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THE USA 1945-70 Key Topic 1 McCARTHYISM and the RED SCARE
In the later 1940s and early 1950s the USA experienced a fear of communism which was known as the Red Scare. This was exploited by Joseph McCarthy, a Republican senator. Why did people in the USA become so concerned about the risk of possible communist influence in their country? The impact of the Cold War, 1945-50 The main reason fear of communism in the USA grew was because of the development of the Cold War in the years after 1945 which worsened relations between the USA and the USSR. The US President, Truman, and Soviet leader Stalin, first clashed at the peace conference at Potsdam in July 1945 over the treatment of Germany and Soviet ambitions in Eastern Europe. Truman accused Stalin of going back on his promises that he had made at the Yalta Conference in February to allow free elections in Eastern Europe. The problem was that Roosevelt had deliberately been rather vague in his dealings with Stalin because he wanted Soviet help to finish off the war with Japan. By July, Truman no longer needed Soviet help and so was ready to take a much tougher line. The leaders at the Potsdam Conference

Following the end of the war in August 1945 and throughout the first months of peace, relations between the two Superpowers worsened and Truman was advised to contain Russian expansive tendencies. The USA genuinely feared Soviet expansion in Eastern and then possibly Western Europe. In March 1946, Churchill talked of an iron curtain separating the West and East in Europe there seemed to be clear hostility between the former allies. Events in Europe continued to widen the gap the British inability to stem communism in Greece led President Truman to issue the Truman Doctrine, which promised US assistance for all countries resisting communism. However, the supreme effort to contain communism came with the Marshall Plan which gave US economic aid to countries in Eastern Europe to encourage their economic recovery and prevent them falling to communism. For more information about the Truman Doctrine, click here By 1948, Soviet influence had taken hold in most Eastern European countries. Only Czechoslovakia remained free. But in that year, the Soviet Union prevented the development of democracy in Czechoslovakia and ensured the Czech Communist Party was able to take control of the government. The principal political opponents of the communists were murdered. The Berlin Blockade of 194849 indicated how far Stalin was prepared to go to try to force the West out of their sectors in Berlin. He was even prepared to risk war, when he stopped all land transport into the city. These events, along with the Soviet development of the atom bomb in 1949, convinced the Americans that Stalin wanted world domination. Moreover, the success of the Communist Party in China in 1949 indicated the danger of communism as a truly worldwide threat. As far as Truman and his advisers were concerned, the spread of communism had to be halted. The Western countries formed the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), which stated that an attack on any NATO member was seen as an attack on the whole alliance. US forces were stationed in large numbers in Europe for the first time since the Second World War. The invasion of South Korea by communist controlled North Korea in 1950 convinced many in the USA that the fear of communism had spread to Asia and had to be contained. US politicians began to talk of the Domino Effect; as one country fell to communism, neighbouring countries would follow. For more information about the Korean War, click here To counter the threat, in 1950, Truman sent large numbers of US troops to South Korea in an effort to beat back the Chinese supported invasion from the North. It was described officially as a United Nations force, but most of the troops were US. In the same year, Truman gave $3 billion to the French forces in Vietnam to help their attempts to retake control of Indo-China from the Vietnamese communists led by Ho Chi Minh.

Checkpoint: How did events in Europe and around the world increase fear of communism in the USA?

The development of the Red Scare World events had woken up many Americans to the threat of communism and some of these people now saw a threat within the USA. Growing US involvement in Cold War politics after 1945 encouraged the view that difficulties faced abroad resulted from treason and subversion at home. Help for the Chinese Communist Revolution was seen as coming from Chinese Americans and the Communist spread in Eastern Europe was being assisted by Americans with origins in that part of Europe. After World War Two, increasing numbers of Democrats and Republicans took up these anti-Communist views and many Americans became subject

to loyalty oaths. President Truman himself often talked of the enemy within; meaning communism in the USA. Growing Cold War tensions also raised concerns about US security and particularly the loyalty of the 80,000 Communist Party members some of whom held key government positions. In 1945, a raid on the offices of a pro-Communist magazine revealed that classified documents had been given to the periodical by two State Department employees and a naval intelligence officer. In March 1947, Truman issued Executive Order 9835 establishing loyalty checks on all government workers which included their associations and beliefs. Workers were not permitted to face their accusers or to know the sources used to investigate them. Between 1947 and 1951, loyalty boards forced nearly 3,000 government employees to resign and a further 300 were sacked on charges of disloyalty. Even when there was no evidence of spying, many employees became frightened for their future employment. The very existence of federal loyalty investigations encouraged increasing antiCommunist and foreign hysteria throughout the country and prompted fears of Communist infiltration at all levels. By the end of the Truman presidency in 1953, 39 states had loyalty programmes. Schoolteachers, college professors and state and city employees were forced to sign loyalty oaths or lose their jobs. Clearly, the United States was experiencing a Red Scare and in 1947 The House Un-American Activities Committee began hearings to expose Communist influence in American life. HUAC The Senate House Committee on Un-American Activities (later called The House UnAmerican Activities Committee or HUAC) was formed as early as 1938. It served initially as a platform to denounce The New Deal as a Communist plot. From 1947, however, it was used to investigate communist infiltration. Those refusing to answer HUAC questions often lost their jobs. HUAC also frightened labour unions into expelling Communist members. Unions were thereby forced to concentrate exclusively on securing better pay.

