“Flower Power” was a popular term used in the 1960s and 1970s, a time of change throughout the United States. From protests against the war to protests demanding equal rights for every citizen, the 1960s were a tumultuous yet interesting time in American history for social change. Some protestors during this era were dubbed as “hippies” short for the term “hipsters.”
Coined in 1965 by acclaimed poet and voice of his generation Allen Ginsberg, “flower power” was used to inspire a movement in which anti-war demonstrators focused on positive values such as peace and love to instead of brute force and rebellion in order to “fight” for freedom. The concept first came to being while Ginsberg helped organize a protest against the Vietnam War in Berkeley, California. In his essay “Demonstration or Spectacle as Example, As Communication,” he describes a tactic using peace as a “weapon.” He suggests “masses of flowers – a visual spectacle – especially concentrated on the front lines.” He continued, “…marchers should bring harmonicas, flutes, recorders, guitars, banjos, and violins.” He went on to invite all previously persecuted groups to join the revolution, turning the phrase into a movement of peace, hope, unity, and above all – imagination.
The “Flower” in Flower Power
The hippies of the 1960s and 1970s took Ginsberg’s message of peaceful protesting and incorporated it into their fashions and culture. Both men and women wore flowers from on their clothing to in their hair. Flowers in their hair ranged from floral head wreaths to slipping a single a dandelion into their groovy headbands (a trend that has resurfaced in fashion today). Bright, floral prints became extremely popular as did floral inspired patches. Some hippies even painted the flower symbol on their faces to show their support and dedication to the cause. With its natural and simplistic beauty, it’s not surprising that the flower became the ultimate symbol of peace and love for this counterculture and era!