she realized even where the law was helpful it is helpful only if people put it into an action. She said “the law cannot do it for us. We must do it for ourselves. Women in this country must become revolutionaries. We must refuse to accept the old, the traditional roles and stereotypes… We must replace the old, negative thoughts about our femininity with positive thoughts and positive action…”In Zinn’s opinion that “this meant the rethinking of roles, the rejection of inferiority, the confidence in self, a bond of sisterhood, a new solidarity of mother and daughter.” Zinn disclose that feminist is the main propellant of this movement instead of law. Once we put the law into action, the law becomes meaningful and useful. Moreover, it also shows that this movement is a movement to wake up the self-awareness of women. More and more women realized that they are not an accessory of men, and family isn’t a prison to restrict their right of freedom. Instead of hating men, most feminists believe equality between the sexes will benefit men by unshackling them from traditional expectations. This movement is not only a movement for the social, political, and economic equality of men and women, but a “consciousness raising” of women to the entire society as a whole.

There is another movement incurred by prisoners, which made prisoners no more put out of sight and behind bars. A man in Walpole prison Massachusetts wrote: “every program that we get is used as a weapon against us. The right to go to school, to go to church, to have visitors, to write, to go to the movie. They all end up being weapon of punishment. None of the programs are ours, everything is treated as a privilege that can be taken away from us. The result is insecurity-a frustration that keeps eating away at you.” Zinn include this case in the book because he wants to show the reality of prison falters. At that time the prison was based on hard labor, prisoners were not only suffered with various punishments but lack of basic human right. Such as their letter would be read or tear up by guards, and all visits were not permitted. Moreover, Zinn in his book indicates that “the prison in the United States had long been an extreme reflection of the American system itself: the stark life differences between rich and poor, the racism , the use of victims against one another, the lack of recourses of the underclass to speak out, the endless ‘reforms’ that changed little.” The poorer you were the more likely you were to end up in jail because the law was always on the rich’s side. In result, the jails end up full of poor black people. The movement of prison is not only a movement for the human right of prisoner, but it is movement for people to re-examine the law system and hear the voice from people in the lowest level of society.

So far, never in American history had more movements for change been concentrated in so short a span of years. That is why Zinn called this time of period as a SURPPRISES.


The 1960’s-70 ‘s was an era of revelation for many Americans. It was also an era of many radical movements started by formally oppressed groups of people. Amongst these groups were women; whom were regarded more so as objects, than knowledgeable human beings. At this time, women in politics was an unheard of occurrence, but much to societies surprise, this would soon change. It only took a few braves souls to spark a revolutionary movement. Amongst these was a black congress woman by the name of Shirley Chishlom.

The law cannot do it for us. We must do it for ourselves. Women in this country must become revolutionaries. We must refuse to accept the old, the traditional roles and stereotype…we must replace the old, negative thoughts about our femininity with positive thoughts and positive actions.

Shirley Chishlom knew that equality wouldn’t come easy, but the role of women in society wouldn’t evolve overnight. World War II granted women with many new job opportunities. These former trophy/housewives were now able to make their own money much to the dismay of their husbands. Such profound changes might not have occurred if it weren’t for the brave actions of people like Chishlom.

Another issue that many people faced at this time was sexuality. Premarital sex was no longer a silent matter and homosexuality wasn’t as much of a taboo as if once was. Still, there was progress to be made.

“Gay” men and lesbian women organized to combat discrimination against them, to give themselves a sense of community, to overcome shame and isolation

Just like the women’s fight for equality this would be no walk in the park. No matter how expressive the LGBT community may been, their inability  to follow  certain “social norms” made them outcasts; which in my opinion, unfortunately is still often the case today. None the less, this oppressed group of peoples effort to speak out made the topic of sex more approachable. Sex became a commonly used element in both literature and everyday conversation… Much to America’s surprise!

Surprises (Extra Credit)

“As the civil rights and antiwar movements developed in the 1960s, Indians were already gathering their energy for resistance, thinking about how to change their situation, beginning to organize.”

Native Americans were the first inhabitants of this country but have nonetheless, been massacred, separated and discriminated. These actions against the Native Americans are evident in the massacre at Wounded Knee, the multitude of treaties broken, and the separation and distribution of Native Americans onto reservations. If they were going to be treated as a separate people, then they would act like a separate people. Sid Mills, a Native American Vietnam veteran, renounced his allegiance to the United States when the U.S. started arresting Indian fisherman on the Puyallup River. “We will fight for our rights”, he said. And fight they did. They fought verbally and physically. They used the white man’s own culture- books and newspapers. On November 9, 1969, 78 Indians occupied Alcatraz. By the end of the month, nearly 600 Indians (representing over 50 tribes) were living there. Along with their physical presence there, they issued a proclamation called “We Hold the Rock”, where they offered to buy the island in glass beads and red cloth. They mockingly said that it would be a perfect reservation since it was isolated and lacked any means to live. They published their own paper, the Akwesasne Notes. They did anything and everything to fight the continued oppression of their people.

