Their movement grew: more and more demonstrators went back to that lunch counter daily, and tens of thousands blocked isolated hotels and shops within the upper South. The protesters drew the country’s attention to the injustice, brutality and fickleness which characterized Jim Crow. The national government kept away from the civil rights struggle until 1964, when President Johnson tabled Civil Rights Act via Congress which was against discrimination within public places, authorized the Justice Department to sue states which discriminated against women and minority groups and promised equal opportunities within the workplace to everyone. The next year, the Voting Rights Act scrapped away poll taxes, literacy requirement and other tools which the southern whites had historically used to keep blacks from voting (Gilmore, Glenda and Sugrue, 2016).
However, these laws failed to solve the issues which the African Americans were facing. The law failed to bring to an end racism or poverty and they didn’t enhance the living conditions many black urban neighborhoods. Majority of the leaders of the black started to rethink their aims, and a section of them embraced a more militant idea of separatism and self-defense.
Towards the end of the decade, more Americans protested against the war in Vietnam. Many people in America held the belief that America had no reason to get involved in a war which was very far away from home (Gilmore, Glenda and Sugrue, 2016). Female activists demanded additional rights for the women and whose role within society started to change. The birth control pill and other contraceptives were made available and which made it possible for women to plan their careers and have babies when they were ready.
The 1960s impacted greatly US politics after the assassination of famous leaders. John F. Kennedy, who was the 1st Catholic President in American history and who was assassinated in Dallas in 1963. When Kennedy was assassinated in nineteen sixty-three, majority of the people in America held the belief that all their hopes died, too. This was more so true among the young people, and members and supporters of minority communities. When his brother Robert ran for presidency in 1968 he too got assassinated in California. The two murders led to increased riots in cities across USA (Gilmore, Glenda and Sugrue, 2016). The unrest and violence impacted greatly many young Americans. The effect seemed especially worse because of the time in which they had grown up. A few months before, civil rights leader Martin Luther King, who played a crucial role for African Americans than any other person before him, was also killed in Memphis, Tennessee.
As time went on, the civil rights movement started to fragment. The legal and political gains never translated to immediate economic and social advances. Black neighborhoods were still plagued by crime and drug addiction, fatherless homes, and intense frustration and alienation. Five days after the enactment of the Voting Rights Act, Watts, a black neighborhood in Los Angeles, witnessed chaos, looting, arson, and violence (Gilmore, Glenda and Sugrue, 2016). In the coming three years, over 300 race riots occurred within the inner-city societies in USA. For most urban blacks who lived outside South, the mainstream civil rights movement brought minimal tangible improvement in their lives. Majority of the African Americans lived not in the rural South but within the inner-city neighborhoods across America, in major cities like New York, Philadelphia, Detroit Chicago, and Los Angeles (Gilmore, Glenda and Sugrue, 2016). Blacks who lived in urban ghettos underwent chronic poverty, joblessness, and police brutality.
President Dwight Eisenhower’s warning against overspending
On Jan, 1961, President Dwight Eisenhower gave an address to the nations regarding the dire warning about what he defined as a threat to democratic government. He called it the military-industrial complex, a formidable union of defense contractors and the armed forces (Gilmore, Glenda and Sugrue, 2016). Eisenhower was concerned regarding the expenses of an arms race with the Soviet Union, and the resources it might take away from other areas — like building hospitals and schools. Eisenhower arguments against overspending when it comes to military was well captured when he said that, for each gun made, each warship launched, each rocket fired signifies, in the final analysis, is a theft from people who are hungry, those who are out there in the cold and do not have clothes.
He went on to note that military overspending involves spending on the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its kids. He added that the nation is paying for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat. The country is paying for a single destroyer with new houses which might have provided shelter to over 8,000 people. He concluded by pointing out that this is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Within the cloud of risking war, it’s humanity hanging from a cross of iron (Gilmore, Glenda and Sugrue, 2016).
From the above sentiments by President Dwight Eisenhower, he seemed to be against the heavy spending channeled towards military upgrading at the expense of other people. The heavy spending on upgrading military equipments has resulted to heavy suffering on the part of other people in terms of people are sleeping hungry, sleeping out on the cold and impacting negatively on other sectors of the economy (Gilmore, Glenda and Sugrue, 2016). The heavy spending on upgrading military equipments means that certain sectors of the economy receive less financial aid hence they are prone to performing poorly. In his concluding remarks, President Dwight Eisenhower pointed there needs to be another way which does not impact the wellbeing of the common man and the economy of the nation and also ensures that the nation’s military department has sufficient resources to deal with any threat to the nation.
President Dwight Eisenhower is advocating for a balance when it comes to balancing military spending and taking into consideration the needs of the public. He advocates for there to be no situation whereby the public suffers due to heavy spending directed on the military (Gilmore, Glenda and Sugrue, 2016).
John F. Kennedy’s desire to “pay any price
John F. Kennedy’s inaugural speech was not only short, but also broadly considered as among the most powerful. He emphasized the need for peace, like calling for Soviet cooperation to end the threat of war and nuclear destruction, while also underscoring America’s desire to lead and work from a position of strength. His remarks on desire to pay any price entailed: The importance of individual and regional freedom as the primary tenets of democracy. He likened the period’s fights for civil rights to free oppressed nations overseas and to rid the globe of the risk of nuclear war to the original USA revolution. Kennedy’s remarks on pay any price also entailed lifting people out of poverty and freeing them from colonial or tyrannical oppression. These primary themes are captured in the famous phrase “trumpet summons us again … struggle against the common enemies of human: tyranny, poverty, illnesses and war itself.”
His remarks on pay any price also entailed the call to every American to rise up to greatness and realize their greatest potential, both at a personal and national level. He stated clearly that, “The torch has been handed over to the next generation of Americans” to fight for the growth of democratic freedom and prosperity globally, and to defeat any efforts by others to erode human/civil rights globally.
President Lyndon B. Johnson and his Great Society speech.
Johnson managed to convince Congress to develop and implement broad range of programs after the assassination of Kennedy. Having been brought up from a poor background, the president knew initially what poverty entails, and he declared a war on poverty early in 1964 via the Economic Opportunity Act (Milkis, 2005). The act gave cash for the Job Corps that secured jobs for inner city youths; created the Head Start program, to give disadvantaged preschoolers an early chance in education; and create domestic prototype of the Peace Corps also called VISTA, or Volunteers in Service to USA.
Johnson’s Great Society also handled the issue of racial injustice. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 sought to bring to an end segregation within public accommodations, gave permission the attorney general to file suits to desegregate schools, and establish the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to probe complaints of about discrimination in the workplace.
The Great Society that Johnson envisioned was a nation whereby poverty, disease, and racial injustice would be done away with via government reforms (Milkis, 2005). Unfortunately, Johnson’s domestic initiatives fell victim to widening crisis in Vietnam that drained valuable resources and eliminated Johnson’s public support.
Gilmore, Glenda E, and Thomas J. Sugrue. These United States: A Nation in the Making, 1945 to the Present. , 2016. Print.
Milkis, Sidney M. The Great Society and the High Tide of Liberalism. Amherst, Mass. [u.a.: Univ. of Massachusetts Press, 2005. Print