The Stonewall riots
were a series of spontaneous, violent demonstrations against a police raid that took place in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn
, in the Greenwich Village
neighborhood of New York City
. They are frequently cited as the first instance in American history when gays
fought back against a government-sponsored system that persecuted homosexuals, and they have become the defining event that marked the start of the gay rights movement
in the United States and around the world. The Stonewall Inn, at the time, was owned by the Mafia
. It catered to an assortment of patrons, but it was known to be popular with the most marginalized people in the gay community: transvestites
, effeminate young men, hustlers
, and homeless youth. Police raids on gay bars were routine in the 1960s, but officers quickly lost control of the situation at the Stonewall Inn, and attracted a crowd that was incited to riot
. Tensions between New York City police
and gay residents of Greenwich Village erupted into more protests the next evening, and again several nights later. Within six months, two gay activist organizations were formed in New York, concentrating on confrontational tactics, and three newspapers were established to promote rights for gays and lesbians. Within a few years, gay rights organizations were founded across the U.S. and the world. Today Gay Pride events are held annually throughout the world toward the end of June to mark the Stonewall riots.
Credit: Photo: Rowland Scherman, USIA
American folk singers Joan Baez and Bob Dylan, performing a duet at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963. Both were relatively new recording artists at the time, with Baez being at the forefront of American roots revival and Dylan having just released his second album. Baez was especially influential in introducing audiences to Dylan's music by recording several of his early songs and inviting him onstage during her own concerts.