Led by John Lewis, and organized in the fall of 1960 by Robert Moses as a student civil rights movement inspired by sit-ins, it challenged the status quo and walked the back roads of Mississippi and Georgia to encourage Blacks to resist segregation and to register to vote.
-Dedicated to replacing the culture of segregation with a “beloved community” of racial justice and to empowering ordinary blacks to take control of the decisions that affected their lives.
Emerged from a series of student meetings led by Ella Baker held at Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina in April 1960. SNCC grew into a large organization with many supporters in the North who helped raise funds to support SNCC’s work in the South, allowing full-time SNCC workers to have a $10 a week salary SNCC played a major role in the sit-ins and freedom rides, a leading role in the 1963 March on Washington, Mississippi Freedom Summer, and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party over the next few years. SNCC’s major contribution was in its field work, organizing voter registration drives all over the South, especially in Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi.
Riders rode interstate buses into the segregated southern Uniteed States to test the US Supreme Court decision Boynton v. Virginia. It left Washington D.C. and was planned to arrive in New Orleans about two weeks later. Because it was intestate travel, the segregation of public transportation became a federal issue. The Freedom Rides and the violent reactions they provoked bolstered the credibility of the American Civil Rights Movement and called national attention to it.
-A public-works program to reduce unemployment, an increase in the minimum wage, and a law barring discrimination in employment. Their slogan was, “Jobs and Freedom.” For a moment, the black movement forged an alliance with white liberal groups.
-It reflected an unprecedented degree of black and white cooperation in support of racial and economic justice, but also revealed some of the movement’s limitations, and the tension within it.
-This lessened Kennedy’s passion for the Cold War.
-Held the New Deal view that government had an obligation to assist less-fortunate members of society.
-Passed the Civil Rights Act in 1964 just five days after Kennedy’s assassination.
-It prohibited racial discrimination in employment, institutions like hospitals and schools, and privately owned public accommodations such as restaurants, hotels, and theaters as well as banning discrimination on the grounds of sex.
-Johnson won the 1964 election with a sweeping victory over Democrat Goldwater; this marked the resurgence of American conservatism.
-The Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965, due to King’s attempt to lead a march from Selma Alabama to the state’s capitol, Montgomery where the state police were televised assaulting the marchers with cattle prods, whips and tear gas.
-The Hart Cellar Act (1965)- abandoned the national-origins quota system of immigration, which had excluded Asians and severely restricted southern and eastern Europeans. The law established new, racially neutral criteria for immigration, notably family reunification and possession of skills in demand in the US. The Law also established the first limit, 120,000 on newcomers from the Western Hemisphere. This created, for the first time, the category of “illegal aliens” from the Americas. The Act set the quota for the rest of the world at 170,00. Immigration, however, because of special provisions for refugees from communist countries, exceeded those caps.
-In 1964 Johnson outline the most sweeping proposal for governmental action to promote general welfare since the New Deal. His initiatives of 1965-1967 were known collectively as the Great Society.
-The acts of the GREAT SOCIETY provided health care services to the poor and elderly in the new Medicaid and Medicare programs and poured federal funds into education and urban development. New cabinet offices-the Departments of Transportation and of Housing and Urban Development-and new agencies, such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the National Endowment for the Humanities and for the Arts, and a national public broadcasting network, were created.
-These measures greatly expanded the powers of the federal government, and they completed and extended the social agenda (with the exception of health insurance) that had been stalled in Congress since 1938.
-Unlike the New Deal, however, the Great Society was a response to prosperity, not depression.
-Johnson and Democratic liberals believed that economic growth made it possible to fund ambitious new government programs.
-Centerpiece of Great Society was WAR ON POVERTY, launched by Johnson at the beginning of 1964.
-Harrington’s The Other America (1962) and the civil rights movement drew attention to the poor who were isolated in rural areas and urban slums, and inspired the War on Poverty.
-War on Poverty did consider the most direct ways of eliminating poverty: guaranteeing an annual income for all Americans, creating jobs for the unemployed, promoting the spread of unionization, or making it more difficult for businesses to shift production to the low wage South or overseas.
-It also did not address the economic changes the changes that were reducing the number of well-paid manufacturing jobs and leaving poor families in rural areas and urban ghettos.
-The direct aid to the poor that it offered came in the form of food stamps. This was a popular and widely successful component of the WOP.
-The focus of the WOP however, was not on directly providing economic aid to the poor, but on equipping the poor with skills and rebuilding their spirit and motivation. It did this through establishing the Office of Economic Opportunities which oversaw the implementation of programs such as: Head Start (and early childhood education program), job training,legal services, and scholarships for poor college students.
-VISTA, a domestic version of the Peace Corps for inner cities, was created.
-The WOP echoed SNCC’s philosophy of empowering ordinary individuals to take controls of their lives, but requiring poor people to play a leading part in the design and implementation of local policies.
-John’s Great Society did not achieve equality “as a fact” but it represented a remarkable reaffirmation of the idea of social citizenship. It was the most expansive effort in the nation’s history to mobilize the powers of national government to address the needs of the least-advantaged Americans, especially those, like blacks, largely excluded from the original New Deal entitlements, such as Social Security.
-The War of Poverty succeeded in reducing the incidence of poverty from 22 percent to 13 percent of American families in the 1960s, but could not end poverty altogether or transform conditions of life in poor urban neighborhoods.
-Vietnam War (Lyndon Johnson’s War)
-Fear that the public would not forgive them for “losing” Vietnam made it impossible for Presidents Kennedy and Johnson to remove the US from an increasingly untenable situation.
-Kennedy’s foreign policy advisors saw Vietnam as a test of whether the US could, through “counter-insurgency”-intervention to counter internal uprisings in noncommunist countries- halt the spread of Third World Revolutions.