“The law cannot do it for us. We must do it for ourselves. Women in this country must become revolutionaries. We must refuse to accept the old, the traditional roles and stereotypes…. We must replace the old, negative thoughts about our femininity with positive thoughts and positive action….”

At this time, women also began to organize themselves. They overlooked racial barriers and organized themselves because they were women. Universally, women suffered from the “problem with no name”. They lived through their husbands, children and housework. If their jobs weren’t worthless like housework, then they were worth less than their male counterparts. Women found their voice during this decade. They organized WITCH, established female sports teams, magazines and newspapers. In 1967, Johnson signed an executive order banning sex discrimination in federal employment. They earned the right to abortion (Roe vs. Wade). They pushed through the stereotypes and into a new and revolutionized role for women.

Zinn includes these groups because these changing times have proven that the white man is no longer the dominant class. Instead, each group and each person deserves the same recognition and rights. These were the groups that had to earn their freedoms; it was never entitled to them like it was to the white man.

Betty Friedan: Women’s Rights Activist

Extra Credit Blog Post (women and Indians)

Chapter 19 is titled “surprises” because new kinds of people started to emerge in the 1960s and 70’s. these groups of people were silent for so long and during these times, they found the courage to get out from underneath the rock.
Women were one of these groups. they already obtained voting rights, but they just like men, they wanted more. Since the beginning of time, women have been known as housewives, they cooked, cleaned and took care of the children. world war 2 brought change to this, that is when women stepped up to the plate. but by the 60s they were getting even more recognition. 23 million woman workers earned a paycheck and their numbers were growing. one thing that was surprising is that many women started going to jail due to sit ins and protests. age did not matter; older women like Ell Baker, Amelia Boynton and younger women like Gloria Richardson and Annelle Ponder. Fannie Lou Hammer became famous for her quote “I’m sick of tired of being sick and tired”. women are known for their gossip, but now instad of talking about nothing they started to talk about “the problem”. women all knew what it was, and they started to do something about it. this was a very important movement because women wanted to be recognized, and in the summer of 1964 women went on strike against their own husbands, they didn’t cook or clean or do anything. Shirley Chisholm a black congresswoman said “the law cannot do it for us, we must do it for ourselves. women in this country must be revolutionaries”

Another group were the Indians. people thought that they were gone but they were always here, it is their country. one indian was arrested in the fish ins, he was a veteran of the Vietnam war. once he was arrested he stated “i hereby renounce further obligation in service or duty to the united states”. hat is saying something.Indians adopted the American way and they fought back with newspapers. they created editorials and started their own paper, Akwesasne Notes. one of the most surprising event is when more than 600 Indians took over Alcatraz. they made it the center for indian life. they wanted to depollute the air and start fishing again, basically go back to their native ways. But the U.S kicked them out. so the Indians started to do something about it. in 1969, the indians started a convocation where they spoke out.
we have learned from the past that being silent does nothing. if you want to start a revolution you must speak, and then you will succeed.

Reexamination of Traditional Society

fishing protest 1978
The 1960’s and 1970’s were a time of radical movements brought upon by various groups who were tired of being oppressed because of the current ideology of America. The groups were mainly minorities who had no voice in the government and could only be heard after years of struggles. The Native Americans were one set of individuals that had their entire lives disrupted because of the Americans. They were forgotten about when the U.S. no longer saw them as a threat and were forced to integrate into American’s way of life, slowly giving up whatever culture they had left had. A Hopi Indian named Sun Chief said
“I had learned many English words and could recite part of the Ten Commandments. I knew how to sleep on a bed, pray to Jesus, comb my hair, eat with a knife and fork, and use a toilet. … I had also learned that a person thinks with his head instead of his heart.”
However, even though many were forced to live the American’s way of life, the Natives never forgot their own heritage. They were constantly reminded of how Americans took away everything and violated as Americans went back on promises they made. “The United States government had signed more than 400 treaties with Indians and violated every single one. ” In 1968, fishing rights that had once been granted to the Natives, were taken away because Americans wanted it exclusively. The Indians staged protests to get their voices heard but the government paid no attention. It wasn’t until many fights and protests later that the two groups finally reached an agreement. Zinn includes this particular group because they represent a continuous struggle of a population that did not give up. Over the course of hundreds of years, the Natives did not forgot their own culture and succumb to their new environment. Their movement contributed to the changing of traditional America because it forced people to acknowledge Native Americans as part of their society while allowing them to still keep their own traditions.

