When Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper stood on stage at Civic Center Park yesterday and said that it would have been John Lennon’s 68th birthday, it got to me.

When Lennon was murdered by Mark David Chapman in December 1980, I was probably studying for finals. It was my first semester in college. I remember that month for personal reasons I won’t go into here, not for events on the world stage.

But as I get older, the people we’ve lost to murder matter more to me: the Kennedys, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, John Lennon, the four little girls, Medgar Evers, Schwerner, Goodman, and Cheney. I wonder what they would be doing in the world today. Would things be any different?

For that reason I was angered by a woman talking on her cell phone about the “hippy-dippy” event that was the Imagine Peace Paint-In on Lennon’s birthday in Denver. (As far as I can tell from the website, it was a Denver event.)

Does she have any idea how stupid she sounded? Probably not.

I don’t understand the continuing contempt for the 1960s. I was just a little girl then, so all the turmoil passed me by; it’s something I read about in history books. But it sounds like an amazing time—I wish I could go back and experience it. I think much of the 1960s was about this:

“There is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is nececessary for growth.”
—Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from a Birmingham Jail

I think we’ve lost the art of that.

Below are some pictures from the event. I hope you enjoy them.

Leave A Comment

  1. steph October 10, 2008 at 8:56 pm - Reply

    I wasn’t born til the 70s, but what I love and admire about the 60s was all the free thinking, the independent thought, the challenging of popular conception. I wish more people would question and think for themselves these days.

  2. Beth Partin October 10, 2008 at 9:00 pm - Reply

    Yes, that would be nice. Maybe we tell ourselves we don’t have the time anymore?

  3. BernardL October 11, 2008 at 7:36 am - Reply

    Culture shock would be how I’d describe my glimpse of the sixties. In Ohio, the only part of the sixties we experienced was the music. After high school, two buddies and I took off in my old Renault for the West Coast in the summer of 1968. The bad sixties’ aspect of walking into the ‘head’ shops in San Francisco was the number of teens sitting around so wasted they looked as if they were zombies. We traveled down the coast all the way to San Diego after a brief period painting apartments in LA due to running low on money. We Ohio boys were sure a bunch of rubes gawking at the big cities back then. 🙂

  4. Beth Partin October 11, 2008 at 10:25 am - Reply

    Bernard, your road trip sounds fun. That’s pretty much how I was when I got to Georgetown University; it seemed like I was gawking for a while when I first got there. Not that in 1980 it was anything like the 1960s…they only let women attend in 1970.

    I kind of wish I had seen things like the head shops, not that I really wanted to be like one of those people you saw. I know there were drugs before the 1960s–I can’t remember when marijuana was criminalized, but it was in the early twentieth century–but the perception is that so many more people started using them in the 1960s. I wonder if the numbers were that different, or if it was just done more prominently, out in the open.

  5. BruceQ October 11, 2008 at 2:14 pm - Reply

    Yeah, I really miss John. No question in my mind, the world would be better if he was still here. Thanks for the photos, and the great article.

    I also miss Martin, John and Bobby, Malcom, … and the four kids killed at Kent State on May 4, 1970.

    Which brings me to my point: We know the name of the loser who murdered John Lennon, but we don’t know the names of the victims of one of the darkest moments in our history. (We do, of course, thanks to the Internet, they are Allison Krause, Jeffrey Miller, Sandra Scheuer, and William Schroeder, but I had to look that up.)

    We make celebrities of our murderers and monsters by the simple act of publishing their names. Repeatedly. I think we should stop doing that. Yes, it’s important to remember that John Lennon was murdered, but it does nothing for us to mention the killer’s name. Nothing, that is, but give the sick little bastard exactly what he wanted.

    This isn’t a blast at you, Beth, I respect and appreciate your writing, and I love your passion for Denver and Colorado. You just had the misfortune of tripping over one of my biggest issues with “the media.” I just throw this out there as something to be considered.

  6. Beth October 12, 2008 at 8:45 am - Reply

    BruceQ, you make a good point. We should be mentioning the names of those we miss and love, not focusing so much on the negative.

  7. Rita October 22, 2008 at 1:42 pm - Reply

    This post stopped me short. Around a month ago, I posted on Chapman and Lennon, and started the post with the words from Chapman’s confession. I was a Senior in College, and we all poured into our cars, and drove from Massachusetts straight to the Dakota. (I’m a life-time New Yawker.) I wrote about growing up in the era of “this is a special report” constantly on the TV.
    The 60’s/early ’70’s were a tumultuous time to grow up in. We watched “the VietNam show” during dinner. Our neighbor’s sons went away – some didn’t come back – the ones that did were dead inside.
    I was born the day JFK was elected president. The 60’s wasn’t just hippies and drugs. It was little girls like me, the Baby-Boom-enders as well. And it was DAMN scary being a kid then.
    I wasn’t “glorifying” Chapman by using his words…I used them so that people who DIDN’T grow up in the ’60’s would understand what we heard way too often as children: the names of the murdered, and the names of the murderers.
    I understand Bruce’s point…but you kinda had to be there…and I WAS there that night at the Dakota. It was a night of sadness, and a night of tribute to only one person: John Lennon.


  8. Beth Partin October 22, 2008 at 1:53 pm - Reply

    Rita, thanks for that perspective.

    I was born in 1962, and I don’t remember being scared in the 1960s. Maybe it was the difference between growing up in Midwestern suburbia and in New York.

    Can you send me a link to that post?