Segment descriptions

Politics & Society in
     20th Century America
Activist 60s, Part 1

         Description: 60s 3

Activist 60s, Part 1  
sampler  2-16    (72 lecture).

How does TV inter into the JFK-Nixon presidential campaign in a fundamental way?

                 play sampler




Echoes from the Fifties



America is dominant world economy.    Red scare continues. Fears are real but based on demagoguery.   Growth of suburbs, the dream of the middle class.  Relative prosperity prompted by Cold War spending.  G I. Bill, homes, jobs, baby boom. 



Suburbia & decline of cities.  Racial divide as whites leave the cities, leading to riots and upheavals.  The Sacco-Venzetti case reflects issues of immigrants and anti-radicalism.


Blandness of the 50s.  Conformity in appearance, dress, entertainment, avoidance of social issues, as effect of Red Scare..  Birth of rock & roll as undercurrent of rebellion.  Prevalence of autos after expansion of highways



The Eisenhower presidency.  A national hero.  After election, resolves Korean stalemate.  Continues Cold War atmosphere but extreme elements reduced.  Moves to restrain military budget, warns in farewell speech the the military-industrial complex is a threat to American democracy.  Technology advances.  Conquest of polio, TV, relatively prosperous Cold War economy.




Movements of The Sixties



1960s Shock of change.  Nixon, epitome of the Cold War warrior loses election to John Kennedy in 1960.  The role of TV and the visual image in the political world.  Distinguishing image from accomplishment, looking back as far as Teddy Roosevelt.  .


JFKs charisma.  JFK's charisma.  Inspires youth to join the Peace Corp and to enter public service. 


Accomplishments.  The missile gap lie.  The escalation of the Vietnam War.  Domestically, he signs bill to end discrimination in federally subsidized housing in the future, not existing housing.




Early civil rights movement




Impact of WWII on jobs.  Jobs previously not open to millions of blacks who had moved north, are now open to them because of war production boom.  After the war they want to keep these jobs gained.


School desegregation.  1954 Supreme Court decision Brown vs Topeka Board of Education overturns 1896 Plessy vs Ferguson decision of separate but equal education for blacks and whites.  Efforts to desegregate against resistance in South.  President Eisenhower enforces the court order.



Sports.  Basketball.  The need for black athletes for athletic success.




Emmett Till case, 1950.  This 14 year old visits relative in Mississippi, is kidnapped and killed after being accused of whistling at a white woman.  The nation is shocked, becomes impetus to civil rights movement.




Full-blown civil rights movement in the 1960s.  NAACP led by Roy Wilkins, emphasizing court action.  Martin Luther King, Jr.  The role of the black preacher as overall leader back to time of slavery.  Promotes non-violent resistance.  Rosa Parks.  Sparks bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama, resulting in integration of bus service. 


Freedom Summer.  Voting registration.  Blacks disenfranchised by obstacles to voting registration since the early 20th century.  Goodman, Shwerner and Chaney, 2 whites and 1 black, Northern volunteers to promote black voter registration in the South, are found murdered, shocking the nation into further civil rights action.


Political responses.  JFKs approach to the civil rights movement contrasts sharply with that of his brother, Robert.  Lyndon Johnson becomes president after JFK's assassination, makes major push for civil rights legislation.  The role of the church.  The great variety of approaches, their accomplishments and failures, but also often their dark sides.  How Johnson's Great Society is set back by Vietnam War.




Public responses.  Many unarmed, forgotten people, black and white, North and South, at great risk and with great courage, are part of this modern civil rights movement.  The role of churches.  Mixed results in North and South.  Martin Luther Kings charisma and moral authority.




Nation of Islam.  Founded by Elijah Mohammad.  Conversion of blacks to Islam.  American slavery condoned by while Christian ministers at the time.  Black Nationalism, separation of races preached.