The movement for “unquestioned ways of living” was important for everyone who was considered to be different from the standards American society had set. This movement was brought on by new generations who were opening up to a new way of progressive thinking unlike the older generations that had been strictly conditioned on what to think. For example, “Homosexuality was no longer concealed. “Gay” men and “gay” women- lesbians-organized to combat discrimination against them, to give themselves a sense of community, to overcome shame and isolation.” The LGBT group was acknowledged and for the first time, they weren’t thought to be mentally ill. Books of a sexual nature, once forbidden, became available and slowly movies started including sexual scenes. There was no longer such rigid distinction between sexes as women were not confined at home. They were able to get jobs and wear pants while men didn’t have so much pressure to appear so manly all the time. Media and the arts was a huge catalyst behind the changes. “Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, [sang] not only protest songs, but songs reflecting the new abandon, the new culture, became popular idols.” With this kind of reinforcement, the new ideology was accepted and people were freer to be who they were. In return they were able to be more open to who others were too, even if they weren’t the same race, class, gender, etc. Without these progressive changes, America wouldn’t be the country it is today but the struggle for equality is still a never ending battle.

Chisholm & Mills’ road to equality

Up until the late 60’s and early 70’s, women were regarded merely as possessions. They held little voice in politics, in fact they had very little authority even in their own households. Zinn includes Shirley Chisholm because she was women who speaks on behalf of all women. She was a women who was not afraid to stand to the oppressors. She was a women who inspired all women. Chisholm states,

“The Law cannot do it for us. We must do it for ourselves. Women in this country must become revolutionaries. We must refuse to accept the old, the traditional roles and stereotypes… We must replace the old, negative thoughts about our femininity with positive thoughts and positive action…”

Through these words Chisholm was able to inspire a nation of unconfident and insecure women into revolutionary figures. Women began holding meetings, large meetings in each others homes. These “women groups” were instrumental in restructuring the social formation of the nation. Women quickly acquired the confidence to step up and to set things right. Though it wasn’t achieved overnight, Chisholm’s words acted as a catalyst in bringing about equality amongst men and women. The reason Zinn includes this particular example is because it shows how ordinary people, in this case women were able to revolutionize the country by simply building off the words of one another. Moreover it shows how vital women were in transforming this country by eliminating gender inequalities.


Another example Zinn analyses is the the account of Sid Mills. Sid Mills was a Yakima and Cherokee Indian. He was an ordinary man seeking equality like Chisholm. Part of Indians’ lives was fishing, however during the latter 60’s and 70’s much of the government ignored Indians’ rights to fish, and by doing so led to righteous protests from the Indian community. The protests led to the deaths of many innocent Indians. Mills writes,

“My first obligation now lies with the Indian people fighting for the lawful treaty to fish in usual and accustomed water of the Nisqually… and in serving them in this fight in any way possible… What kind of government or society would spend millions of dollars to pick upon our bones, restore our ancestral life patterns, and protect our ancient remains from damage-while at the same time eating upon the flesh of our living People…? We will fight for our rights.”

Mills has a very legitimate point he brings up. Why would the government destroy something they are trying to protect. Not only that, why would they spend millions of dollars doing something that is essentially only provoking the situation and making it worse. Zinn includes this piece because it demonstrates the intellectual capacity of the people, and shows the loopholes in government decision making. The Indians are a part of this country, they are the native inhabitants of this country. They are not to be ridiculed and neglected. Zinn shows how people stand up for their rights, how they never back down. Indians fought because they cared because they were being stripped off their lifestyles. They didn’t fight just to fight back like the government did. They fought because they couldn’t take defeat, because this was who they were. They were people fighting for themselves, and by doing so were able to inspire other Indians in a revolutionary manner to make their presence known. They were the ultimate surprise package, and that is ultimately why Zinn decided to include it.




