Flower power

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A demonstrator offers a flower to military police at an anti-Vietnam War protest at The Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, 21 October 1967 Vietnamdem.jpg
A demonstrator offers a flower to military police at an anti-Vietnam War protest at The Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, 21 October 1967

Flower power was a slogan used during the late 1960s and early 1970s as a symbol of passive resistance and non-violence ideology. [1] It is rooted in the opposition movement to the Vietnam War. [2] The expression was coined by the American Beat poet Allen Ginsberg in 1965 as a means to transform war protests into peaceful affirmative spectacles. [3] [4] [5] Hippies embraced the symbolism by dressing in clothing with embroidered flowers and vibrant colors, wearing flowers in their hair, and distributing flowers to the public, becoming known as flower children. [6] The term later became generalized as a modern reference to the hippie movement and the so-called counterculture of drugs, psychedelic music, psychedelic art and social permissiveness. [7]

Slogan motto or phrase used in advertising or other purposes

A slogan is a memorable motto or phrase used in a clan, political, commercial, religious, and other context as a repetitive expression of an idea or purpose, with the goal of persuading members of the public or a more defined target group. The Oxford Dictionary of English defines a slogan as "a short and striking or memorable phrase used in advertising." A slogan usually has the attributes of being memorable, very concise and appealing to the audience.

Nonviolent resistance practice of achieving goals through nonviolent methods

Nonviolent resistance is the practice of achieving goals such as social change through symbolic protests, civil disobedience, economic or political noncooperation, satyagraha, or other methods, while being nonviolent. This type of action highlights the desires of an individual or group that feels that something needs to change to improve the current condition of the resisting person or group. It is largely but wrongly taken as synonymous with civil resistance. Each of these terms—nonviolent resistance and civil resistance—has different connotations and commitments.

Nonviolence philosophy, personal or collective attitude, refusing to legitimate violence and promoting the respect of others in conflicts

Nonviolence is the personal practice of being harmless to self and others under every condition. It comes from the belief that hurting people, animals or the environment is unnecessary to achieve an outcome and refers to a general philosophy of abstention from violence. This may be based on moral, religious or spiritual principles, or it may be for purely strategic or pragmatic reasons.



Flower Power originated in Berkeley, California, as a symbolic action of protest against the Vietnam War. In a November 1965 essay titled How to Make a March/Spectacle, Ginsberg advocated that protesters should be provided with "masses of flowers" to hand out to policemen, press, politicians and spectators. [8] The use of props like flowers, toys, flags, candy and music were meant to turn anti-war rallies into a form of street theater thereby reducing the fear, anger and threat that is inherent within protests. [9] In particular, Ginsberg wanted to counter the "specter" of the Hells Angels motorcycle gang who supported the war, equated war protesters with communists and had threatened to violently disrupt planned anti-war demonstrations at the University of California, Berkeley. [10] [11] [12] Using Ginsberg's methods, the protest received positive attention and the use of "flower power" became an integral symbol in the counterculture movement. [13]

Berkeley, California City in California, United States

Berkeley is a city on the east shore of San Francisco Bay in northern Alameda County, California. It is named after the 18th-century Irish bishop and philosopher George Berkeley. It borders the cities of Oakland and Emeryville to the south and the city of Albany and the unincorporated community of Kensington to the north. Its eastern border with Contra Costa County generally follows the ridge of the Berkeley Hills. The 2010 census recorded a population of 112,580.

California State of the United States of America

California is a state in the Pacific Region of the United States. With 39.6 million residents, California is the most populous U.S. state and the third-largest by area. The state capital is Sacramento. The Greater Los Angeles Area and the San Francisco Bay Area are the nation's second and fifth most populous urban regions, with 18.7 million and 9.7 million residents respectively. Los Angeles is California's most populous city, and the country's second most populous, after New York City. California also has the nation's most populous county, Los Angeles County, and its largest county by area, San Bernardino County. The City and County of San Francisco is both the country's second-most densely populated major city after New York City and the fifth-most densely populated county, behind only four of the five New York City boroughs.

Hells Angels Motorcycle club

The Hells Angels Motorcycle Club (HAMC) is a worldwide one-percenter motorcycle club whose members typically ride Harley-Davidson motorcycles. The organization is predominantly white males and considered to be an organized crime syndicate by the United States Department of Justice. In the United States and Canada, the Hells Angels are incorporated as the Hells Angels Motorcycle Corporation. Common nicknames for the club are the "H.A.", "Red & White", "HAMC" and "81".


"The cry of 'Flower Power' echoes through the land. We shall not wilt. Let a thousand flowers bloom."