The Hollywood Ten HUAC extended its investigations into the entertainment industry. There was a fear that films were being used to put over a communist message. The most famous case involved the Hollywood Ten. These were ten writers and directors who had to testify before HUAC. They were asked if they had been members of the Communist Party. They refused to answer, pleading the Fifth Amendment. This was part of the US constitution which allows the accused in a trial not to be forced to give testimony. They were found guilty of contempt of Congress and put in jail for a year. They were also sacked from their jobs. This increased the fear of communism. Many Americans were convinced that communism had infiltrated the film industry. For more information about the Hollywood Ten, click here Alger Hiss The case of Alger Hiss increased the fears of a Red Scare. In the middle of the 1948 presidential election campaign, HUAC conducted a sensational hearing in which Whittaker Chambers, a senior editor at Time magazine and a former Soviet agent who had broken with the Communists in 1938, identified Hiss as an underground party member throughout the 1930s. Hiss had worked for the Supreme Court, was at Yalta with Roosevelt and in 1948 was working for a peace organisation. Hiss was interrogated by Richard Nixon, a leading member of the HUAC. However, there was little evidence to prove him to be a spy. President Truman himself dismissed the allegations made by Chambers as a red herring. However, later that year, 1948, Nixon was invited to Chambers farm; Chambers took Nixon to a pumpkin patch, pulled off the top of a pumpkin and took out a

roll of microfilm. This microfilm, which became known as the Pumpkin Papers, contained classified government documents which had been typed on Hiss typewriter. Photographs of the pumpkin and one of the papers

Alger Hiss (circled) listens to Whittaker Chambers giving evidence at the trial.

In 1950, Hiss was tried for perjury and sentenced to five years in jail. This further increased the fear of communism in the USA as many Americans believed that communism spies and sympathisers had infiltrated key positions in government agencies. For more information about the Alger His case, including photographs, click here In September 1950, at the height of the Hiss Case and the beginning of the Rosenberg Case, Congress passed the McCarran Internal Security Act. The McCarran Act meant that the Communist Party had to register with the justice department to ensure that the party and its members could be carefully monitored. In addition, in the event of war,

suspected communists could be held in detention camps. A Subversive Activities Control Board was set up to keep an eye on communist activities in the USA. Spying had been a major concern since 1945 because the US government knew that Stalin had ordered the construction of a Soviet A Bomb as soon as possible. The quickest way to make one would be to steal the secrets. The Hiss case hade made people very suspicious, but in 1950, the worst possible situation developed. In February, the British arrested Klaus Fuchs, a German-born scientist involved in The Manhattan Project for passing atomic secrets to the Soviets. The confession made by Fuchs led to the arrest of two Americans, Ethel and John Rosenberg as fellow conspirators. The couple had been members of the Communist Party but had no links by 1950. The government claimed that they were passing secrets to the Soviet Union. Although the evidence against the couple, at the time, was flimsy, they were found guilty and sentenced to death. The Rosenbergs spent two years on death row. They made several appeals against their sentence, all of which failed. They were executed in June 1953. Once again, the Rosenberg case fuelled the fear of communism in the USA.

The Rosenbergs after their convictions For more information about the Rosenbergs and the trial, click here and here The impact of McCarthyism The fear of communism in the USA was turned into hysteria by Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin. In February 1950, McCarthy told an audience in West Virginia that Communists in The State Department had betrayed America. He claimed to have a list of 205 names known to The Secretary of State as being members of the Communist Party and who nevertheless are still working and shaping policy. Although no evidence existed for these allegations, McCarthy nevertheless achieved national fame. A Senate

Committee was set up to investigate but found his accusations a fraud and a hoax. The committee chairman, Senator Tydings, was accused of being a communist and, in the autumn, was defeated in the senate elections. Many politicians were afraid to speak out against McCarthy. Senator Joseph McCarthy

McCarthy persisted with his campaign despite the continuing absence of supporting evidence. As The Korean War dragged on, his efforts to root out the skunks escalated. He ridiculed US Secretary of State Dean Acheson as the Red Dean and called Trumans dismissal of General Douglas MacArthur the greatest victory the Communists have ever won. He received support from many sections of US society. Many Republicans encouraged McCarthy. He appealed to many Conservative members of Congress who were angry with the Democrats for their support of welfare, restrictions on business and the Europe-first emphasis of Trumans foreign policy. For millions of American citizens, McCarthy offered simple answers to complex Cold War questions. He gained increasing support from the Republican political establishment as the Democrats became frightened of antagonising him and the Republican victory in the 1950 mid-term elections owed much to his anti-communist campaign. After the election, McCarthy was made Chairman of the Government Committee on Operations of the Senate. This enabled him to investigate state bodies and also interview hundreds of individuals about their political beliefs. His aim was to root out communists from the government. During his interrogations, which were televised, he bullied the accused. His hearings and public statements ruined the lives of many people. Other politicians such as Richard Nixon took advantage of McCarthyism and attacked communism in US society. In addition, the HUAC still continued to seek out possible communists or communist sympathisers, especially in the film industry. Many actors and writers were blacklisted and unable to secure wok or several years. In late 1952, McCarthys researchers investigated libraries to see whether they contained books written by communists. Many books were now banned.

The 1952 presidential election was fought against this background of anti-communist hysteria. The result was an overwhelming victory for the Republican candidate, Dwight D. Eisenhower, as the Democratic presidential hopes sink to their lowest level since the 1920s. The Republicans also took control of both houses of Congress. Eisenhower disliked McCarthy intensely but was reluctant to confront him whereas Richard Nixon, the vice-presidential candidate continued to use his ideas to portray the Democrats as liberals and pro-Communist. Eisenhower dealt with the communist threat in his own way. He set up a Federal Loyalty Programme, similar to that of Truman. In addition, he introduced the Communist Control Act. This limited the rights of the party and made membership very difficult. In 1954, McCarthy accused the army of harbouring Communist spies whilst, in response, the army charged McCarthy with using his influence to obtain preferential treatment for a staff member who had been drafted. The Army-McCarthy Senate hearings began in April 1954 and were televised throughout the nation. The American public saw, for the first time, the true nature of McCarthy the bully who had no hard evidence. McCarthy was aggressive in his cross-examination of witnesses. On the other hand, the army attorney, Joseph Welch, was calm in his manner. His claim against the army was dismissed. For more information about the Army Hearings, click here McCarthy also faced challenges from the media. In March 1954, the popular television broadcaster and journalist, Ed Murrow, made a documentary which exposed McCarthy was a bully whose claims had no substance. Other journalists began to attack McCarthy. In addition, his excessive drinking was affecting his public image. In December 1954, he was officially rebuked by the Committee Chairman for endless interruptions and for showing contempt for its proceedings. McCarthy then lost the chairmanship of the Committee on Operations of the Senate. Although McCarthy died in 1957, the fears that he had exploited lingered on. Congress still continued to fund The House Un-American Activities Committee and many state and local governments continued to regard Communists and other liberals within the United States as a threat. McCarthy and others helped to create an environment in post-war America in which liberals, many academics, intellectuals and those thought to harbour Communist sympathies were seen as suspicious and a threat to the security of the nation. In this environment, those Americans who were not white, Anglo-Saxon and Protestant were likely to experience a difficult time. The words red, pinko and commie were seen as unpatriotic and a threat to the USA. Anyone who tried to change the USA, such as the civil rights campaigners, was seen as communist. For more information about the life of McCarthy, click here

Checkpoint: McCarthyism Why was McCarthy so popular? Why did he lose influence in 1954?


