THE SAN FRANCISCO SCENE, 1967
Why did nearly 100,000 young people descend upon San Francisco in 1967 for a “Summer of Love"?
Hippies despise phoniness; they want to be open, honest, loving and free. They reject the plastic pretense of 20th-century America, preferring to go back to the “natural life,” like Adam and Eve.
-- Hunter S. Thompson, “The ‘Hashbury’ is the Capital of the Hippies," May 1967
During the summer of 1967, nearly 100,000 young people descended on the city of San Francisco for what became known as the “Summer of Love.” Similar pilgrimages and celebrations occurred in cities across the United States, but San Francisco is where the “hippie” movement reached its zenith. The bywords of the era – love, creativity, experimentation – served to define the ideals of the immense crowds drawn to the neighborhood known as Haight-Ashbury. These youths, many college educated, came to experience not only a new way of living, but also the music scene that led the charge against the “Establishment.”
Priding themselves on self-expression, the hippies took a markedly free attitude toward matters of love, art, fashion, and illicit drugs. Experimentation was crucial to the counterculture, and it was frequently evidenced in performances of the bands most associated with the Haight-Ashbury scene. Local artists such as the Grateful Dead, the Jefferson Airplane, and Quicksilver Messenger Service incorporated an emphasis on extended instrumental improvisations, or “jams.” Other artistic elements included the influence of Eastern musical traditions and live performances that were heavily amplified and featured swirling light shows.
In this lesson, students will examine the different aspects of the San Francisco scene that made it such an important gathering place for the burgeoning hippie movement. Through a series of documents and videos, they will learn about the anti-capitalist movement of the Diggers, the central role of popular music, the lure of psychedelic art, and the psychology of mass gatherings such as the “Human Be-In” and the Monterey Pop Festival.
Instructors should be aware that this lesson includes some discussion of the role of illegal drugs, particularly LSD, in the San Francisco scene of 1967.
Upon completion of this lesson, students will:
1. Explain to students that in this lesson they will investigate the motivations of the thousands of young people who flocked to San Francisco in the summer of 1967.
2. Display the map of California on the board, making sure students locate San Francisco, Berkeley, and Monterey.
3. Display the picture of the corner of Haight and Ashbury Streets and discuss briefly:
5. You can either split students up into groups, instructing each group to analyze the documents and discuss them using the questions on the handout as a guide, or you can complete these activities as a class. Either way, in connection with Document 4, on the Monterey Pop Festival, at the appropriate time play for the students the video trailer for the documentary Monterey Pop.
Reconvene the class as whole if they've split up into groups, and discuss these questions:
Assign students to write a letter in the voice of a young person who has left his or her hometown for San Francisco in the summer of 1967 and is writing to a friend back home about what he or she has done and seen there. The letter should reference specific events and/or other aspects of the Summer of Love described in the document set.
1. Research and write a report on the Haight-Ashbury Free Clinic, started by Dr. David Smith, a 1964 graduate of University of San Francisco Medical School, who founded the clinic to provide free medical care and treatment for drug addicts and others who came to San Francisco during the Summer of Love.
2. Research and write a report on the life of Emmett Grogan, the founder of the Diggers, a radical group of actors, artists, and performers based in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury neighborhood, who opened “free stores” and helped organize the “Human Be-In.”
College and Career Readiness Reading Anchor Standards for Grades 6-12 for Literature and Informational Text
College and Career Readiness Writing Anchor Standards for Grades 6-12 in English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science and Technical Subjects
College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Speaking and Listening for Grades 6-12
Speaking and Listening 1: Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
Speaking and Listening 4: Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
Speaking and Listening 6: Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and communicative tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.
Core Music Standard: Responding
Analyze: Analyze how the structure and context of varied musical works inform the response.
Interpret: Support interpretations of musical works that reflect creators' and/or performers' expressive intent.
Evaluate: Support evaluations of musical works and performances based on analysis, interpretation, and established criteria.
Core Music Standard: Connecting
Connecting 11: Relate musical ideas and works to varied contexts and daily life to deepen understanding.