Sources of Freedom Exercises

This chapter concentrates on the history of the 1960s, with emphasis on the civil rights movement, the Great Society program, and the war in Vietnam. The chapter opens with the sit-in movement of 1960, demonstrating the growing frustration over the slow pace of change. As the decade progressed, the civil rights movement grew with grassroots organizations and substantial student participation. The Freedom Rides, Birmingham, and the March on Washington are explored, reveling the core demands of the movement.

The Kennedy years are looked at next, discussing JFK’s foreign policy, the Peace Corps, Alliance for Progress, and the Cuban Missile Crisis. After Kennedy’s assassination, Lyndon Johnson immediately worked to get the Civil Rights Act through Congress. Following that, the civil rights movement rallied around the Freedom Summer, Johnson’s 1964 election campaign, and the passage of the Voting Rights Act. Genuinely concerned about civil rights, Johnson launched his Great Society program, enlarging the freedoms begun during the New Deal. By mid-decade, the civil rights movement moved North and urban ghettos were plagued by riots. Appealing to the concerns of the northern black urban communities were Malcolm X and the idea of Black Power.

Both the civil rights movement and the Great Society become overshadowed by the war in Vietnam. Determined to change society and ensure freedom as participatory democracy, the Students for a Democratic Society issued the Port Huron Statement, highlighted in Voices of Freedom, and headed the antiwar movement. As the 1960s progressed, young Americans’ understanding of freedom increasingly expanded to include cultural freedom as well, as seen with the Counterculture.

Next, the chapter looks at the other movements of the 1960s, including the feminist, gay, Latino, Indian, environmental, and consumer rights movements. The liberal Warren Court is discussed too, as it extended many rights in the 1960s. Finally, the chapter concludes with the turbulent events of 1968, beginning with the Tet Offensive and culminating with the election of Richard Nixon.

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