7 Reasons Why The 70’s Were Totally Boss

September 14, 2011  |  
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A while back we asked people if they could have lived in any other decade which one would it be. Many of them agreed that the ’70s were the ideal decade. The ’70s certainly free of problems. There was Nixon’s Watergate, the uprising in Soweto and much of the world was suffering from a recession due to an oil crisis. (The more things change, the more they stay the same.) But all that to the side, the ’70s were an exceptionally great decade, especially when it came to black people- in the United States and abroad. I recently saw a screening of Thundersoul, a documentary about an all black stage band. The members of the band, who reached unprecedented success in the ’70s, described the decade in a sort of magical nostalgia that provoked a sense of disappointment at not having been born early enough to experience this wonder decade. Having just caught the tail end of the ’90s, I can only reflect on the awesomeness of the 1970s.

1. The Music

If you know anything about music, you know the ’70s were a golden era when it came to music. Whether it was Funk, Soul,  Jazz or R&B (Motown anyone?) music was consistently taking innovative strides, creating sounds no one had heard in the decades before. This is back in the day when artists played their own music with actual instruments and voices weren’t aided with the presence of auto-tune. While there was no shortage of raunch in the songs of the day, it wasn’t hard to find a message of substance.

2. The Fashion

Bold patterns, flaired pants and shoes that would sprain your ankle if you stepped the wrong way were staples of ’70’s fashion. With colors influenced heavily by the hippie ’60s, the ’70s were about being bold and being seen. Coolness reigned supreme in the 70s and if you wanted to be down with the get down your clothes could get you half way there.

3. The Hope

One of the more poignant points in the “Thundersoul” documentary was the fact that the general zeitgeist of the ’70s was that the young people had been equipped with the tools to succeed in this country. Fresh from the Civil Rights era, children knew what their parents and grandparents had sacrificed in the name of progress. College enrollment for blacks and other minorities began increasing in 1976. People were optimistic about the conditions of blacks in America but had yet to become complacent or apathetic about the opportunities available.

4. The Hair

In the spirit of Black Pride, women and men did away with the perms, the texturizers and even the hot comb as men and women took pride in sporting their natural hair, particularly blown out afros. My mother in particular spoke of how achieving the fullest, roundest, shiniest afro became not only a chore but a necessity.

5. Blaxploitation Films

While some argue about whether blaxploitation films perpetuated negative stereotypes of the African American community, the impact these films left on the decade can’t be denied. Blaxploitation films readied the American palette for other films featuring predominately black casts. Not only did the success of these movies convince Hollywood that black movies could make money, it showed black communities pictures of themselves. Blaxploitation films featured some of the first black love scenes in theaters.

6. Women’s Turn

After the death of powerful Civil Rights leaders like Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, many people expressed that it was time for black women to take an active stand in continuing the Civil Rights movement. Coretta Scott King naturally took the forefront, even pressing the issue of Women’s Liberation.

7. The Pride

In case you haven’t noticed this theme, the Black Power sentiment reached its peak in the ’70s. Often viewed as a militant counterculture, Black Power was about creating economic opportunities for black people around the world and providing information about the accomplishments of blacks, hoping the increased knowledge would foster feelings of pride and self respect.

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