The 1960s
The 1960s
Trends and Themes of the Era
  • Democrats, who held the presidency in the 1960s, tried to bring about the liberal social reforms that were the hallmarks of their party’s philosophy.
  • Led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the civil rights movement achieved its greatest successes, culminating in the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The civil rights movement gained massive public support and helped convince the nation of the power of social action.
  • The Cold War continued throughout the decade, and nearly erupted in nuclear war during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. Cold War anxieties and concerns over Soviet domination in Asia led to the buildup of American forces in Vietnam and the Vietnam War.
  • In the tradition of social action built during the civil rights movement and in response to U.S. involvement in a foreign war that took over 50,000 American lives and seemed unwinnable, a vocal minority of Americans formed the antiwar movement. Supporters and critics of the war often opposed each other bitterly.
  • The 1960s was a time of dramatic social engagement and action. In addition to the civil rights and antiwar movements, a powerful women’s rights movement also took root.
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