A Single American Nation.
When the First World War began, African-American leaders pressed the government to provide black men the right to go to combat to prove their devotion to their country. Hoping that their service would lay a stake on citizenship which the nation would have no choice but to honor, the “New Negro” of the 1920s adopted a more militant stance toward civil rights. The civil rights struggle envisioned at the time, however, made few concrete gains. Discrimination and disenfranchisement persisted.
African-American leaders responded to the Second World War much as they had to the First, offering their services while expecting recognition in return. They intended to fight a “Double-V Campaign” against fascism abroad and racism at home. They helped to kill fascism abroad; racist policies at home survived, but only for a time. Less than a decade after the war ended, the Brown case struck down the principle of “separate but equal” in schools. A grass-roots movement emerged to challenge discrimination elsewhere. By 1965, nonviolent means had murdered Jim Crow. Yet, the 60s were nothing if not a violent decade, marred by war, riots, and assassinations. By the end of the decade, Americans were as divided in some ways as they had ever been, and hopes for integration into a single American nation largely gave way to an emphasis on the unique needs and interests of different groups within the nation.
Chart the progress of the Civil Rights Movement from 1954 to 1965. Identifying specific events from that period, explain why the movement succeeded so well during this period when similar struggles had gained so little in previous decades. Compare and contrast the different approaches to gaining civil rights adopted by different leaders in this period, those of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, for instance. Finally, explain why the Civil Rights Movement splintered at the end of the decade by discussing at least TWO of the following groups, drawing from the primary sources below:
a. Native Americans
c. The Black Power movement
Summarize your response by considering the following questions:
a. What precisely did the Civil Right Movement gain?
b. What objectives did it fail to achieve?
c. Why did so many new movements emerge by the end of the 1960s?
d. Was the nation more or less divided in 1970 than it had been in 1950?
When writing your response, draw from material in the following video:
a. Let freedom ring: Moments from the civil rights movement, 1954-1965
Also in your response, draw from at least TWO of the documents listed below:
a. “The bottom of the economic totem pole”: African American women in the workplace
b. The Port Huron statement of the students for a democratic society
c. “The cycle of poverty”: Mexican-American migrant farmworkers testify before Congress
d. “We must destroy the capitalistic system which enslaves us”: Stokely Carmichael advocates black revolution
e. “Self determination of free peoples”: Founding documents of the American Indian Movement (AIM)
f. “All our problems stem from the same sex based myths”: Gloria Steinem delineates American gender myths during ERA hearings
g. Gay power comes to Sheridan Square
Your initial post should be at least 200 words in length. Support your claims with examples from the required material(s) and/or other scholarly resources, and properly cite any references.
Week 4 Discussion 2
After the Second World War, the US embarked on what came to be known as the Cold War against the Soviet Union. Although the two sides never fought against each other directly, the Cold War nonetheless erupted into violence at times in places like Vietnam, Korea, and Afghanistan. As the US grew more activist and interventionist in its foreign policy, the domestic government also grew in power and in its role in the people’s lives.
Explain the origins of the Cold War and describe how different presidential administrations, from Truman to Nixon, handled Cold War affairs. Address the ways in which the presidents responded to the perceived threat of Soviet expansion, and explain how these approaches involved the US in conflicts in Vietnam and Korea. Consider, also, the ways in which the US intervened in the affairs of smaller nations such as Iran. Finally, explore how the Cold War changed America’s domestic society, focusing on issues such as the role of the government in people’s lives, the Red Scare, the return of domesticity, and growing distrust toward the federal government. Summarize your thoughts on the issues above by answering the following questions:
a. Why did the Cold War start and how did it develop over its first three decades?
b. What were its most important effects at home and abroad?
When responding to these prompts, draw from the material in ONE of the following videos:
a. The post-war years
b. Superpowers collide
Also, draw from the material in THREE of the following documents:
a. Electronic briefing book no. 28: The secret CIA history of the Iran coup, 1953
b. Farewell address
c. Protestant-Catholic-Jew: An essay in American religious sociology (1960)
d. The Tonkin Gulf incident; 1964
e. Address on the Cuban crisis October 22, 1962
f. March 9th memo from Kissinger to Nixon
g. Richard Nixon’s resignation
h. SDS Vietnam anti-war speech
i. The vital center: The politics of freedom
j. The war powers act
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