Advanced Essay #3: Two Generations and Activism

For this essay my goal was to give a better understanding to the similarities between baby boomers and millennials. I think I did best with my analyzation in the section about millennials and with the knowledge I've shown. I think this paper's weakest points is that it sometime feels more like a history paper than an English one. Although, overall I am proud of this piece.

Advanced Essay:

There is a divide between Millenials and Baby Boomers that seems to get larger as time goes on. Where does this disconnection stem from? Both generations identities were formed in a climate that was gradually becoming harsher. Baby Boomers lead the Civil Rights Movement and resisted the Vietnam War. Millennials, on the other hand, had their perspective of America become warped and were affected by the Great Recession. Baby Boomers and Millennials both spent their younger years advocating for social change, despite their differences now.

The Baby Boomer generation (born between the years 1946 to 1964) has dealt with many events that would lead to them uniting to demand change. One of these events was the Vietnam war. Many Baby Boomers opposed the war as well the draft that came along with it. In response, some Baby Boomers destroyed their draft cards to give a message to the U.S. that they did not believe in the war as well as the draft. Eventually, the cards were being damaged to the point where Lyon B. Johnson, who was the president at the time, decided to make a law against the destruction of the cards. The protests against the cards reached its climax when a young man named David Miller decided to make a public statement about the draft cards, “...he clambered up to the top of a sound truck and announced to the crowd that he believed that what the U.S. was doing in Vietnam was immoral and that he wanted to make a political statement, “so here goes.” Then, in full view of news cameras, he touched a cigarette lighter to his draft card…” Shortly after Miller was finally sent to jail in April of 1967, major protests in New York and San Francisco included organized draft-card burnings.” (Rothman) Young Baby Boomers protested changes that would negatively affect them, but no real change was present until the generation made their demands public. The Baby Boomers was starting to form an “us versus them” mindset with the “them” in this situation being the U.S. They identified as people who were against the decisions of the United States and as activists who were willing to risk comfort and safety for what they desired. They found that they needed to be their own leaders in order to attain freedom.

Millennials (born around the years 1980 to 1999) vividly remember 9/11 and were negatively impacted by the Great Recession. These two events have made them stop believing the illusions put in place by America, leaving for them to eventually have a pessimistic attitude towards their country and towards life in general. They are viewed as lazy, entitled, and anti-social by older generations and have multiple articles written about them stating the countless industries that they have destroyed. Jake Elson argues in his article Millennials and the quest for personal identity that “It should also be brought to light that what may be perceived as anti-social behaviour is actually a disinterest in a system that is perceived to be failing and most certainly does not work in their favour.” Millennials were promised much more in life than what they were given. Despite this causing them to develop a bitter view on America this also has lead to them to become activists. Millennials spend their time fighting for social change with the hope that they can improve their future as well as the future of the generations that will follow them. They have created an identity based of the idea that they do not fit under the negative narrative placed onto them. Instead, they are the caretakers of the world. A high portion of them are into activism in some shape or form even if they don’t identify as an activist. A report by Achieve and the Case Foundation states, “Millennials in our research saw “making a difference” as personally gratifying, yet they are engaging with causes in ways that redefine traditional labels. Most notably, millennials are reshaping what it means to be an activist. Though many are actively involved in causes, just slightly over half (52.5 percent) identified themselves as activists. Achieve’s research suggests millennials equate “activist” with someone who participates in protests or some similar form of publicly noticeable action...” The rise of technology and the internet has made activism easy for anyone with a laptop or phone. Millennials don’t identify as activists but do identify with the social changes they fight for. Despite their perspective on America turning sour, millennials have chosen to identify with the change they want to see in the world.

Baby Boomers and millennials both spent their younger years identifying with their activism. There is a divide between the generations that’s based on the idea that one side is too different than the other. In reality, both generations have very similar beginnings. Perhaps as both groups grow older this divide will disappear and both will realize that their identities are closer than they thought.


“See the Vietnam Draft-Card Burning That Started a Movement | Time.” Time, Accessed 8 Mar. 2018.

“‘Millennials and the Quest for Personal Identity’ | YourCommonwealth.” Your Common Wealth, Accessed 8 Mar. 2018.

“The Boomer List | Timeline of a Generation | American Masters | PBS.” PBS, Accessed 8 Mar. 2018.

“GENERATIONS TIMELINE - After The Millennials.” After The Millennials, Accessed 8 Mar. 2018.