After reading and analyzing the images featured in Alan Taylor’s piece 50 Years Ago in Photos: A Look Back at 1968, I stepped back with a sense of sudden enlightenment. I already had an understanding of world history during the 1960’s prior to reading this article. Due to this, I assumed I would only be seeing events that I already had knowledge of.
Oh, how wrong I turned out to be.
Not only did Taylor’s article cover the major events most Americans think of when one mentions the 60’s (How could we forget about the Vietnam War or Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination?), but he also mentioned events that we have either forgotten about or worse– never even heard of.
For instance, I was totally unaware of the protests that took place in Paris and Rio de Janiro. Seeing the images of college students being chased by police officers– who were mounted on horses and attacking them, reminded me of the Tiananmen Square Massacre.
It is important to note that the Tiananmen Square Massacre did not take place until decades after the protests mentioned in the article. This is because these events show a pattern. Better yet, they show how history repeats itself. Why were the students protesting in Paris and Rio de Janiro? Why were the students protesting in Tiananmen Square? Why are students protesting today?
Across every time period in human development, we can see how people (especially young adults) have unified for a common cause. Usually, we see working class and young people leading society towards progress through demonstrations that disrupt the existing oppressive institution.
I hope to be a part of one of these disruptions some day in my lifetime. Maybe in a few decades, someone will write a piece similar to Taylor’s and I will be able to point at myself in one of the images.