Susan Brownmiller and Shirley Chisholm

Women’s Liberation parade on Fifth Ave, in New York, in August, 1971


It seems, from what we’ve read, and seen in Far From Heaven, that most women during the 1950s embraced and rather enjoyed the position of vulnerable, sensitive housewife. All the women surrounding Cathy continuously reminded her that she was to remain in her place if she did not want to be exiled from their group. However, we see a growth in resentment towards living a life as a controlled and dependent housewife beginning in the 1960s. Women grew tired of being “silently” beaten and/or raped by their husbands without society batting an eye. The following two posts (p. 510-511) demonstrate just how tired women were of the cruel treatment they received, and what they planned to do about it.


Women also began to speak openly, for the first time, about the problem of rape. Each year, fifty thousand rapes were reported and many more were unreported. Women began taking self-defense courses. There were protests against the way police treated women, interrogated them, insulted them, when women filed rape charges. A book by Susan Brownmiller, Against Our Will, was widely read—it is a powerful, indignant history and analysis of rape, suggesting self-defense, individual or collective:

Fighting back. On a multiplicity of levels, that is the activity we must engage in, together, if we—women—are to redress the imbalance and rid ourselves and men of the ideology of rape. Rape can be eradicated, not merely controlled or avoided on an individual basis, but the approach must be long-range and cooperative, and must have the understanding and good will of many men as well as women…

Susa Brownmiller’s Against Our Will’s excerpt clearly shows a dramatic shift from the feeble, quiet image that women were encouraged to maintain, to a more liberated, independent woman figure. Now, instead of women enduring the abuse of their husbands, or other men, they were being encouraged to fight back. Rape was something that was not seen as vile up until the ‘60s and ‘70s. A woman would not fare well if she tried to declare that she was raped. “Rape? What rape? There’s no such thing as rape, men control you. You are their property, so they can and will do as please with you” would be the thought of policemen if they heard any accusations of rape. Brownmiller was taking a bold stance in declaring that such a disgusting act would not be tolerated any longer. Not only will women fight back, but they will change society’s views on rape so that people may realize that rape is and has always been an evil act. That is why Zinn included her. Women are no longer accepting that they are men’s property. They are not, and never have been. Brownmiller is a strong figure of women’s power and liberation.


Many women were active in trying to get a Constitutional amendment, ERA (Equal Rights Amendment), passed by enough states. But it seemed clear that even if it became law, it would not be enough, that what women had accomplished had come through organization, action, protest. Even where the law was helpful it was helpful only if backed by action. Shirley Chisholm, a black Congresswoman, said:

The law cannot do it for us. We must do it for ourselves. Women in this country must become revolutionaries. We must refuse to accept the old, the traditional roles and stereotypes… We must replace the old, negative thoughts about our femininity with positive thoughts and positive action…

The ERA was a legal symbol of women’s liberation. However, Zinn argues that what women accomplished was mainly due to protesting and taking action. Shirley Chisholm held the same belief despite being a black Congresswoman. People such as Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, and students at Kent State held protests, and those protests are what caused change. Likewise, the protests and actions that women took in order to erase the image of vulnerable, dim housewife also caused great change. Her influential position is what made Zinn include her. She influenced women to change the stereotypes and traditional roles for the image of a new, liberated woman. This is how all liberation movements were effective. People protested, marched, spoke loudly, demanded, and acted. Zinn includes Brownmiller and Chisholm because they were some of the perhaps lesser known voices of the women’s liberation movement. Nevertheless, their words helped many women fight against centuries of oppression, and they were victorious.

Real Housewives’ of the 60’s

An Ideal Housewife

In “A Peoples History of the United states”, by Howard Zinn, various important movement liberators are mentioned. The time of the 1960s and 1970s were robust and lacking individuality for women, Latinos, gays, and many more. Many leaders of these movements, such as Patricia Robinson who rooted for black females, and Betty Friedan. Patricia Robinson directed a pamphlet called “Poor Black Women”, in which she denounced the issue of women needing basic social change and justice. The 70’s were a harsh time for both blacks and women, and she acknowledged this, reasoning that women should become independent and self-righteous,

“She withdrew the children from male dominance and to educate and support them herself. In this very process, male authority and exploitation are seriously weakened.”

Showing her Argument for the very standing that an independent woman can raise kids and be a protecting guardian, Howard Zinn is able to portray the correct image of that time, the prejudice and reliance that was forced upon woman by society, and cast that males had a superior role in the household. In the case of Betty Friedan, with her book “The Feminine Mystique” she compiled a lecture on the struggles and apparitions of women.