In the years following the Second World War, the civil rights movement made progress in its campaign against segregation and discrimination with developments such as Brown v Topeka, the Montgomery Bus Boycott and Little Rock High School. Black Americans (about 12% of all US citizens) are descended from the slaves brought over from Africa to work the tobacco, cotton and sugar plantations. They were theoretically freed in 1863, but still suffered from poverty, segregation and discrimination of all kinds. In the southern states in the USA blacks had their own separate, cafes, cinemas, transport, and toilets. Every effort was made to keep blacks and whites separate. Jim Crow Laws prevented blacks from voting and enforced separate, and unequal, schools. These were state laws that forced, for example, blacks to pass tests in order to vote. Thirty-two states had segregated schools. The NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People) was founded in 1909 and particularly tried to raise the issue of their denial of civil rights. However its success at first was limited. By 1941, it had only 50,000 members. However, the Second World War provided black Americans with an excellent opportunity to push for civil rights. For more information about the development of the NAACP, click here Inside the USA, many Black Americans enlisted in factories supporting the war effort. 700,000 moved north and west from the southern states to find work. They found a different society in which they were treated much better. Black activists began to campaign actively for equality. In 1941, Philip Randolph organised a march of 100,000 on Washington, with the slogan We loyal Americans demand the right to work and fight for our country. In 1942 CORE, the Congress of Racial Equality was set up and black newspapers set up the Double V campaign; Victory over Hitler and Victory in the struggle for equality. By 1946 the NAACP, the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People, had 460,000 members. This was more than ten times its membership in 1940. For more information about Philip Randolph, click here Roosevelts policy of giving black Americans equal treatment during the New Deal continued during the Second World War. He attempted to force industry to employ blacks if they wanted to receive government contracts. In 1941 he issued Executive Order 8802. It stated that all federal defence contracts were to be awarded without discrimination as to race, creed, colour, or national origin. In 1941 Roosevelt set up the Fair Employment Practices Committee to enforce the order, but had no power to compel companies to follow his policy. All he could do was refuse to give government contracts to companies that would not agree.

The movement of black Americans to find work in the north was not without its problems. Race riots broke out in Detroit in June 1943 and thirty-four people were killed and $2,000,000 worth of damage was caused. Black soldiers also rioted in nine army training camps because they were receiving unequal treatment. Black Americans were also recruited into all three armed services, but at first had to serve in separate units. However, by the end of the war some units in the army were desegregated. General Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe personally supported integrated units. At the beginning of the war there were only twelve black officers in the US Army and black soldiers were often given routine tasks to perform. By the end of the war much had changed. Black officers were also appointed in all three services and the Air Force began to train black pilots, 600 in all by the end of the war. Altogether about 1,000,000 black Americans served in the armed forces. They found themselves involved in a struggle against a racist dictator, while they were themselves subject to racist discrimination at home. Many were sent to Europe where they served in countries that had no racial bars. When they returned to the USA in 1945 it was even harder to accept the return to discrimination. Whatever the experiences of black Americans during the war, in 1945 they returned to the USA where many were unable to vote and were condemned to be second class citizens. In this respect the war was a big boost to the civil rights movement. Checkpoint: The impact of the Second World War on the civil rights movement Positive effects Negative effects

Progress, especially in education and problems in implementation In 1945 Roosevelt died and was succeeded by his Vice-President Harry Truman. Although Truman was a southerner, he was a passionate supporter of equal treatment for black Americans. In 1946 President Truman set up a Presidents Committee on Civil Rights and produced a programme of reforms in 1947, including a bill to outlaw lynching and ban Jim Crow Laws, but this was crushed by Congress. The Republicans and southern Democrats voted against it. This was exactly the same combination of forces that had prevented Roosevelt from taking action. It was to continue to dog attempts to introduce civil rights legislation for the next twenty years. Truman was however successful in carrying through one reform. In 1948 he issued an Executive Order ending segregation in units in the armed forces. This came into effect in 1950 and was in force during the Korean War. In the early 1950s the main focus of the civil rights movement came to rest on education. The NAACP realised that an effective way to tackle segregation was through the courts. Because all but sixteen states had segregated schools, education provided a series of test cases in the 1950s and became the focus of civil rights activity. It also led to a series of rulings by the Supreme Court, the most important legal body in the USA, and one that could be neither ignored nor overruled. In 1950 the Supreme Court declared that black and white student could not be segregated in the same school and that the education provided in segregated schools had to be equal in every respect. This meant more than just having similar buildings, books and resources. Factors such as the quality of teaching also had to be taken into account. This gave the NAACP an important foothold. Segregated schools were very rarely equal in every respect. The whole point of segregation was to ensure privileged treatment for some. Their big opportunity came in 1954. The Brown v Topeka Case In 1954 Oliver Brown was told by the Topeka Board of Education in Kansas that his seven year old daughter Linda could not attend her nearest school. She would have to attend a school that was much further away. The reason was clear. The Browns were black and all of the other pupils at the nearest school were white. Brown used the Supreme Court ruling to take the City of Topeka in Kansas to court for forcing his daughter to attend a school a long way away, instead of being allowed to go to the nearby whites only school. The NAACP supported the case and Brown was represented by Thurgood Marshall, who later became the first black member of the Supreme Court. Eventually Oliver Brown won his case. In 1954 the Supreme Court declared that all segregated schools were illegal, because separate must mean unequal. The following year the Supreme Court ordered all states with segregated schools to integrate black and white schoolchildren. But this was easier said than done.

