Youth culture refers to a set of norms and practices that are shared by young people. The elements of youth culture encompass behaviors, beliefs and social interests. In the recent past, youth culture has been known for experimentation, especially with immoral behavior. For instance, the youth are known to drink and have violent character in order to fit into the youth culture. Indeed, many of them do not seem to suffer the long term consequences of their behavior. Thus, revolutionists of the 1960s used the daring youth culture to make political impacts in the society. The Vietnam War ended because of a vehement opposition from youthful students who were mobilized by youth organizations. Moreover, the American Civil Rights Movement heavily relied on the participation of the youth to make the political impact they made in America. These stories would be best explained from the perspective of a Colombian revolutionist, with regards to the violent behavior of a Latin American youth (Beezley 52).
The American Civil Right Movement of the 1960s was majorly driven by youthful students who wanted a legal enforcement of social equality for all Americans. Although the initial stages of the struggle had all social groups except the youth, their eventual entry in the 1960s was quite dramatic. At this time, a sizeable number of white and black American youths joined as they wanted to be part of the American struggle for equality. The reason the youth have significantly contributed to revolutions is their energy and criminal behavior. According to sociologists, the idea of change sells best among the youth. It’s because they care about their destiny and cannot afford to watch it ruined. Among the Latin Americans, the feel that their lives are already strained and cannot take more social oppression. Thus, they would not hesitate to join in the demonstrations and unleash violence on the perceived enemies.3For instance, the popular argument during the 1960s was the idea of emergence of mixed races. It was feared that the social intolerance towards the blacks would one day turn to haunt the whites, especially their off-springs who would have a mixed heritage. The fear generated a lot of concern and indeed convinced all young people, whites and blacks, that social intolerance had to be stopped. At the moment, there were several Americans who were of mixed race and therefore, they felt out of place. Due to their enthusiasm for change and the fear of a worse future, they set out in the streets to oppose racial segregation (Martin and Mark 72).
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Social unity is a character that has marked the face of youth culture for centuries, whether in crime or normal social behavior. Thus, when a matter that affects the youth arises, they seem to work together to fight the common enemy. The conveners of the Civil Rights Movement seemed to understand this fact when they called for their participation. For instance, the movement established a student union called “Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee” that educated students on Mahatma Gandhi’s ideas of non-violent demonstrations. With these kinds of unions, the movement found an avenue to explain itself to the students and why they had to pursue social integration. Indeed, students bought the idea and significantly influenced their colleagues within a short span of time. 1In only a few years, students had almost taken over the American Civil Rights Movement as they would make a greater percentage of demonstrators in the streets. In addition, the students eventually had a significant impact on their parents who had earlier had misgivings about the intentions of the civil rights activists. In the end, the entire America understood the essence of the demonstrations and why the black community had to pursue it. 1Although not everyone supported the idea, the backlash that the civil rights activists had initially received from the old American population ceased considerably. It explains the respect that Martin Luther King Jnr. had in his time and the respect that Jesse Jackson still commands in America (Beezley 52).
The concept of youth culture makes it very easy to unite them around an ideology. The American Civil Rights Movement seemed to understand this when they advocated for the formation of the Congress of Social Equality. Indeed, students encounter several such stories in their curricula that significantly influence their thoughts. For instance, there is no doubt that students who were learning about the writings of David Thoreau understood the significance of civil disobedience as a tool for triggering change. Thus, the civil rights activists did not have to spend so much time convincing them to join the demonstrations. They saw the moral obligation to stand up for social equality. According to the literature available, the idea of social equity started as a slight dissatisfaction with the emerging gap between the poor and the rich. Students felt frustrated by the fact that they could not afford certain services that their colleagues from rich families could afford. Essentially, youth culture is associated with lavish life where one can get whatever they want whenever they want it. Thus, they get frustrated when this looks impossible and can actually do everything they can to reverse it. According to sociologists, this explains the rebellion that emerges at teen age. When the civil activists connected this social divide to the situation of the blacks, students easily bought it because they had a similar experience. For instance, blacks could not go to certain schools or get services in certain restaurants simply because they were of the wrong race. Understandably, the civil activists used this analogy to whip up emotions against racial segregation. They argued that if not stopped, the trend of segregation would generate into a segregation of social classes and eventually catch up with the middle class. In this manner, the youth culture of social unity enabled them to get student to participate in the demonstrations (Martin and Mark 72).
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In the 1960s, the church formed a significant part of the youth culture. At least every youth had a church that they identified with at the moment. This certainly fostered a sense of unity amongst them to the extent that they would accept to die for their colleagues. This feeling informed their decision to join the demonstrations in large numbers. 2According to the literature available, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference greatly evoked a sense of humanity amongst the youth and necessitated their participation in the demonstrations. The feeling at the time was a brother’s problem is one’s own problem and that when black colleagues are being rounded up unfairly their white friends have a moral obligation to stand by them. Although people go to church purely to worship, the social encounter aspect cannot be ignored. It must be noted that the church provided the best avenue for blacks to share their grievances with their white counterparts as this was the only institution that was not racially charged. For instance, Martin Luther King Jnr. had the privilege of using the podium to condemn issues of racial segregation and explain his motives to whites and blacks alike. This explains the level of success that he had in organizing some of the most successful demonstrations in the world history (Beazley 52).
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The 1960s also saw the youth take a strong stand against the war in Vietnam. At the moment, the economy was ailing and most families could not afford fees for colleges. Thus, the kind of life that the youth lived did not match the standards of the youth culture. For instance, there were no new employments for a long time as the government was so preoccupied with the war in Vietnam. 4Generally, the youths managed to organize themselves using songs or certain social events to ensure they were ready to fight for their destiny. Some of the songs are still popular to date and they basically focused the need to prioritize the social welfare of Americans and not the war in Vietnam. Although violence and destruction has always been part of youth culture, the church was able to create a subculture among the youth at the moment. Thus, they began to view the war as unnecessary cause of economic strain on the government. According to the popular belief at the moment, there was no reason engaging in such an expensive war when America could not afford the education for its youth (Martin and Mark 72).
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The students’ organizations like the Congress of Social Equality used music and social events to get the support the youth in activism. They understood that youth culture really valued a life full of fun and violence. That’s why they composed good music in order to convey the message to the people and eventually have an influence on them. In the end, they greatly succeeded in getting the youth to oppose what they termed misplaced priorities. 1According to literature, the youth at the moment went to the streets simply out of bitterness about the kind of life that they lived. They wanted the government to commit itself once again to giving the youth the kind of life that their culture demanded. The entry of the church, especially the announcement of Martin Luther King Jnr. that he was opposed to the war considerably changed the fortunes as most youths took his word for the truth. That exemplified how youth subculture could equally determine the direction of politics (Beezley 52).
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In conclusion, youth culture encompasses shared behaviors, beliefs and social interests. History has shown that these elements can be used to effectively unite the youth around an idea and help to trigger social reforms. This is typical of the experience of a Colombian revolutionist.
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