From the Archives
Today, in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., we bring you Catherine Wagley’s review of the exhibition After 1968: Contemporary Artists and the Civil Rights Legacy. Following the author’s analysis of generational differences in attitudes towards protesting, it’s clear that although the featured artists came of age in a world devoid of Dr. King, the impact of his life’s work nonetheless resounded powerfully. This article was originally published on February 25, 2010.L.A. Expanded: Notes from the West Coast
A weekly column by Catherine Wagley
The Pew Research Center caused a stir this week when it released a study portraying the Millennials, those who came of age during the first decade of the 21st Century, as the most even-tempered generation in recent history. Unlike the Baby Boomers and Gen X-ers, the Millennials have sidestepped almost all reactionary impulses. “They look at themselves and they say, ‘Our generation is quite different than our parents’ generation.’ But they don’t say it with any rancor,” Pew president Andrew Kohut told NPR’s Robert Siegel. “The only thing they criticize the older generation for is their lack of tolerance.”
This sounds suspiciously rosy, even toothless, as though, by some accident of history, a whole generation of nonjudgmental diplomats emerged at the exact moment the U.S. entered Iraq. But the Pew study has more bite to it than Kohut suggests. Refusing the spectacle of rebellion that your parents’ generation reveled in is another way of breaking history’s patterns.