Civil Rights No Laughing Matter

1967 Playboy cartoon Blacks

Vintage cartoon Playboy Magazine 1967

The battle for civil rights went to the heart of what the American Dream was about and who could share in it.

By the late 1960s, race relations crept front and center into the news and public discourse, a fact reflected in the recent episodes of Mad Men.

Flipping through an issue of Playboy Magazine while getting his hair cut, Don Draper might very well have had his consciousness raised a bit.

During that time period, Playboy Magazine became explicitly political, maintaining a liberal stance on the various issues of the decade including Civil rights.

1967 cartoon playboy civil rights

Vintage cartoon addressing the growing conflict on segregation and housing Playboy Magazine 1967 by Buck Brown

In 1966 , two neighborhoods in Chicago were the sites of racially motivated violence as white mobs attacked civil rights demonstrators protesting against segregation in housing. Many blacks from the inner city could afford to live in these neighborhoods but the locals made it very clear they were not wanted.

The conflict was essentially a fight over and for the American Dream, one group trying to preserve theirs while the other tried to achieve it.

Over the next couple of years blacks would themselves use violence in cities across America to protest their exclusion from the American Dream, a source of confusion for many whites  “The major outbreak of Negro violence is such a profoundly disturbing event because it calls into question so many optimistic assumptions about American society” said William V. Shannon of the NY Times in 1967, the experience and outlook of most white people typically a world apart from the perspective of blacks.

In April of 1968, Martin Luther King was killed ensuring that the summer of 1968 would not be  a reprisal of the previous years “summer of love” in some of the nations cities. “I see the promised land” King preached in Memphis the night before this death sure that his people would realize the American Dream even if he himself did not live to see it.

The Great Society was off to a decidedly un-great start.

One comment

  1. Pingback: A Vintage Vacation in Apartheid South Africa | Envisioning The American Dream

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