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


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.