Some northern states introduced integrated schools relatively easily, but over the next few years there was hardly any progress towards the desegregation of schools in the South. In some areas, white students refused to attend integrated schools. In others White Citizens Councils were set up to resist change. In 1956, the University of Alabama refused to accept Authorine Lucy as a student despite a government court order. Linda Brown walking to school

For more information about the Brown Case, click here

Checkpoint: The Brown Case Why was it so important to the civil rights movement?

Emmett Till The extent of racial hatred in the USA was revealed in 1955 when Emmett Till, a black boy from Chicago, visited relatives in Mississippi. His friends dared him to speak to a white woman in a store. As he left, after buying some sweets, he said bye baby. The store-keeper seized him and three days later the body of the body was found dead. He had a bullet in his head and his skull was crushed. An all-white Jury found the storekeeper and his half-brother, both of whom were white, not guilty after an hour of deliberation For photographs of Emmett Till and the trial, click here

Little Rock Despite the appalling case of the death of Emmett Till, the campaign for equality of education continued. In 1957 Elizabeth Eckford and eight other black students tried to enrol at Little Rock High School in Arkansas. She was stopped by the State Governor, Orval Faubus, who surrounded the school with the state National Guard. Faubus claimed that he had heard that there was going to be trouble. He was forced to remove the troopers by a court ruling, but when the nine black students tried to enrol on 5 September, they were faced by a crowd of more than 1,000. After lunch they were escorted home by the police. SOURCE A: from The Long Shadow of Little Rock, a book published in 1962. These are the words of Elizabeth Eckford, one of the nine black students to enrol at Littlerock High School in 1957 They glared at me with a mean look and I was very frightened and didnt know what to do. I turned around the crowd came toward me. They moved closer and closer. The crowd began to follow me, calling me names. When I got to the front of the school, I went up to the guard. He didnt move. When I tried to squeeze past him, he raised his bayonet. Somebody started shouting lynch her! lynch her!. I tried to see a friendly face in the mob someone maybe who would help. I looked into the face of an old woman and it seemed a kindly face. But when I looked at her again, she spat at me. SOURCE B: from an article in the New York Times, September 1957; it describes the reaction in Little Rock to the arrival of black students A man yelled: Look, theyre going into our school. The crowd now let out a roar of rage. Theyve gone in, a man shouted. Oh God, said a woman, the Negroes are in school. A group of six girls, dressed in skirts and sweaters, hair in pony-tails, started to shriek and wail. The Negroes are in our school, they howled hysterically. Hysteria swept from shrieking girls to members of the crowd. Women cried hysterically, tears running down their faces.

SOURCE C: a photograph of Elizabeth Eckford taken on her first day at Little Rock High School in September 1957

Press and TV coverage in the USA and across the world was a serious embarrassment to the USA a country which apparently championed freedom and equality. Faced with such behaviour, President Eisenhower was forced to act. He sent federal troops to escort Elizabeth Eckford and protect her and the other students. After a month they were replaced by National Guardsmen under the orders of the President, they stayed at the school for a year

Checkpoint: Little Rock How useful are Sources A, B and C in helping you to understand the impact of Little Rock on people in the USA?

Why was Little Rock important? Little Rock was important because it forced President Eisenhower, who would have preferred to do nothing, to take some action. In 1957 Eisenhower introduced the first Civil Rights Act since 1875. It set up a commission to prosecute anybody who tried to deny American citizens their rights. Little Rock also attracted world-wide attention and was on television screens across the USA. It demonstrated that states could be overruled by the federal government when necessary. The demonstrations were seen on television and in newspapers across the world. Many US citizens saw, for the first time, the racial hatred that existed in the southern states. Governor Faubus attempted to get round the Presidents action by closing all the schools in Arkansas in September 1958, but he was forced to reopen them to black and white students by the Supreme Court. Despite the actions of the President and the Supreme Court Faubus remained popular. In December 1958 he was voted one of the ten most popular men in the USA. However, even after Little Rock, progress on integration was slow. By 1963 there were only 30,000 children at mixed schools in the South, out of a total of 2,900,000 and none at all in Alabama, Mississippi or South Carolina. The Montgomery Bus Boycott In 1955 Rosa Parks was arrested in Montgomery, Alabama, for refusing to give her seat on a bus to a white man. Buses were divided into three sections. At the front were seats reserved for whites. At the back were seats reserved for blacks, and in the centre were seats that could be used by either group. However, in the middle section blacks had to give up their seats for whites. When Rosa Parks refused to give her seat to a white man, the bus driver stopped the bus and she was arrested. The Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA) was set up to organise a boycott of buses, led by a local church minister, Martin Luther King. Martin Luther King organised a boycott of the buses which lasted for a year. All of the black Americans in Montgomery and the surrounding area walked rather than use the buses. Eventually the bus company was compelled to give in and desegregate the buses. During the boycott, Kings house was firebombed and 88 black community leaders were arrested for conspiring to boycott. Throughout the boycott, there were appeals to the Supreme Court challenging segregation on buses. In 1956 the Supreme Court said that segregation on buses was also illegal. A peaceful approach had brought about a significant victory. It had shown that black Americans could organise themselves.