Abbie Hoffman, Workshop in Nonviolence, May 1967

By late 1966, the Flower Power method of guerilla theater had spread from California to other parts of the United States. The Bread and Puppet Theater in New York City staged numerous protests which included handing out balloons and flowers with their anti-war literature. [14] Workshop in Nonviolence (WIN), a magazine published by New York activists, encouraged the use of Flower Power. In May 1967, Abbie Hoffman organized the Flower Brigade as an official contingent of a New York City parade honoring the soldiers in Vietnam. News coverage captured Flower Brigade participants, who carried flowers, flags and pink posters imprinted with LOVE, being attacked and beaten by bystanders. [14] In response to the violence, Hoffman wrote in WIN magazine, "Plans are being made to mine the East River with daffodils. Dandelion chains are being wrapped around induction centers.... The cry of 'Flower Power' echoes through the land. We shall not wilt." [14]

Bread and Puppet Theater theatre company

The Bread and Puppet Theater is a politically radical puppet theater, active since the 1960s, currently based in Glover, Vermont. Its founder and director is Peter Schumann.

Abbie Hoffman American political and social activist

Abbot Howard Hoffman was an American political and social activist, anarchist, and revolutionary who co-founded the Youth International Party ("Yippies").

On the following Sunday in May 1967, WIN activists declared the Armed Forces Day as "Flower Power Day" and held a rally in Central Park to counter the traditional parade. Turnout was low and, according to Hoffman, the rally was ineffective because guerilla theater needed to be more confrontational. [14] [15]

Armed Forces Day National holidays honoring military forces

Many nations around the world observe some kind of Armed Forces Day to honor their military forces. It's celebrated in the US as a day to appreciate all active duty service members. This isn't to be confused with Veterans Day or Memorial Day.

Central Park Large public park in Manhattan, New York, United States

Central Park is an urban park in Manhattan, New York City. It is located between the Upper West Side and Upper East Side, roughly bounded by Fifth Avenue on the east, Central Park West on the west, Central Park South on the south, and Central Park North on the north. Central Park is the most visited urban park in the United States, with 40 million visitors in 2013, and one of the most filmed locations in the world. In terms of area, Central Park is the fifth largest park in New York City, covering 843 acres (341 ha).

In October 1967, Hoffman and Jerry Rubin helped organize the March on the Pentagon using Flower Power concepts to create a theatrical spectacle. [16] The idea included a call for marchers to attempt to levitate the Pentagon. When the marchers faced off against more than 2500 Army national guard troops forming a human barricade in front of the Pentagon, demonstrators held flowers and some placed flowers in the soldier's rifle barrels. [17]

Jerry Rubin American activist

Jerry Clyde Rubin was an American social activist, anti-war leader, and counterculture icon during the 1960s and 1970s. During the 1980s, he became a successful businessman.

The Pentagon headquarters of the United States Department of Defense

The Pentagon, in Arlington County, Virginia, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., is the headquarters of the United States Department of Defense. As a symbol of the U.S. military, the phrase The Pentagon is often used as a metonym for the Department of Defense and its leadership.

External images
Searchtool.svg The classic photo of a young woman with a flower facing-off against soldiers with fixed bayonets, by Marc Riboud [18]
Searchtool.svg Pulitzer Prize-nominated Flower Power photo by Bernie Boston . [19]

Photographs of flower-wielding protesters at the Pentagon March became seminal images of the 1960s anti-war protests. An image by French photojournalist Marc Riboud that was printed throughout the world was of seventeen-year-old high school student Jan Rose Kasmir clasping a daisy and gazing at bayonet-wielding soldiers. Smithsonian Magazine later called it "a gauzy juxtaposition of armed force and flower child innocence". [20]

Marc Riboud French photographer

Marc Riboud was a French photographer, best known for his extensive reports on the Far East: The Three Banners of China, Face of North Vietnam, Visions of China, and In China.

One photo, titled Flower Power by Washington Star photographer Bernie Boston, was nominated for the 1967 Pulitzer Prize. [19] The photo, taken on October 21, 1967, shows a young, long-haired man in a turtleneck sweater, placing carnations into the rifle barrels of military policemen. (The young man in the photo is most commonly identified as George Edgerly Harris III, an 18-year-old actor from New York who later performed in San Francisco under the stage name of Hibiscus. [21] [22] The young man also has been identified by Paul Krassner as Youth International Party organizer, "Super-Joel" Tornabene. [23] )

