Flower Power Celebs: A Look Back At The Baby Boomer Generation

Famous beat poet Alan Ginsberg once wrote protests should have, “masses of flowers.” Public opinion was turning against the Vietnam War, but anti-war gatherings were doing nothing. Suddenly flowers were everywhere. Ginsberg offered the baby boomer generation a fresh alternative to repetitive, and sometimes violent protesting.

Celebrities embraced the movement too, making “flower power”a national phenomenon. Here’s a look back at some of the celebrities you didn’t know joined the movement to make a difference!

Jane Fonda Led The Anti-Vietnam Charge

Jane Fonda Led The Anti-Vietnam Charge

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In the 1970s, Jane Fonda was as well known for her flower activism as her film and television roles. She spent the early part of the decade touring universities and military towns speaking out against the Vietnam War. She even visited North Vietnam to denounce U.S. involvement in the war.

Explaining her passionate actions, Fonda said, “I was infuriated as I learned just how much our soldiers were being lied to about why we were fighting in Vietnam.” The only thing Fonda regrets about her action is a controversial photograph taken of her sitting behind an anti-aircraft gun. Stick around to remember the most famous “bed-in” from the era.

John Lennon And Yoko Ono’s “Bed-In”

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John Lennon and Yoko Ono took sit-ins to the next level with their 1969 “bed-in” in Canada. Using their marriage to promote world peace, the couple stayed together in their bed in Montreal for one week. Hanging on their window were signs reading, “Hair Peace,” and “Bed Peace.”

While in bed together, Lennon and Ono recorded the song, “Give Peace a Chance.” An image of them laying in bed together has become iconic as a representation of the late 1960s peace movement.

Jim Hendrix Got Patriotic At Woodstock

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Jimi Hendrix was the last artist to perform at Woodstock. Several delays pushed his performance from late at night to nine the next morning. He performed for two hours in front of 30,000 fans. His most memorable moment came when he played the “Star Spangled Banner,” putting a psychedelic twist on the patriotic ballad.

Woodstock was expected to be chaos. It peaked with an estimated attendance of 400,000. Surprisingly, the festival proved peaceful. There were even a few babies born there! Next, Joan Baez finds herself in handcuffs for her activism.

Joan Baez Was Arrested For Protesting Vietnam

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Joan Baez became the face of a peaceful protest in Oakland in 1976 when she was taken into custody. Baez, along with 250 other protestors, gathered for a sit-in at a military induction center. Together, the group formed a human barricade to prevent draftees from entering.

She became the voice of the group and was one of the first prople to be arrested. Along with her, 40 other protestors were put in handcuffs. Thankfully, her run-in with the law didn’t stop her from continuing to fight for what she believed was right. In the decades since she became an advocate for LGBT rights and protested the invasion of Iraq.

Muhammad Ali Refused To Be Drafted And It Nearly Ended His Career

Muhammad Ali Refused To Be Drafted And It Nearly Ended His Career

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Early in his career, boxing legend Muhammad Ali was drafted to help fight the Vietnam War. In protest, he refused and was suspended from boxing for the next four years. The suspension crippled him, “I am not allowed to work in America, and I’m not allowed to leave America.”

Having no career was more important to Ali than fighting a war he didn’t believe in. He wasn’t alone, though. Martin Luther King opposed the war and quoted Ali about why, “we are all — black and brown and poor — victims of the same system of oppression.” Coming up, do you know what the song, “What’s Going On?” is really about?

Marvin Gaye Wrote “What’s Going On” About The War

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Did you know the song “What’s Going On?” was almost never released. The track was written by Obie Benson for The Four Tops. They were uninterested in the protest song, though. Gaye latched onto the song after hearing about the experience his younger brother Frankie was having fighting in Vietnam.

Of course, one of the most famous protest songs of the anti-war movement needed more than Gaye to make it on the radio. Berry Gordon, the head of Motown, only released “the worst thing I’ve ever heard in my life” because they needed new music from Gaye.

Phil Ochs Preferred To Be Called A Topical Singer

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Gaining fame as a liberal folk singer during the Vietnam War, Phil Ochs preferred to be called topical. One of his first notable songs was the anti-war anthem “I Ain’t Marching No More.” Known more for his lyrics than craftsmanship, he was a vocal pacificist who was overcome with depression over societies violence.

In 1976, Phil Ochs committed suicide. The war had taken everything from him, and he had no creative juices left. A leader of the “Flower Power” revolution, Ochs may be gone, but his legacy remains thanks to songs like, “Cross My Heart, I Hope To Live,” and “Nobody Buys From The Flower Lady.” Up next, going back to where it all began with Bob Dylan and Allen Ginsberg!

Bob Dylan Inspired Allen Ginsberg

Bob Dylan Inspired Allen Ginsberg

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When Allen Ginsberg heard the ballad, ‘A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall” by Bob Dylan, he knew the socio-political movement of the time was about to take a step forward. He believed the “torch had been passed” from one generation to the next as he listened to Dylan’s questioning of political ethics.

Rolling Stone praised Dylan for grappling with the “end of days.” Dylan would go on to be a voice for just about every liberal movement during the “Flower Power” era. From Cold War fears and equal rights to the Vietnam War, few celebrity activists on this list encompass so many trends of the time.

Dennis Hopper Directed Easy Rider

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Screen legend Dennis Hopper put his politics on display when he directed the counter-culture classic Easy Rider in 1969. The film follows two bikers as they go from Los Angeles to New Orleans and discover some truths about society along the way.

Easy Rider became the third highest grossing film of 1969 and helped kickstart “New Hollywood.” Along with Bonnie and Clyde and The Graduate, the film industry gave voice to the angry and confused youth in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Easy Rider, in particular, upset the establishment and received harsh criticism from Vice President Spiro Agnew. Of course, Hopper wasn’t the only celebrity criticized by the government.

Eartha Kitt Took The Flower Power Fight To The White House

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Earth Kitt had no time for niceties when she attended a luncheon with Ladybird Johnson in 1968. Sitting in a room full of powerful women, they were supposed to talk about the nation’s juvenile delinquency problem. Instead, they talked about flowers.

When Kitt spoke, she turned attention back to where it belonged,”they don’t want to go to school because they’re going to be snatched off from their mothers to be shot in Vietnam.” Kitt became an example of political disobedience and was blackballed from the industry. She would not find success for the next decade.