A reconstruction of Rosa Parks on the bus in Montgomery

Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King

For more information about Rosa Parks and the Bus Boycott, click here For more information about the Bus Boycott, including interviews with people who took part, click here Checkpoint: The Montgomery Bus Boycott; why was it so important? 1 2 3

The boycott established King as the leader of the civil rights movement. Following the boycott, King set up the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and became its president in 1957. His energy and enthusiasm were a major reason for the success of the campaign. He followed the methods used by Gandhi when campaigning for independence for India non violent civil disobedience. Martin Luther King and further progress and problems, 1958-62 Sit-ins King began to organise non-violent protests all over the South. Their main tactic of his supporters was the sit-in. The first was at Woolworth's in Greensboro, North Carolina, where eighty-five students demanded to be served at a whites only counter. When they were refused, they organised a sit-in. They sat at the counters waiting to be served but did not react to intimidation, threats or abuse. They were often showered with drinks and waste food, but still remained calm. Altogether 70,000 took part and 3,600 went to jail. When whites turned violent there was widespread television coverage and support for Civil Rights. The sit-in at Greensboro

Other variations of sit-ins developed to try to end segregation. There were kneel-ins in churches, wade-ins in swimming baths and read-ins in libraries. By 1961 810 towns and cities were desegregated. The civil rights movement gained much publicity when television highlighted the non-violence of the protestors in the face of violence from some white racists. Student protests also began to be organised by the Student Nonviolent Co-ordinating Committee (SNCC), which was formed in April 1960. Many students dropped out of their studies to work full-time for civil rights.

Freedom Riders The Supreme Court decided in December 1960 that all bus stations and terminals that served interstate travellers should be integrated. In 1961, King and the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) wanted to test that decision by using the tactic of the freedom ride. The Freedom Riders began to make bus journeys to break Jim Crow Laws. The first of the freedom riders was in May 1961, when thirteen CORE volunteers left Washington DC by bus to travel to New Orleans. At Anniston, Alabama, a bus was attacked and burnt. In Birmingham, there was no protection and the freedom riders were attacked by an angry mob. The police chief, Bull Connor, had given the police the day off. Nevertheless, they had gained tremendous publicity. The Freedom Riders wanted to put pressure on the Kennedy. They succeeded; later the same year all railway and bus stations were desegregated by the Interstate Commerce Committee. The riders continued throughout freedom summer and more than 300 of them were imprisoned in Jackson alone. There were more and more attacks on them from members of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). For more information and photographs of the Freedom Riders, click here John F Kennedy and civil rights In 1961, President Eisenhower was replaced as President by John F Kennedy. While Eisenhower had always enforced the law, he had never tried to make a big issue of Civil Rights. Kennedy was different. He seemed moved by the plight of black Americans and had made promises to tackle Civil Rights. But his inauguration speech contained no references to civil rights. Nevertheless it soon became clear that Kennedy intended to do ore than pay lip service to the cause of civil rights. He began to appoint black Americans to important positions and his brother Robert, who was Attorney General, prosecuted people who tried to prevent black Americans from voting. In 1962, the Kennedys held meetings with the main civil rights groups, including the SNCC, CORE and the NAACP. Between them they formed the Voter Education Project. This was intended to help black Americans register for the vote and so increase the number of black voters. There was a large increase in the number of black voters, but instances of intimidation of blacks also increased and houses and property were burnt. In June 1962, the Supreme Court had upheld a federal court decision to force Mississippi University to accept James Meredith. The University did not want any black students and Meredith was prevented from registering. President Kennedy sent the National Guard and 5,000 federal troops into Mississippi to make sure that a black student, James Meredith, could take his place at a university. But when rioting followed, 23,000 troops were needed to keep order. There were riots and two people were killed and 70 were wounded. Soldiers had to remain on the campus until he received his degree, three years later.


There were dramatic changes in the civil rights movement in the years 1963-70. King continued to lead the movement and made his famous I have a dream speech. However, his leadership and methods were challenged by Malcolm X and the Black Power Movement. Peace marches in 1962-3: Alabama and Washington Despite his clear support for civil rights, Kennedy had still shown no sign of introducing a Civil Rights Bill to Congress. This was what all of the supporters of King and the other groups were waiting for. But events elsewhere were moving towards a climax. In 1962 the city of Birmingham closed all public parks, buildings, playing fields and swimming pools. to avoid integrating them. Martin Luther King organised a campaign to force the city to back down. He wanted to achieve maximum publicity for civil rights. The Police Commissioner, Eugene Bull Connor responded with water cannon, dogs and baton charges. Arrests reached 500 a day, but it was all shown on television and most people were sickened by the violence. In 1963 Kennedy forced the city to give way and Alabama, the last state, was forced to allow desegregated schools. For photographs of the Birmingham March, click here The impact of the events in Birmingham went far beyond the city and the state. The television coverage had a dramatic effect on US and world opinion. No American could now deny the brutality of segregation, or try to pretend that it was simply a question of difference. It was now clear that segregation meant second class status and humiliation for black Americans. President Kennedy was also influenced by the events in Birmingham and at last introduced a Civil Rights Bill to Congress. However, it got bogged down, partly because of opposition from Kennedys own party the Democrats, who were strong in the South. So even President Kennedy was unable to do anything really effective; he was not even prepared to force the measure through and possibly lose support with the presidential election the following year. The problem that Kennedy faced was that he had made too many enemies amongst the supporters of segregation. He was a young brash, Catholic from New England. Nobody could have been further removed from the old-fashioned, landed gentry of the South. His lack of political experience meant that his measures were soon bogged down in the mire of Congressional politics. By the time he was assassinated in November 1963, he had 97 measures stuck in Congress.

The March on Washington Martin Luther King tried to put pressure on the President and planned a march through Washington. He had originally intended to demand more jobs for black Americans, but then changed his plans to demand support for the Civil Rights Bill. Kennedy asked King to call it off, but he refused and 200,000 people marched and heard King speak. It has been estimated that there were about 80,000 white supporters. King was the final speaker of the day during which he made one of the most famous speeches of the twentieth century I have a dream. For photographs of the Washington March, click here Martin Luther King and civil rights legislation Kings campaigns played a key role in bringing about the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts. The Civil Rights Act 1964 The situation changed dramatically after Kennedys death. There was a great wave of sympathy for him and for his aims. An important Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964 by Kennedys successor President Johnson. Johnson was a southerner from Texas, where segregation was common, so it was surprising that he forced Congress to accept the act. This was partly a result of Kennedys assassination, but also because Johnson had been a schoolteacher who had seen the effects of segregation. He was also a skilled and ruthless politician who knew how Congress worked. With opposition weakening after Kennedys assassination, Johnson forced the legislation through Congress with little difficulty. The Civil Rights Act made segregation in education and housing illegal. It stated that all Americans were entitled to equal employment opportunities and that all Federal projects must include racial integration Voting Rights campaign Having achieved a Civil Rights Act, King went on with his campaign and tried to encourage more black Americans to register for the vote. He targeted the town of Selma, Alabama, for his non-violent campaign. Here there were only 383 black American voters who had been able to register out of a possible 15,000. The sheriff of Selma, Jim Clark, was a well known white racist. King hoped that Clark would react brutally and this would be given national and international publicity. The march was to start at Selma and end at Birmingham where they would present a petition to Governor Wallace. Wallace banned the march but King ignored the ban. The march was stopped on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma and the marchers were attacked by Sheriff Clarks men and state troopers using tear gas, horses and clubs. A second march took place two days later. King, however, turned the marchers back because he