Cultural legacy

The iconic center of the Flower Power movement was the Haight-Ashbury district in San Francisco, California. [24] [25] By the mid-1960s, the area, marked by the intersection of Haight and Ashbury streets, had become a focal point for psychedelic rock music. [26] Musicians and bands like Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead and Janis Joplin all lived a short distance from the famous intersection. During the 1967 Summer of Love, thousands of hippies gathered there, popularized by hit songs such as "San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)". A July 7, 1967, Time magazine cover story on "The Hippies: Philosophy of a Subculture" and an August CBS News television report on "The Hippie Temptation", [27] as well as other major media interest, exposed the hippie subculture to national attention and popularized the Flower Power movement across the country and around the world. That same summer, the Beatles' hit single "All You Need Is Love" served as an anthem for the movement. [28] On 25 June, the Beatles performed the song on the Our World international satellite broadcast, ensuring that the pacifist message reached an audience estimated at 400 million. [29]

Cotton fabric, late 1960s (USA) Late 1960s cotton print fabric.jpg
Cotton fabric, late 1960s (USA)

The avant-garde art of Milton Glaser, Heinz Edelmann, and Peter Max became synonymous with the flower power generation. Edelman's illustration style was best known in his art designs for the Beatles' 1968 animated film Yellow Submarine . Glaser, the founder of Push Pin Studios, also developed the loose psychedelic graphic design, seen for example in his seminal 1966 poster illustration of Bob Dylan with paisley hair. [30] It was the posters by pop artist Peter Max, with their vivid fluid designs painted in Day-Glo colors, which became visual icons of flower power. [31] Max's cover story in Life magazine (September 1969) as well as appearances on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and The Ed Sullivan Show , further established "flower power" style art into mainstream culture. [32]

See also

Related Research Articles

Psychedelic rock Style of rock music

Psychedelic rock is a diverse style of rock music inspired, influenced, or representative of psychedelic culture, which is centred around perception-altering hallucinogenic drugs. The music is intended to replicate and enhance the mind-altering experiences of psychedelic drugs, most notably LSD. Many psychedelic groups differ in style, and the label is often applied spuriously.

Summer of Love mid 1967 social and political phenomenon in San Francisco, California, USA

The Summer of Love was a social phenomenon that occurred during the summer of 1967, when as many as 100,000 people, mostly young people sporting hippie fashions of dress and behavior, converged in San Francisco's neighborhood of Haight-Ashbury. Although hippies also gathered in many other places in the U.S., Canada and Europe, San Francisco was at that time the most publicized location for hippie subculture.

Psychedelia Subculture of people who use psychedelic drugs

Psychedelia is the subculture, originating in the 1960s, of people who often use psychedelic drugs such as LSD, mescaline and psilocybin. The term is also used to describe a style of psychedelic artwork and psychedelic music. Psychedelic art and music typically try to recreate or reflect the experience of altered consciousness. Psychedelic art uses highly distorted and surreal visuals, bright colors and full spectrums and animation to evoke and convey to a viewer or listener the artist's experience while using such drugs, or to enhance the experience of a user of these drugs. Psychedelic music uses distorted electric guitar, Indian music elements such as the sitar, electronic effects, sound effects and reverberation, and elaborate studio effects, such as playing tapes backwards or panning the music from one side to another.

Hippie human subculture

A hippie is a member of the counterculture of the 1960s, originally a youth movement that began in the United States during the mid-1960s and spread to other countries around the world. The word hippie came from hipster and used to describe beatniks who moved into New York City's Greenwich Village and San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district. The term hippie first found popularity in San Francisco with Herb Caen, who was a journalist for the San Francisco Chronicle.

The Beat Generation was a literary movement started by a group of authors whose work explored and influenced American culture and politics in the post-war era. The bulk of their work was published and popularized throughout the 1950s. The central elements of Beat culture are the rejection of standard narrative values, making a spiritual quest, the exploration of American and Eastern religions, the rejection of materialism, explicit portrayals of the human condition, experimentation with psychedelic drugs, and sexual liberation and exploration.

Youth International Party

The Youth International Party, whose members were commonly called Yippies, was an American radically youth-oriented and countercultural revolutionary offshoot of the free speech and anti-war movements of the 1960s. It was founded on December 31, 1967. They employed theatrical gestures, such as advancing a pig as a candidate for President in 1968, to mock the social status quo. They have been described as a highly theatrical, anti-authoritarian and anarchist youth movement of "symbolic politics".

Human Be-In

The Human Be-In was an event in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park Polo Fields on January 14, 1967. It was a prelude to San Francisco's Summer of Love, which made the Haight-Ashbury district a symbol of American counterculture and introduced the word "psychedelic" to suburbia.

