Political issues in the '60s
Published on: Mar 4, 2016
Transcripts - Political issues in the '60s
in the sixties
The Civil Rights Movement
When the 60's began, two main groups, the National Association for the
Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and Martin Luther King's Southern
Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) had already been hard at work on a
variety of desegregation efforts in public facilities, transportation, and
schools. Attacks on segregation continued to spread through the efforts of
new groups. The struggle for black civil rights is, however, seen as one of the
most significant social and political issue ever faced.
A political event that occurred in 1963 was Martin Luther King’s famous
“I have a dream” speech. More than 200,000 peaceful demonstrators came to
Washington, D.C. to demand equal rights for blacks and whites. The fight for
racial equality moved closer to victory.
“I have a dream that my four little children will me day live in a nation where
they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their
character. I have a dream...”
Nelson Mandela, the leader of the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa,
was arrested in 1962 and sentenced to five years' imprisonment and then to life
imprisonment. From 1964 to 1982, he was incarcerated at Robben Island
Prison; thereafter, he was at Pollsmoor Prison. During his years in prison,
Nelson Mandela's reputation grew steadily. He was widely accepted as the most
significant black leader in South Africa and became a great symbol of
resistance as the anti-apartheid movement gained strenght. Nelson Mandela
was released on February 11, 1990. In 1991, at the first national conference of
the African National Congress held inside South Africa after the organization
had been banned in 1960, Mandela was elected President of the ANC.
Race discrimination laws were tightened in 1968, making it
illegal to refuse housing, employment or public services to people
because of their ethnic background. Discrimination was and is still a
problem, but nowadays we have more laws against racism and there's
more acceptance thanks to these movements.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy
The '60s began with a race for President, and John F. Kennedy won in 1961 by
promising to keep the U.S. ahead of the Soviet Union in the Space Race and Cold
War. JFK was the first "television President": with his charm and good looks he
took full advantage of that medium to capture the hearts of Americans (the
relationship he shared with America has often been referred to as a love affair).
JFK inspired in many a powerful optimism and idealism. His life and presidency
were cut short, however, by an assassin's bullet on November 22, 1963.
All through the '60s, political awareness was seen as a civic duty. In theory, all
American men over 21 had the right to vote after 1870. Actually, it took
multiple laws in the '50s and '60s, plus a constitutional amendment in '64, to
remove barriers for black voters. In 1964, the first male Baby-Boomers turned
18, old enough to be sent to Vietnam but three years too young to vote against
the war. In 1971, the voting age was lowered to 18.
The Cold War
The Cold War is the relationship
that developed primarily between
the USA and the USSR
after World War Two.
The Cold War was to dominate
international affairs for decades
and many major crises occurred.
For many, the growth
in weapons of mass destruction
was the most worrying issue.
Thousands of protesters gathered
in Trafalgar Square to protest against
the hydrogen bomb in April 1960.
It was the largest demonstration
London had seen that century.
In 1961 the first American soldier was killed in the Vietnam War. This
conflict lasted until American troops were finally withdrawn by President
Nixon in 1973. This catastrophic war took a total of three million Vietnamese
lives (military and civilian) and 58,000 US lives. The anti-war movement was
widely embraced by hippies.
In 1961, an armed force of about 1,500 Cuban exiles,
supported by the U.S. government, landed in
the Bay of Pigs on the south coast of Cuba.
The rebels intended to foment an insurrection in Cuba
and overthrow the Communist regime
of Fidel Castro. The Cuban army easily defeated
the rebels and most were either killed or captured.
Poorly planned and executed, the invasion caused
President Kennedy severe criticism.
In 1962, the Soviet Union began shipping
nuclear missiles to Cuba, where they
could be aimed at the United States. When
JFK found out about these missiles, he
imposed a naval quarantine on Cuba and
pondered an invasion. For two weeks, the
world was on the edge of nuclear war, until
Khrushchev (Soviet Union's leader) finally
agreed to remove the missiles, ending the
The Berlin Wall
Troops in East Germany sealed the border between East and West Berlin in
Germany in 1961 creating the Berlin Wall. It wasn't pulled down until 1989.
Second wave feminism
The women's liberation movement was the collective struggle for equality that
aimed to free women from oppression and male supremacy. In local
communities, in the media and in women’s personal situations, 1960s feminists
inspired political action and changed many women’s lives. Sex discrimination
got prohibited. The Food and Drug Administration in the U.S. approved the first
oral contraceptive, commonly known as "the Pill," for birth control. Women
demanded legal abortion, education, but above all they wanted equality and