had agreed with President Johnson that he would avoid another violent confrontation if Johnson introduced a Voting Rights bill. The Voting Rights Act, 1965, made it illegal to try to prevent blacks from registering for the vote by setting literacy tests for voters. 1,000,000 more black voters were added to the registers. But Martin Luther King was beginning to face another and quite different challenge. For more information about Martin Luther King, click here Malcolm X and Black Power The civil rights movement became divided in the years after 1963 due to the influence of Malcolm X and the Black Power movement. As early as the late 1950s some black Americans began to reject the methods of Martin Luther King. This led to the formation of a number of groups, which demanded Black Power. The reasons for the rejection of non-violent protest were complex. For some activists, Martin Luther Kings tactics were simply taking too long. They were legally entitled to equality and did not see why they should wait for whites to be persuaded of the justice of their arguments. For others it was not just a matter of speed, it was a belief that no matter how ell meaning whites were, blacks would never be accepted. Malcolm X represented this point of view and it was clearly expressed in a statement in his autobiography, which was not published until 1970. Malcolm X was not just rejecting Kings tactics; he was also rejecting his aims. Malcolm X did not want to be integrated into white society. He wanted a separate black society. Malcolm Xs beliefs were exemplified in his refusal to use his surname, Little, which came from his Baptist parents and his support for the Nation of Islam, a militant black Muslim organisation, which had been founded in the 1930s. Malcolm X accepted that black Americans had the right to use violence in self-defence if they were attacked. At first, he was regarded with horror by many whites. His speeches appeared to predict a violent clash between blacks and whites. He was very popular in the northern states, where blacks often lived in ghettos and could only find lowly paid work, but he was criticised by the moderate civil rights leaders. The growing interest in Islam amongst black Americans was also a sign of a basic change in the campaigns for civil rights. Martin Luther King was a Baptist minister and conducted his campaigns on what he believed were Christian principles. To some blacks, however, Christianity was a white religion and was simply being used to maintain the status quo. Islam, on the other hand, was seen as a black religion. The Nation of Islam, or Black Muslims, was not only an alternative belief, but also represented an alternative society. It founded mosques and schools in the USA to teach the faith and educate its members.

However, by the mid-1960s Malcolm X was beginning to moderate his stance. After a pilgrimage to Mecca he converted to mainstream Islam and began to talk in terms of a brotherhood of black and white. This led to a split with the Nation of Islam and its leader Elijah Muhammed. Malcolm X was assassinated in 1965 probably by Black Muslims who regarded him as a traitor. For more information about Malcolm X, click here Checkpoint: Martin Luther King and Malcolm X In what ways were they different; in what ways were they the same? Martin Luther King Malcolm X


Black Power After Malcolm Xs murder, leadership of what became known as the Black Power Movement passed to Stokeley Carmichael. He had become leader of the SNCC in 1964, but Kings death led him to more radical views. Black Power was a rejection of the idea of integration and in some cases a demand for a separate black society. From 1967 Carmichael went even further and supported the Black Panthers. This organisation had been founded in 1966 and wanted to start a race war against white Americans. Carmichael preached the use of violence to force whites to give way. The result was a wave of race riots across the USA. There had already been serious trouble in 1965. In the Watts area of Los Angeles 34 people had died and 1,000 buildings were destroyed when frustration amongst young blacks got out of hand. There were further riots in the next three years in Chicago, Philadelphia, Cleveland and New York. 1967 was the worst year, with 150 cities affected. It seemed that civil war was breaking out in the USA. Black Power reached a peak when some US athletes demonstrated at the Olympic Games in Mexico in 1968. Two medallists in the 400 metres raised their right arms in the Black Power salute when the anthem was played after the medals had been awarded. The Black Panthers wanted full employment, good housing and adequate education. They wore uniforms and were prepared to use weapons. By the end of 1968, they had 5,000 members. In 1969, 27 Panthers were killed and 700 were injured in clashes with the police. They gradually lost influence and were eventually disbanded in 1982. In response to Black Power, President Johnson appointed Governor Kerner of Illinois to head a commission in 1967 to discover what was causing the riots. The Kerner Report was published in April 1968 and stated that the main cause was frustration of young blacks. Further progress in later 1960s In the same month as the Kerner report was published, Martin Luther King was assassinated by James Earl Ray. This led to a new wave of riots in 130 cities. The unrest and the Kerner Report brought positive action by the Federal Government. In April 1968, the Open Housing Law banned discrimination in the sale or rental of houses. In the same year a second Civil Rights Act was passed. This banned discrimination in housing and made it a Federal offence to injure civil rights workers, or even to cross a state boundary with the intention of committing such a crime. The following year, the Supreme Court ruled that desegregation of schools should begin at once. Since separate schools had been declared illegal in 1954, progress had clearly been slow. The Supreme Court decision created problems, however. Most black children lived in city centres, while white children usually lived in the suburbs. Creating desegregated schools was not easy. The usual solution was bussing, which meant

taking pupils from one neighbourhood to another by bus. This was obviously an unsatisfactory way of solving a difficult social and political problem. White parents objected to their children being sent to schools several miles away, where academic standards could be lower. Black parents objected to white children arriving in schools that had been previously all black. The National Black Political Convention believed that the move was racist. It accused the government of promoting a false notion that black children are unable to learn unless they are in the same setting as white children. Bussing still became common in a number of northern cities and even led to riots in Boston in 1974 and 1975. By the end of the 1960s the attempts to improve civil rights for black Americans were beginning to have some effect. Nevertheless, the numbers of blacks that were registered for the vote in the South rarely reached seventy per cent. In education, blacks still suffered from discrimination because facilities were poorer than those provided for white children. But despite these disadvantages, civil rights became a less important issue in the USA. There was also increasing evidence of positive discrimination in appointments to Federal posts. This had begun under Kennedy but continued throughout the 1960s and 1970s. For photographs of the Black Power movement, click here For more information about Stokeley Carmichael, click here


