. . . or click on the link here for Audio Player – NBC News – 1969: The Year Of The Mayors – Dec. 28, 1969 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection.
For all that was positive and revolutionary about the 60s, the underlying problems, the discontent, the upheaval and the rage were tearing society apart. And it took an off-year election to bring those problems home.
1969, dubbed in this documentary The Year Of The Mayors, was a pivotal year in the urban political landscape of America. It was a year many Mayors of major cities throughout the country were up for re-election. And the elections cast a magnifying glass on just what was wrong with the picture of The Great Society.
Race was a huge issue. The civil rights movement brought to the surface just how all-pervasive racism was in America. From jobs and education to Police interactions on the street, the chasm between Black and White in the average urban setting was getting wider, the inequality more pronounced, the solution getting further and further away.
And there was the backlash, more prevalent in 1969 than perhaps the days of Montgomery and Selma – because those issues were just as apparent in the North as they were in the South. The racial disconnect was just as distinct in Los Angeles as it was in Biloxi. The Mayoral race between Tom Bradley, the first Black candidate for Mayor of Los Angeles and incumbent Sam Yorty, a law-and-order advocate, made abundantly clear just how divided people were over the race issue, even in seemingly laid-back L.A.
So this documentary tries to examine the issues and the results which made 1969 an important year. We tend to focus on 1969 as the year of the Moon landing and Woodstock. But it was much more complex and harrowing. It was a year of considerable discontent and anger.
45 years later, those issues continue. Still left unsolved – seemingly further and further away from a solution than ever before.
Here is that one-hour wrap-up for 1969, The Year of The Mayors, as broadcast on December 28, 1969.