Human Be-In

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The 'Human Be-In' was an event during the afternoon and evening of January 14, 1967. It was held in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. The Human Be-In caused the Summer of Love, which introduced hippie life and the word psychedelic to everyday Americans, and made the Haight-Ashbury area of San Francisco famous because it was the center of an American counterculture.

The hippie movement had two main sources. One source was college students who were not happy about the way the country was headed. They did not like the way African Americans were being treated in the South or the way young men were being drafted to fight in the Vietnam War. The other source of the hippie movement was the 'Beat Generation' (poets and jazz hipsters).

Throughout the early 1960s, college students who were against the policies of segregation in Southern United States would travel to the south. They would take part in sit-ins, register African Americans to vote, demonstrate, march, and other activism. More and more people were unhappy about the Vietnam War and the riots. During this time, San Francisco was becoming a center for younger people who liked to experiment with drugs, and it was also a center for the music scene. From the idea of the 'sit-in', they got the idea to have a 'Human Be-In' in early January to get people's minds off politics and the war.

The Human Be-In was announced on the cover of the first issue of the San Francisco Oracle as "A Gathering of the Tribes for a Human Be-In". Speakers at the rally included Timothy Leary, Richard Alpert (soon to be more widely known as 'Ram Dass'), and poets like Allen Ginsberg, who chanted mantras, and Gary Snyder. Leary set the tone that afternoon with his famous phrase "Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out". Other counterculture leaders who were there included comedian Dick Gregory, Lenore Kandel, and Jerry Rubin. The Hells Angels, at the peak of their 'outlaw' reputation, looked after lost children. Local rock bands such as Grateful Dead and Quicksilver Messenger Service provided the music, and Owsley "Bear" Stanley provided massive amounts of his "White Lightning" LSD to the gathered masses.

The national media did not know what to say. No one was able to agree whether 20,000 or 30,000 people showed up. Soon every gathering was being called an '-In' of some kind. Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, a television comedy series, began to appear on NBC just a year later, January 22, 1968.

During 1967, more and more young people from around the country began traveling to San Francisco. By the summer there were between 100,000 to 200,000 there taking part in the "Summer of Love".

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