She tended to conceive in that women were lacking a sort of plaint role in life; “Sometimes a woman would say I feel empty, somehow… incomplete.” Her introduction into the perils and loneliness of a woman paints a better picture than a painter ever could. By introducing her agenda, Howard Zinn provides a sense of feeling for how ladies and women at that time felt

. “…a man’s wife is the show window where he exhibits the measure of his achievement… The biggest deals are put across over luncheon tables;… we meet at dinner the people who can push our fortunes… The woman who cultivates a circle of worthwhile people, who belongs to clubs, who makes herself interesting and agreeable… is a help to her husband.”

By incorporating this, Zinn is able to make a point of how woman had progressed to that they need not to prove themselves as an individual, but were thought alongside their life partner, and represented each other. The woman who had been able to reflect herself through the people she hung out with and the things she did truly spoke for herself, more than any other stereotype ever could. Moreover, the attitude that woman were idealistic to their family and figurehead disillusioned the process of sexual prejudice to its core. Woman were no longer restrained to being trophies to husbands, but instead actual helpers, almost guides. Using her as an example, he depicts just how exasperated and ventured the woman soul was in the 60s and 70s, and how motivated they were to chase their Manifest Destiny of equal rights.

Adrienne Rich and George Jackson


Zinn’s style of historical account is that of the bottom-up.  He focuses more on that segment of history- the powerless, the have-not, the marginalized and the minority that is often neglected by the so call ”popular historians”.  He skillfully analyze the struggle between the powerless and the powerful, the system against the people through individual experience, contributions and movements. Be it individual contribution or collective effort like the civil right movement, the feminist movement, Gay right activism, Prison protest, etc..  He believe that with persistence and well organized revolt and rebellion,  it is inevitable that the  old order will be turned upside down.

One of these minority and marginalized segment that the rebellion against the system was taken root in 60s and 70s was The women movement.  Rightly stated, “Feminist Movement.”  Contrary to what opponents labeled them to be, feminism is the demand for equal right and protection.  Protection from sex discrimination and rape.  But this time this demand want from being passive to being militant.  For the first time, women were  protesting and revolting against the injustice that has been perpetuated against them by the patriarchal system.  The system was “surprise” that because of this common goal for justice shared by the women, racial barriers was broken.  Women from all works of life- black, white, Latino, Gay and straight came together to demand the right  to choose what to do with their body.

Women used all means necessary to make there voice heard. Some quietly worked behind the scene, while others organized their neighborhood.  Some were visible by joining the picket line and demonstrated and protested on the street.  While others use the pen as a weapon of the revolution.  They wrote poems, essays and books about the injustice against women by the system.  Most of these brave women were called name like revolutionaries, communists, atypical. One  women worth mentioning among the host of others is Adrienne Rich.   Rich was an American essayist, poet and feminist.  She was an influential and widely read poet of the 20th century.  During her life, she forcefully uses her poetic talent to fight the oppression of women and lesbians.  In 1997 she rejected the award of National Medal of Arts in protest of congress to end the National Endowment for the Arts and because of similar policies by the Clinton’s Administration. In her poem, Diving into the Wreck, Rich wrote


“We are, I am, you are

 by cowardice or courage

 the one who find our way

 back to this scene

 carrying a knife, a camera

 a book of myths

 in which

 our names do not appear.”

While living in New York, Adrienne Rich hosted anti-war and Black Panthers fundraising parties.  She died in 2012 in Santa Cruz, California.

Around the same time, there was another similar agitation brewing.  In the darkest, lonely and forgotten segment of the society,  voices were rising against injustice. Whoever suspected that a revolt started in the prison will climb to national recognition? Once again, it came as a “surprise” to the system.  In examining that segment of history that is often neglected, Zinn wrote about the protests and revolts  in the prisons, specifically using the experience or involvement of individuals.  One of such individuals is George Jackson. Jackson was a political prisoner in Soledad prison.  He became an African-American activist, Marxist,a member of the Black Panther, and co-founder of the Black Guerrilla Family while in prison.  The story given by the system about his death in the hands of San Quentin prison guards, was full of suspicion and conspiracy.  The cover up of what really happen spark many rebellions and protests in prisons around the country. In using Jackson to depicts this longing for equal right and better conditions, Zinn is showing that revolution can begin anywhere.  It does not matter the condition, it does not matter the darkness, a person willing to speak out against the system, that is all is needed to sow that seed that will eventually overthrow the system.  But will sometime come with the person paying the ultimate sacrifice for the course.  Because the system is brutal and will not stop until they stamp out all those who try to speak against the malfunction or injustice in the system.  George Jackson rightly put it himself when he wrote, “……..Anyone who can pass the civil service examination today can kill me tomorrow……with complete immunity.”