The seventies were as much as a reaction to the sixties as the sixties were a reaction to the fifties. These events or trends would be a direct cause and effect of what happened the decade before. The fifties, sixties, and seventies were all similar, though progressing in every field.
The Civil Rights movement would begin in the fifties and last until the late sixties. In the fifties, African Americans were still considered as the inferior race and segregated in many places. In the fifties, a major break-through in the civil rights movement would rule segregation in schools as unconstitutional. The Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas would allow integration for schools. Handed down on May 17, 1954, the Warren Court’s unanimous (9-0) decision stated that “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.” Three years later in September of 1957, “the Little Rock Nine” wanted to enter Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, but were denied entrance. The Governor Faubus would then, employ the National Guard to support the segregationists. The next day President Eisenhower ordered the 101st Airborne Division of the United States Army to Little Rock and federalized the entire 10,000 member Arkansas National Guard, taking it out of the governors hands. The next day, the nine students were escorted to their classes. The civil rights movement would progress well into the 1960’s. Some well know figures in the movement would be Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. Both men had different demonstration methods. Martin Luther King was more peaceful and contributed more than Malcolm. In the 50’s, King would create the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which was an advocate for boycotts and other forms of non-violent protest. Martin Luther King would progress the civil rights movement into the 60’s. He would lead demonstration in Washington DC called the March on Washington in 1963. This civil rights demonstration would be were King would deliver his historic, I Have a Dream Speech. Martin Luther King’s life would be later cut short when he would be murdered by James Earl Ray on April 8th, 1968. Malcolm X was the complete opposite of King. While the civil rights movement fought against racial segregation, Malcolm X advocated the complete separation of African Americans from white people. He proposed the establishment of a separate country for black people until African Americans could return to Africa. Malcolm X also rejected the civil rights movement’s strategy of nonviolence and instead advocated that black people use any necessary means of self-defense to protect themselves. He would later be assassinated on February 21st, 1965. Throughout the decade, African Americans would gain more rights as citizens, and by the 70’s they were given more opportunities than ever before. Black musicians became famous such as Stevie wonder and Jimi Hendrix.
The Space Race
Another topic that impacted these decades was the space race. The cold war was a race of superiority between the United States and the Soviet Union. On July 29, 1958, President Eisenhower created the National Aeronautics and Space Administration or NASA for short. The creation of the space agency was in result of the Soviet Union being both the 1st ones to launch a satellite in to space as well as the 1st to launch a live animal. Sputnik 1 launched in October of 1957 would be the 1st earth orbiting satellite in space. A month later, Sputnik 2 would carry the 1st dog it to space called Laika. Upon re-entry the dog disintegrated. United States would have several failed attempts at sending a satellite into space until the Explorer 1 on January 31, 1958. Throughout the next decade, the United States would try to go to the moon. Eventually launching the Apollo program in 1961, the United States planned to have someone on the moon by the end of the decade. That feat became true on July 20th, 1969 when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin of Apollo 11 landed in the sea of tranquility, on the surface of the moon. The NASA program would continue and in the late seventies, they created a new shuttle program that would use reusable and land-able spacecrafts to orbit the earth. During the year of 1977, the shuttle program was starting to shape up and it seemed as if the United States would be the 1st to use a reusable shuttle.
The Cold War
Throughout these three decades two different wars plagued the United States. Both wars were Cold War conflicts and hurt the US economy. During the fifties, the United States fought a conflict in Korea, helping out the South Koreans. When Japan collapsed in 1945, Korea was divided into two sections: the Soviet Union controlled the northern section above the 38th parallel and the United States controlled southern section. On June 25, 1950, the North Korean army invaded South Korea. President Truman’s National Security Council had recommended NSC-68 (National Security Council Report 68), calling for the quadrupling of the United States’ defense spending. Truman ordered a huge military buildup, which was much more than what was necessary for the Korean War. NSC-68 was a key document of the Cold War because it not only marked a major step in the militarization of American foreign policy, but it reflected the sense of almost limitless possibility that encompassed postwar American society. On June 25, 1950, President Truman obtained from the United Nations Security Council a unanimous condemnation of North Korea as an agressor. Without Congress’s approval, Truman ordered American air and naval units to be sent to support South Korea. On September 15, 1950, General MacArthur succeeded in pushing the North Koreans past the 38th parallel. On November 1950, though, hordes of communist Chinese volunteers attacked the U.N. forces, pushing them back to the 38th parallel. Due to l MacArthur’s disagreement with the Joint Chiefs of Staff about increasing the size of the war, President Truman was forced to relief MacArthur from command in April of 1951. Eisenhower when running for office in 1952, promised to end the war in Korea. He would then win the presidency by a huge majority. True to his promise, President Eisenhower attempted to end the Korean War and In July 1953, after Eisenhower threatened to use nuclear weapons, an armistice was signed, ending the Korean War. Even though the armistice was signed, Korea was still split at the 38th parallel.
