The Power of the Flower

The Power of the Flower

Flower power was a term that originated in Berkely, California and was used during the late 1960s and 1970s as a symbol of passive resistance to the Vietnam War, a stand against violence, and a way to change the Vietnam War protests into peaceful demonstrations.

In 1965, Allen Ginsburg, an American Beat poet and anti-war advocate, wrote an essay titled How to Make a March/Spectacle that encouraged protesters to carry flowers to hand out to policemen, press people, politicians and spectators as a non-violent method of protest. Using Ginsberg’s ideas, the protests were more peaceful and positive. The use of the term “flower power” became an iconic, cultural symbol. By late 1966, the Flower Power slogan and method had spread from California to other parts of the United States. Protests included handing out flowers, balloons, flags, signs saying “Love”, and anti-war literature etc.

The hippie subculture began in the early sixties. Named from the original word Hipsters, the hippies developed as a youth movement influenced by the American involvement in Vietnam and the Beat Generation. They adopted the Flower Power slogan and methods. They rebelled against their parents’ ways, and followed new innovations in values, music, food, and fashion.

The hippies of the 1960s incorporated the message of peaceful protesting into their fashions and culture. Men and women wore their hair long and decorated with flowers, either individual flowers or floral hair bands. Flower power clothing featured brightly colored florals, swirling patterns, psychedelic colors, and peace signs. The fashions included floral dresses with loose silhouettes, tiered and maxi skirts, kaftans, tie-dyed shirts, and flared jeans. Hippie dress was meant to look as free and easy as the people wearing it. 

There is no definite date as to the exact end of the Flower Power movement.  But it seems to have faded in the early seventies because of the end of the military draft in 1972 and the beginning of the withdrawal of American soldiers from Vietnam in January of 1973. There were also hippies who may have no longer wanted to continue the life style of alcohol, drugs, and other freedoms they had been following. Or maybe they just decided they were growing up and it was time to move on and pursue a career in their parents’ “real world”.  Whatever the reason, the Flower Power and hippie movements have had a long and lasting impact on our American culture.

(*All photos were found on Pinterest)

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