The Love Pageant Rally took place on October 6, 1966 — the day LSD became illegal — in the 'panhandle' of Golden Gate Park, a narrower section that projects into San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district. The 'Haight' was a neighborhood of run-down turn-of-the-20th-century housing that was the center of San Francisco's counterculture in the 1960s.

Haight-Ashbury Neighborhood in San Francisco, California, United States

Haight-Ashbury is a district of San Francisco, California, named for the intersection of Haight and Ashbury streets. It is also called The Haight and The Upper Haight. The neighborhood is known for being the origin of the hippie counterculture.

Flower child

Flower child originated as a synonym for hippie, especially among the idealistic young people who gathered in San Francisco and the surrounding area during the Summer of Love in 1967. It was the custom of "flower children" to wear and distribute flowers or floral-themed decorations to symbolize ideals of universal belonging, peace, and love. The mass media picked up on the term and used it to refer in a broad sense to any hippie. Flower children were also associated with the flower power political movement, which originated in ideas written by Allen Ginsberg in 1965.

National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam

The Spring Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam, which became the National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam, was a coalition of antiwar activists formed in 1967 to organize large demonstrations in opposition to the Vietnam War. The organization was informally known as "the Mobe".

Counterculture of the 1960s Anti-establishment cultural phenomenon

The counterculture of the 1960s was an anti-establishment cultural phenomenon that developed first in the United Kingdom (UK) and then the United States (US) and then spreading throughout much of the Western world between the mid-1960s and the mid-1970s, with London, New York City, and San Francisco being hotbeds of early countercultural activity. The aggregate movement gained momentum as the Civil Rights Movement continued to grow, and would later become revolutionary with the expansion of the US government's extensive military intervention in Vietnam. As the 1960s progressed, widespread social tensions also developed concerning other issues, and tended to flow along generational lines regarding human sexuality, women's rights, traditional modes of authority, experimentation with psychoactive drugs, and differing interpretations of the American Dream. Many key movements related to these issues were born or advanced within the counterculture of the 1960s.

The hippie subculture began its development as a youth movement in the United States during the early 1960s and then developed around the world.

<i>The Ultimate Confrontation</i> American activist

The Ultimate Confrontation: The Flower and the Bayonet is a photograph of Jan Rose Kasmir, at that time an American high-school student. This iconic photograph was taken by French photographer Marc Riboud. Riboud photographed Kasmir on 21 October 1967 while taking part with over 100,000 anti-war activists in the National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam's March on the Pentagon to protest U.S. involvement in Vietnam. Seventeen-year-old Kasmir was shown clasping a chrysanthemum and gazing at bayonet-wielding soldiers. The photo was featured in the December 30, 1969 special edition of Look magazine under the title The Ultimate Confrontation: The Flower and the Bayonet. The photo was republished world-wide and became a symbol of the flower power movement. Smithsonian Magazine later called it "a gauzy juxtaposition of armed force and flower child innocence".

<i>The Love-Ins</i> 1967 film by Arthur Dreifuss

The Love-Ins is a 1967 exploitation film about LSD that was directed by Arthur Dreifuss.

Mantra-Rock Dance 1967 counterculture music event

The Mantra-Rock Dance was a counterculture music event held on January 29, 1967, at the Avalon Ballroom in San Francisco. It was organized by followers of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) as an opportunity for its founder, A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, to address a wider public. It was also a promotional and fundraising effort for their first center on the West Coast of the United States.

<i>Flower Power</i> (photograph) photograph by Bernie Boston

Flower Power is a photograph taken by American photographer Bernie Boston for the now-defunct The Washington Star newspaper. Taken on October 21, 1967, during the National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam's "March on The Pentagon", the photo shows a Vietnam War protester placing a carnation into the barrel of a rifle held by a soldier of the 503rd Military Police Battalion.

<i>It Was Twenty Years Ago Today</i> (film) 1987 film

It Was Twenty Years Ago Today is a 1987 British-made television documentary film about the 1967 Summer of Love. It first aired on 1 June 1987, twenty years after the official release date of the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album. The documentary takes the Beatles album as the central factor behind the events and scenes that led to the full emergence of the 1960s counterculture in 1967. It was directed by John Sheppard for Granada Television. In addition to archive footage, it features interviews with key figures from the period, including Derek Taylor, who also served as consultant on the production, George Harrison, Paul McCartney, Allen Ginsberg, Abbie Hoffman and Timothy Leary. The documentary was accompanied by the book It Was Twenty Years Ago Today, written by Taylor. After its initial broadcast on the ITV network in the UK, the documentary was shown by PBS in the US on 11 November.


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Further reading