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Lecture # 11

Civil Rights Struggles, Peace Protests,

and JFK and LBJ’s War in Vietnam, 1960-1968

1. What were the goals, achievements, and failures of the diverse 1960s Civil Rights Movement?

2. What are the circumstances of the assassination of JFK, Malcolm X, MLK, and RFK?

3. Why and how did America (JFK/LBJ administrations) get involved in the war in Vietnam? How did it support the South Vietnamese and fight on its own? What were the effects on Vietnam and America?


# 1 In the early 1960s, the continuing pressures of AA civil rights groups, plus growing public sympathy, forced the passage of new social justice (equality) legislation. Women, Latino Americans, Native Americans, and disabled Americans adapted AA civil rights tactics to achieve their own goals of equality. Meanwhile, the Cold War tensions between the US and the SU continued, as the two nations came into conflict in Germany and Cuba.

# 2 The fear of communist expansion led the US to become increasingly involved in Vietnam. This meant war—America’s longest war. As the war dragged on, American support began to erode. The combination of negative public opinion and the inability of the military to achieve clear-cut victory led to a gradual withdrawal from the war. Meanwhile, great social and cultural changes were taking place in many parts of American society.


# 1 The 1960s were a tumultuous era in American society. During this period: 1) the struggle for civil rights continued and broadened to other subgroups 2) the women’s rights movement organized 3) other groups, including Native Americans, struggled for equality 4) JFK’s New Frontier and LBJ’s Great Society programs expanded upon FDR’s New Deal, and 5) the Cold War affected foreign policy in Latin America

# 2 Fears of Communist expansion in Southeast Asia led to American involvement in the Vietnam War. During this period: 1) LBJ escalated the war 2) student protests became part of the anti-war movement 3) the political and social upheaval of the 1960s divided Americans and 4) Richard Milhous Nixon ((RMN)) oversaw a cease fire agreement that allowed for US withdrawal from Vietnam


1) Citizenship: How did the AA Civil Rights Movement inspire others to struggle to achieve greater equality?

2) Government: How did JFK and LBJ continue to expand upon traditions from the New Deal?

3) Foreign Policy: How did the antagonism between the US and the SU bring the two nations to the brink of war? Why did the US become involved in Vietnam? How did JFK, LBJ, and RMN impact the course of the war?

4) Change: What social and cultural changes developed in the 1960s?

5) Constitutional Principles: How did Congress expand and then limit the power of the POTUS in wartime?


John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Lyndon Baines Johnson, Richard M. Nixon, Henry Kissinger, James Meredith, Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., Cesar Chavez


civil disobedience, Civil Rights Act of 1964, Voting Rights Act of 1965, Equal Rights Amendment, Affirmative Action, United Farm Workers, American Indian Movement (AIM), mainstreaming, Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, New Frontier, Great Society, Bay of Pigs Invasion/Fiasco, Cuban Missile Crisis, Berlin Wall, Letter from a Birmingham Jail


Mapp v. Ohio (1961); Gideon v. Wainwright (1963); Miranda v. Arizona (1966); Tinker v. Des Moines (1969)


1. Historic election of 1960, cabinet, and family

2. The New Frontier: dreams and promises

a. Civil Rights Actions

1) James Meredith at the University of Mississippi (threats)

2) Public career of Dr. MLK, JR, Birmingham protest, “Letter from a Birmingham Letter

3) Assassination of Medgar Evers

4) March on Washington

3. Foreign policy and Cold War crises

a. Bay of Pigs Invasion/Fiasco

b. Vienna Summit/Berlin Wall

c. Cuban Missile Crisis

d. Laos and Vietnam

e. Latin America and the Alliance for Progress

f. Peace Corps

g. Launching the Race to the Moon

h. Nuclear Test Ban Treaty 1963, 1967; Hot Line established

4. Movement for rights of disabled citizens

a. Background

1) Historic attitude that disabled were defective

2) Emergence of humanitarian view in 19th century, developing of large institutions

