The cultural and conceptual upheavals of the 1960s were undoubtedly forms of protest against a perception about the 'way things are'. The democratic impulses which ignited the protest movements of the period echoed the impulses which had given shape and substance to the American experiment from the beginning. The American dream proved to be a nightmare for many embedded in the social systems of inequalities. Wealth may have been more widely distributed but there still remained large pockets of Americans who remained well below the poverty line. The mythology of the melting pot in American history both exploded and imploded in the 1960s giving rise to central ambiguities in the decades ahead. Diverse people groups on the margins in American history gained a hearing in the revolutionary decade, but did so in large measure by asserting a distinctive identity that would not be assimilated into the melting pot.