There was a range of protest movements in the USA in the 1960S, including student and womens campaigns. The reasons for student protest Youth culture The 1950s was a decade of frustration and anger for many young Americans. They wanted to rebel against everything, especially what their parents believed. This frustration led to the formation of teenage gangs and heavy drinking. Teenagers discovered an alternative culture rock n roll music. Elvis Presley, with his tight jeans, became a cult figure. Parents hated it but this only made it more attractive to the young who identified with James Dean in the film Rebel Without a Cause. This attitude continued with the swinging sixties in which teenagers demanded even more freedom in what they did including the music they listened to and the clothes they wore. The contraceptive pill epitomised this greater freedom. It gave females much more choice over whether and when to have children and led to greater freedom in sexual behaviour, and the wider use of recreational drugs. The young and the student movement were very much influenced by the explosion in pop music some of which protested against important issues of the day. Bob Dylan led the way. His lyrics covered the themes of the changing times, nuclear war, racism and the hypocrisy of waging war. The songs were about peace, free love and drugs. Artists such as Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Joan Baez, sang about sex, drugs and opposition to the war in Vietnam. Vietnam US involvement in the war in Vietnam united the student movement. Half a million young Americans were fighting in the war and many others would be called up by the draft or conscription system. Some students questioned the right of the USA to be in Vietnam, supporting a corrupt regime in South Vietnam. Opposition to the war grew with the number of casualties. In 1965 there was less than 2000 US casualties. By 1968 the number had increased to 14000. The methods of warfare used by the USA in Vietnam intensified student protest, especially the use of chemical weapons such as napalm and the killing of innocent civilians such as at My Lai. The media also encouraged student opposition. The war in Vietnam was the first to be televised in great detail. Colour television, readily accessible by the late 1960s, worsened the bloody nature of what was shown.

The student movement in the USA was also influenced by student protests all over the world. For example, in 1968, student demonstrations in Paris were so serious that they almost overthrew the government. President Kennedys assassination in 1963, angered and disillusioned many young Americans and drove them into protest movements. But for many young Americans, white and black, their first experience of protest was in civil rights. Martin Luther Kings methods proved inspirational and many white students supported the freedom marches, freedom rides and the sit-ins of the early and mid-1960s. Key features of the student movement The student movement began in the early 1960s with a demand for a greater say in how courses and universities were run. By the end of the 1960s it was heavily involved in protest against US involvement in the war in Vietnam. The SDS One of the first protest groups to emerge in the USA was the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). It was set up in 1959 by Tom Hayden to give students a greater say in how courses and universities were run. Hayden was a student at the University of Michigan. The SDS denounced the Cold War and demanded controlled disarmament to avoid the possibility of a nuclear war. It also wanted to help the poor and disadvantaged. It eventually formed groups in 150 colleges and universities and had 100,000 members by the end of the 1960s. Its support increased after President Johnson announced bombing raids on North Vietnam in 1965. The SDS first became known nationally in 1964, when it organised a sit-in against a ban on political activities at the University of California at Berkeley. This was followed by a series of similar sit-ins across the USA. Membership greatly increased when, in 1966, President Johnson abolished student draft deferments. 300 new SDS branches were set up. The SDS organised a variety of activities against the war in Vietnam including staging draft card burnings, harassing campus recruiters for the CIA, occupying buildings in universities and destroying draft card records. At the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago, SDS protestors, organised by Tom Hayden, created a riot in order to destroy the election chances of the pro-war candidate, Hubert Humphrey. Hayden and six others were arrested and convicted of crossing state lines to incite a riot. They became known as the Chicago Seven. The SDS was heavily involved in anti-war protests which reached their peak during 196870. In the first half of 1968, there were over a 100 demonstrations against the war, Students at these demonstrations often burned draft cards or, more seriously, the US flag which was a criminal offence. This, in turn, led to angry clashes with police.

Kent State University The worst incident occurred at Kent State University, Ohio in 1970 where students were holding a peaceful protest against President Nixons decision to bomb Cambodia as part of the Vietnam War. National Guardsmen, called to disperse the students, used tear gas to try to move them. When they refused to move shots were fired by the Guardsmen. Four people were killed and eleven injured. The press in the USA and abroad were horrified and some 400 colleges were closed as two million students went on strike in protest against this action. A photograph taken after the shootings

To find out more about the shootings at Kent State University, click here The Hippy Movement In the later 1960s, the student movement became more extreme in its views. Some of its members called themselves Weathermen and began to support violence to achieve their aims. They took their name from the Bob Dylan song You dont need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows. They bombed army recruitment centres and government buildings.

