Edexcel iGCSE History Revison: A Divided Union: Civil Rights in the USA, 1945-1974

A* Quality Notes on iGCSE Topic A8: A Divided Union: Civil Rights in the USA, 1945-1974

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Edexcel iGCSE History
Topic A8: A Divided Union: Civil Rights in the USA
Revision Notes Produced by Ben Tavener
· McCarthyism and the Red Scare
· Civil Rights in the 1950s
· The impact of Martin Luther King and Black Power
· Protest movements: Students and Women Protests
· Nixon and the Watergate Scandal
McCarthyism and the Red Scare

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Reasons for the Red Scare:
Many people in America were against communism because they felt it went against the ideas of the
American Dream. If it spread to the USA people felt it would threaten their way of life.
Between 1945 and 1955 events outside of the USA led people to think that communism was spreading
very quickly:
· 1948 Czechoslovakia became Communist under the influence of the Soviet Union.
· The Berlin Blockade of 1948 ­ 49.…read more

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He claimed that people who didn`t believe him were being "soft` on
· Many ordinary people believed McCarthy and saw him as a crusader against communism. Politicians
often didn`t like him but were too afraid to speak out against him as they were scared of being
labelled as communists themselves.
Why did McCarthy lose support?
· By the end of 1954 McCarthy had lost much of his support
· McCarthy didn't actually have any hard evidence to support his claims.…read more

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Little Rock High School (1957)
What were the key features of the events at Little Rock High School?
· This was the first real test of the Brown vs Topeka ruling.
· Nine black students tried to attend their local all white school (including Elizabeth Eckford).
· Orval Faubus (the State Governor) stopped them by surrounding the school with state troops.
· Faubus was forced to remove the troops, but they were replaced by a violent mob of about 1000 white
people.…read more

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The peaceful protesters ­ including children - were attacked by police dogs and fire hoses.
They were sent by the police chief, Bull Connor. The protest was significant because the President
(Kennedy) was forced to get involved. It also led to the creation of a Civil Rights Bill.
The voting Rights Act
1965- Voting Rights Act was passed, which set up a national literacy tests for blacks & Whites
registering to vote.…read more

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In what ways did Martin Luther King's campaign change by the late 1960s?
After the great successes of 1964 and 1965, King began to change his focus:
· He began to concentrate on trying to improve living conditions, wages and jobs for the poor, focusing
more on the northern cities than before.
· He opposed the Vietnam War because it cost so much money - money he thought could be spent on
black people. This lost him the support of some people.…read more

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They went on marches and organised petitions, appeals to the Supreme Court, demonstrations, etc.
· Other women were more radical and even believed that not wearing make- up was an act of protest
against male supremacy. These women ­ often known as feminists ­ burned their bras because they
saw them as a symbol of male domination. However, these women often did more harm than good
because they caused a distraction from the key issues of equal pay and job opportunities.…read more

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The Students for a Democractic Society (SDS) was set up by Tom Hayden to give students a greater
say in the ways universities were run. They also wanted to help poorer people and protested against
the Vietnam War.
· Lots of students joined the civil rights campaigns.
· Anti-Vietnam War protests. These were probably the biggest and most important protests organized by
students. For example, in 1969, 700,000 marched in Washington against the war.…read more

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The tapes proved that Nixon had lied and that he had tried to prevent the investigation, but not that
he had known about the original break in and bugging. Nixon resigned in August 1974 to avoid the
disgrace of impeachment.
What were the effects of the Watergate Scandal?
· It was one a series of revelations about US presidents that hit Americans very hard.…read more


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