Tuesday 23 October 2018

Happy birthday, you legends!

Those turning 50 in 2018 were born in a year that changed the world

Mary Kenny, writer and author. Photo: Tony Gavin
Mary Kenny, writer and author. Photo: Tony Gavin
Mary Kenny

Mary Kenny

Those due to celebrate their 50th birthday in 2018 may enjoy contemplating the fascinating year in which they were born: the legendary 1968. This is 'the year that rocked history', in the words of one of its many biographers.

The French even have a word for those defined by 1968 - 'soixante-huitard', though admittedly it has a mixed implication, of either radical revolutionary or old hippy who doesn't grasp that everything has moved on. The glorious revolution predicted by those dazzling slogans postered up in the streets of Paris and elsewhere - "Power to the Imagination!" "Underneath the pavement, the beach!" - hasn't always matched the stubborn realities of life.

But 1968 was a seedbed of modern politics, and for contemporary lifestyles: the hippies of yesteryear begat the hipsters of Silicon Valley who indeed revolutionised the world with the laptop computer and the iPhone. Sixty-eight saw the emergence of the Civil Rights movement both in the United States and Northern Ireland: the October march in Derry organised by Eamonn McCann and banned by William Craig was what launched the events that would change the North forever. And in the US, the assassination of Martin Luther King made the black preacher a martyr to the cause of African-Americans (who, until 1968, were called 'negroes'.)

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