Other young people decided to drop out of society and become hippies. This meant they grew their hair long, wore distinctive clothes and developed an alternative lifestyle. Often they travelled round the country in buses and vans and wore flowers in their hair as a symbol of peace rather than war. Indeed their slogan was Make love, not war. Because they often wore flowers and handed them out to police, they were called 'flower children', and often settled in communes. San Francisco became the hippie capital of America. They were influenced by groups such as The Grateful Dead and The Doors. The highlight of the movement came at the Woodstock rock concert at the end of the 1960s This movement was of particular concern to the older generation because hippies refused to work and experimented in drugs such as marijuana and LSD. Many came from middle class backgrounds and turned against the beliefs and values of their parents. For photographs of hippies, click here Importance of the student movement The student movement was important for several reasons. It influenced government policy towards the war in Vietnam, including President Johnson's decision not to seek re-election in 1968 as well as Nixon's later policy of withdrawal and Vietnamisation. Student support greatly strengthened the civil rights campaign and the attack on white racism. They showed that most American youths would no longer tolerate discrimination and segregation. Many supporters of the student movement were from comfortable middle class backgrounds. Their views and attitudes profoundly shocked the more conservative older generation. It had a long lasting effect on the culture of the young, especially fashion. Teenagers became much more aware of their individuality and demanded a greater say in what they wore and did. This is best reflected by the miniskirt, which was also a reflection of the greater sexual permissiveness The women's movement The Second World War had seen some progress in the position of women's movement but, for the most part, this did not continue for the generation of women who followed. Reasons for the movement Women had a very traditional role in US society In the 1950s. Indeed women who went out to work instead of getting married were treated with great suspicion by the rest of society. One very influential book, Modern Women: the Lost Sex actually blamed many of the social problems of the 1950s, such as teenage drinking and delinquency, on career women.

However, in the 1950s, growing numbers of women, especially from middle-class backgrounds, began to challenge their traditional role as they became increasingly frustrated with life as a housewife. There was more to life than bringing up children and looking after their husbands. Many female teenagers were strongly influenced by the greater freedom of the swinging sixties which, in turn, encouraged them to challenge traditional attitudes and roles. The contraceptive pill gave females much greater choice about when or whether to have children. This could be prevented or postponed whilst a woman pursued her career. Women were now much better educated so they could have a professional career. In 1950, there were 721,000 women at university. By 1960, this had reached 1.3 million. However, many of these had a very limited choice of career because, once they married, they were expected to devote their energies to their husband and children. In 1961, Eleanor Roosevelt, the widow of President Roosevelt, was asked by President Kennedy to lead a commission to investigate the status of women at work. The results were reported in 1963 and highlighted womens second class status in employment. For example, 95 per cent of company managers were men and 85 per cent of technical workers. Only seven per cent of doctors were women and even less, four per cent, lawyers. Women only earned 50 to 60 per cent of the wages of men who did the same job and generally had low-paid jobs. Eleanor Roosevelt and Betty Friedan

Betty Friedan had an even greater impact on the emergence of the womans movement with her book The Feminine Mystique, written in 1963. Her book expressed the thoughts of many women there was more to life than being a mother and housewife. Indeed the expression The Feminine Mystique was her term for the idea that a womans happiness was all tied up with her domestic role.

Friedan was important because she called for women to reject this mystique and called for progress in female employment opportunities. She insisted that bringing up a family should be a shared role which would enable the wife to pursue her career, if she wanted. In 1966 she set up the National Organisation for Women (NOW). Members of NOW believed that progress was too slow and that the Equal Opportunities Commission did not take female issues seriously. By the early 1970s, NOW had 40,000 members and had encouraged the formation of other groups such as the National Women's Caucus and the Women's Campaign Fund. They challenged discrimination in courts and, in a series of cases between 1966 and 1971, secured $30 million in back pay owed to women who had not been paid wags equal to men. For more information about the development of NOW, click here Achievements of women's movement The Equal Pay Act of 1963 required employers to pay women the same as men for the same job. However it did not address the issue of discrimination against women seeking jobs in the first place. The 1964 Civil Rights Act made it illegal to discriminate on the grounds of gender. The Equal Opportunities Commission did not take female discrimination seriously, so the Act was not fully enforced. The Educational Amendment Act of 1972 outlawed sex discrimination in education so that girls could follow exactly the same curriculum as boys. This, in turn, would give them greater career opportunities. It took a long time for schools to change their traditional curriculum and for the benefits to filter through to the education of girls. In 1972 the Supreme Court ruled that the US Constitution did give men and women equal rights.

The Womens Liberation Movement This was the name given to women who had far more extreme aims than NOW. They were also known as feminists and were much more active in challenging discrimination.

Indeed, the really extreme feminists wanted nothing to do with men. All signs of male supremacy were to be removed. These included male control of employment, politics and the media. They believed that even not wearing make-up was an act of protest against male supremacy and were determined to get as much publicity for their cause as possible. For example, they burned their bras as these were also seen as a symbol of male domination as well as their false eyelashes. In 1968, members picketed the Miss America beauty contest in Atlantic City and even crowned a sheep Miss America. The whole contest, they argued, degraded the position of women. The activities of the Womens Liberation Movement did more harm than good. Their extreme actions and protests brought the wrong sort of publicity. They were a distraction from the key issues of equal pay and better job opportunities. The media highlighted the wrong things such as the burning of bras in public. Abortion Abortion was illegal in the USA. Feminists challenged this, arguing it was wrong to force women to have a child they did not want, and began to challenge this through courts of law. The most important case was Roe v Wade which lasted from 1970 to 1973. A feminist lawyer, Sarah Weddington, defended the right of one of her clients, Norma McCorvey, named Jane Roe to protect her anonymity, to have an abortion. She already had three children, who had all been taken into care, and did not want any more children. She won the right to have an abortion. The victory led to abortions becoming more readily available. Opposition to the women's movement Some women opposed the womens movement: because they believed that NOW was dominated by white middle-class females who did not seem to be doing enough to help poor women. Others objected to the extreme demands and methods of the Womens Liberation Movement whilst a number genuinely believed in and accepted the traditional role of women. Phyllis Schafly was the most important opponent. She was an author and had been active in politics. She had worked as a researcher for several US politicians and had stood for Congress on several occasions between 1952 and 1970. She set up STOP ERA. ERA stood for the Equal Rights Amendment, proposed by NOW in 1967, to change the US Constitution to guarantee women equality. Phyllis organised a highly successful campaign to stop ERA and ensured that this amendment to the constitution was delayed until 1982 when, indeed, the amendment was finally defeated by three votes. She opposed ERA because it would require women to serve in combat and thought it would have a bad influence on family life.