-Johnson came into his presidency with little experience in foreign relations; he had misgivings about sending American troops to Vietnam, but was committed to not let Southeast Asia go, and China went under Truman’s administration.
-In 1964, the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution was passed which authorized Johnson to take “all necessary measures to repel armed attack” in Vietnam.
-After Johnson’s reelection, the National Security Council recommended that the US begin air strikes against North Vietnam and introduce American ground troops in the south. When the Viet Cong attacked an American air base in South Vietnam in February in 1965, Johnson effectuated the plan as well as intervened in the Dominican Republic.
-Fearing the unrest would lead to another “Cuba” Johnson dispatched 22,000 American troops to Vietnam.
Who? Kennedy began foreign policy, Johnson continued involvement in Vietnam, Nikon ultimately ended the war with the Paris Peace agreement in 1973.
At this point, the United States’ Cold War foreign policy began to play a major part in Vietnam. U.S. policy at the time was dominated by the domino theory, which believed that the “fall” of North Vietnam to Communism might trigger all of Southeast Asia to fall, setting off a sort of Communist chain reaction. Within a year of the Geneva Accords, the United States therefore began to offer support to the anti-Communist politician Ngo Dinh Diem. With U.S. assistance, Diem took control of the South Vietnamese government in 1955, declared the Republic of Vietnam, and promptly canceled the elections that had been scheduled for 1956.
The Diem Regime
Diem’s regime proved corrupt, oppressive, and extremely unpopular. Nonetheless, the United States continued to prop it up, fearful of the increasing Communist resistance activity it noted in South Vietnam. This resistance against Diem’s regime was organized by the Ho Chi Minh-backed National Liberation Front, which became more commonly known as the Viet Cong.
In 1962, U.S. president John F. Kennedy sent American “military advisors” to Vietnam to help train the South Vietnamese army, the ARVN, but quickly realized that the Diem regime was unsalvageable. Therefore, in 1963, the United States backed a coup that overthrew Diem and installed a new leader. The new U.S.-backed leaders proved just as corrupt and ineffective.
Johnson and U.S. Escalation
Kennedy’s successor, Lyndon B. Johnson, pledged to honor Kennedy’s commitments but hoped to keep U.S. involvement in Vietnam to a minimum. After North Vietnamese forces allegedly attacked U.S. Navy ships in the Gulf of Tonkin in 1964, however, Johnson was given carte blanche in the form of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution and began to send U.S. troops to Vietnam. Bombing campaigns such as 1965’s Operation Rolling Thunder ensued, and the conflict escalated. Johnson’s “Americanization” of the war led to a presence of nearly 400,000 U.S. troops in Vietnam by the end of 1966.
Quagmire and Attrition
As the United States became increasingly mired in Vietnam, it pursued a strategy of attrition, attempting to bury the Vietnamese Communist forces under an avalanche of casualties. However, the Viet Cong’s guerrilla tactics frustrated and demoralized U.S. troops, while its dispersed, largely rural presence left American bomber planes with few targets. The United States therefore used unconventional weapons such as napalm and the herbicide defoliant Agent Orange but still managed to make little headway.
The Tet Offensive
In 1968, the North Vietnamese Army and the Viet Cong launched a massive campaign called the Tet Offensive, attacking nearly thirty U.S. targets and dozens of other cities in South Vietnam at once. Although the United States pushed back the offensive and won a tactical victory, American media coverage characterized the conflict as a defeat, and U.S. public support for the war plummeted. Morale among U.S. troops also hit an all-time low, manifesting itself tragically in the 1968 My Lai Massacre, in which frustrated U.S. soldiers killed hundreds of unarmed Vietnamese civilians in a small village.
The Antiwar Movement
Meanwhile, the antiwar movement within the United States gained momentum as student protesters, countercultural hippies, and even many mainstream Americans denounced the war. Protests against the war and the military draft grew increasingly violent, resulting in police brutality outside the Democratic National Convention in 1968 and the deaths of four students at Kent State University in 1970 when Ohio National Guardsmen fired on a crowd. Despite the protests, Johnson’s successor, President Richard M. Nixon, declared that a “silent majority” of Americans still supported the war.
Vietnamization and U.S. Withdrawal
Nonetheless, Nixon promoted a policy of Vietnamization of the war, promising to withdraw U.S. troops gradually and hand over management of the war effort to the South Vietnamese. Although Nixon made good on his promise, he also illegally expanded the geographic scope of the war by authorizing the bombing of Viet Cong sites in the neutral nations of Cambodia and Laos, all without the knowledge or consent of the U.S. Congress. The revelation of these illegal actions, along with the publication of the secret Pentagon Papers in U.S. newspapers in 1971, caused an enormous scandal in the United States and forced Nixon to push for a peace settlement.
The Cease-fire and the Fall of Saigon
After secret negotiations between U.S. emissary Henry A. Kissinger and North Vietnamese representative Le Duc Tho in 1972, Nixon engaged in diplomatic maneuvering with China and the USSR—and stepped up bombing of North Vietnam—to pressure the North Vietnamese into a settlement. This cease-fire was finally signed in January 1973, and the last U.S. military personnel left Vietnam in March 1973.
The U.S. government continued to fund the South Vietnamese army, but this funding quickly dwindled. Meanwhile, as President Nixon became embroiled in the Watergate scandal that led to his resignation in August 1974, North Vietnamese forces stepped up their attacks on the South and finally launched an all-out offensive in the spring of 1975. On April 30, 1975, the South Vietnamese capital of Saigon fell to the North Vietnamese, who reunited the country under Communist rule as the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, ending the Vietnam War.