The Vietnam War
The Vietnam War would follow in the sixties and mid seventies. The Vietnam War was cold war conflict fought by the communist North Vietnam and South Vietnam, supported by the US. The war occurred in Vietnam, as well as Laos and Cambodia. As a result of the First Indochina War, the Geneva Conference was held to unify Vietnam and restore peace in Indochina. As part of the post-war settlement announced on July 21, 1954, Vietnam was temporarily partitioned into northern and southern zones at the 17th parallel. For 1956, elections were planned to re-unify these states, but the elections were never held. With the failure to implement universal elections to end temporary partitioning of the country conflict between the new ‘States’ of north and the South commenced and soon developed into the Vietnam War. The Gulf of Tonkin incident would bring greater US involvement into the struggle. On the evening of August 2, 1964, the USS Maddox was conducting an electronic intelligence collection mission in international waters, claimed by North Vietnam, in the Gulf of Tonkin when it was attacked by three P-4 torpedo boats of the North Vietnamese Navy. Two days later just before midnight, President Johnson would appear on television to announce retaliatory air strikes were underway against North Vietnamese naval and port facilities. Operation Rolling Thunder was the code name given to a strategic bombing campaign targeted against the North by aircraft of the US Air Force and Navy that was inaugurated on March 2, 1965. Its original purpose was to heighten the morale of the South Vietnamese and to serve as a signaling device to Hanoi. On November 27, 1965, the pentagon declared that if the major operations would have U.S. troop levels in South Vietnam increased from 120,000 to 400,000. Even though the US troops were stationed there to help the South Vietnamese, some did worse than help such as the My Lai massacre. The My Lai massacre was the mass murder conducted by a unit of the U.S. Army on March 16, 1968 of 347 to 504 unarmed citizens in South Vietnam, all of which were civilians and a majority of whom were women, children, babies, and old people. Richard Nixon would win the election of 1968 and promised to end the war in Vietnam. The war would later end up lasting another 5 years. 5 years later On January 15, 1973, showing progress in peace negotiations, Nixon announced the suspension of all offensive actions against North Vietnam, to be followed by a withdrawal of all U.S. troops. The Paris Peace Accords on “Ending the War and Restoring Peace in Vietnam” were signed on January 27, officially ending direct U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. After the United States pulled out their troops in a process called Vietnamization, South Vietnam’s capital would later fall to North Vietnam in 1975.
In conclusion the seventies were as much a reaction to the sixties as the sixties were to a reaction to the fifties. The Civil Rights movement improved rights for blacks through the fifties and the sixties brought more to the African Americans. The seventies would allow African Americans to slowly earn more opportunities than ever before. The space race also shaped American life. The Space race in the fifties was a part of the cold war. The Russians were 1st to launch a satellite in the fifties, yet as time progressed the United States would be the 1st to land on the moon in the 60’s. By the seventies, the United States would begin testing for their very successful shuttle program. Even though this conflict wasn’t fought head to head, others in the cold war were. From 1950-1953 the United States fought the Korean War. Their goal was to prevent the spread of communism into South Korea. From 1955-1975, the United States would fight the Vietnam War, hoping to prevent the spread of communism into South Vietnam. The Vietnam War occurred because what happened the decade before. So, the seventies were as much a reaction to the sixties as the sixties were to a reaction to the fifties.