3) Developing of the concept of normalization; early 20th century programs of education and training

b. Kennedy Administration, 1961-1963; beginning awareness, changing attitudes

1) President’s Council on Mental Retardation

2) Special Olympics

c. Litigation and legislation; 1960 to present

1) Education of the Handicapped Act, 1966

2) Education for All Handicapped Children Act, 1971

3) Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 504

4) Americans with Disabilities Act, 1990

d. Dependence to independence

1) Activism by disabled veterans

2) Deinstitutionalization

3) Mainstreaming

5. Assassination in Dallas


1. Expanding on the Kennedy social programs

a. War on Poverty; VISTA

b. Medicare

c. Federal aid to education

d. Environmental issues and concerns

2. The Moon landing; the challenge of space exploration

3. Continued AA demands for equality: Civil Rights Movement

a. Black protest, pride, and power

1) NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People); legal judicial leadership, Urban League

b. Case studies

1) SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee): sit –in movement among college students

2) SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Conference): promote nonviolent resistance, sit-ins, boycotts

3) CORE (Congress of Race Equality): “Freedom Riders”

4) Testing of segregation laws

5) Others: Black Muslims; prominence of Malcolm X: advocating separation of races, separate state in the US

6) Civil unrest: Example: Watts riot, 1965; Kerner Commission

7) Assassination of Malcolm X (2/1965)

c. Legislative impact

1) Civil Rights Act of 1964 (help: Heart of Atlanta Motel, Inc v. US, 1964)

2) 24th Amendment (eliminating the poll tax)

3) Voting Rights Act of 1965

4) Court decisions since 1948 upholding or modifying preferential treatment in employment; equal access to housing; travel and accommodations; voting rights; educational equity

5) Fair Housing Act of 1968

4. Demands for equality: women

a. The modern women’s movement

1) Kennedy Commission and the Civil Rights Act, 1963-1964

2) NOW (1966) to present

b. Issues

1) Shifting roles and images

2) Equal Rights Amendment (Failure to ratify---why?)

3) Roe v. Wade, 1973

4) Equality in the workplace: compensation, the glass ceiling

5) Increased focus on domestic abuse

5. Rising consciousness of Hispanic-Americans

a. “Brown Power” Movement

b. Organizing farm labor (Cesar Chavez)

c. Cuban and Haitian immigration

d. Increasing presence in American politics

6. Demands for equality: American Indian Movement (AIM) and other protests

a. Occupation of Alcatraz

b. The “long march”

c. Wounded Knee, 1973

7. SCOTUS rulings on rights of the accused

a. Mapp v. Ohio, 1961

b. Gideon v. Wainwright, 1963

c. Miranda v. Arizona, 1966

8. Legislative reapportionment

a. Baker v. Carr, 1962


1. The French-Indochinese War: early US involvement; Truman, Eisenhower, and Kennedy policies (review on foreign policy)

2. US and spread of communism: Domino Theory; creditability of other US commitments

3. Civil War in South Vietnam; concept of guerilla warfare

4. LBJ and Americanization of the war

a. Fear of “losing” Vietnam (like China and North Korea)

b. Escalation and US assumptions; Tet Offensive

5. Student protests at home

a. Draft protester

b. Political radicals: protests, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), antiwar

c. Cultural radicals: hippies and communalists

6. 1968: A year of turmoil

a. LBJ’s decision not to seek reelection

b. Assassination of MLK, Jr, (4/1968) and RFK (6/1968)

c. The Democratic Convention; war protesters disrupt Chicago proceedings; TV

d. Impact of the Vietnam War on society

a. reality of the time: not welcomed home or supported like WWII GIs

b. harsh memories, few memorials, the Wall

7. 1968 Election

a. Nixon over HHH (Dem) and spoiler George Wallace (shot)

b. Promises, lies, and leadership of Richard M. Nixon

a. Peace with honor, expansion and escalation of war, and vietnamization

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