Woodstock, three days of peace and love began on August 15, 1969, and here I am fifty years later pondering what it all meant to me and to our culture. There’s a new documentary, Woodstock, that I’ll watch in its entirety, but that I saw just a few minutes of last night. Some of the opening lines got me thinking. Over vintage footage of the event you hear the voices of people who had been there reminiscing:
As we got closer, there’d be people walking on foot, like pilgrims. It looked like a pilgrimage.
¨ We weren’t looking for answers; we were looking for other people that felt the same way that we did.
¨ If 400,000 people could get together and have absolutely no violence, absolutely no conflict, then I felt like if we could bring that love back into society that we could change the world.
Even as a little girl two weeks shy of my 12th birthday, I felt the call of Woodstock, the intensity of the emotion and vision of the generation and the movements that gave birth to that event. Three years later at 15, I was completely unaware of the Wattstax concert that brought 72,000 people, predominately African American, to the Los Angeles Coliseum on August 20, 1972. And, it was a few years after that, when I was closer to 18, before I heard of the American Indian Movement even though all of these movements, along with the Women’s Movement, had all been raising their voices, challenging the establishment and disturbing the peace of the status quo for years.
So here I am now, two weeks shy of my 62nd birthday, and taking another look (in many ways, a first look) at that time and the movements that were afoot then. On our radio station, RadioFreeDNC, we’ve created four days of programming to celebrate the spirit of Woodstock/Wattstax. I’ve added the voices and music of Native Americans to my playlists; their voices were just as powerful as the others seeking change at that time even though we didn’t hear them on Top 40 radio.
Here we are fifty years later and so many of the voices and visions, ideas and ideals, so much of the mysticism and the music, has been lost in the consumerism, decadence, violence and ignorance of our present age. 400,000 people experienced the three days of peace and love at Woodstock … why didn’t they bring all of that back to society and change the world? Why don’t we?