GCSE History: Unit 3c; A Divided Union? The USA 1945-70

Notes on the USA from 1945-70

  • Created by: grace
  • Created on: 09-06-12 09:48

Source Technique: How to answer each question 1-3

Question one is worth 6 marks and requires you to make inferences from the source. It will typically ask, 'what can you learn from...?'. You need to make one or preferably two supported inferences, with quotes from key words or phrases to back up your points. No knowledge is needed. To start sentences, it is best to use 'I can learn that...' or 'The sources suggest that...'. You should spend no more that 8 minutes on question one.

Question two is worth 8 marks and requires you to consider the purpose of the source. It will typically ask, 'what was the purpose of...?'. You must identify and explain the background source and use own knowledge to explain the background of the source. To gain an A or A* you must also make sure you clearly and separately explain what the purpose of the source is. To start sentences, it is best to use 'The key message of the source is...', 'This is suggested by...', 'The purpose of the source is...'. You should spend no more than 12 minutes on question two.

Question three is worth 10 marks and requires you to cross-reference sources. It will typically ask, 'how far do these sources agree...?'. You must identify and explain things which agree and disagree within the sources. Try to say something about how far they agree and how typical or reliable the sources are. You must spend no more than 15 minutes on question three.

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Source Technique: How to answer each question 4-5

Question 4 is worth 10 marks and requires you to evaluate the utility or reliability of sources. It will typically ask,'how useful are the sources...?'. You must discuss the usefulness of the sources to us as historians by identifying and explaining the key message, the nature (what is it? - song, poster, speech, diary entry), origin (who produced it?) and the purpose (why was it produced?) of the source. If you can, discuss how typical or reliable the source is. Try to include own knowledge. You gain full marks you must reach a judgement about the usefulness of the source by discuss how the nature, origin, or purpose makes it more or less typical/reliable. You should spend no more than 15 minutes on question 4.

Question 5 is worth 16 marks and requires you to write in the form of a comparative essay, inwhich you must identify and explain from the sources, which agree/disagree with the statement given in the question. Consider how reliable or typical the sources you discuss are. Include own knowledge. End by showing judgement about the statement - do you agree or disagree? You should spend at least 25 minutes on this question and consider both sides of the statement.

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Source Technique

Making inferences from sources: When you read or look at a source and you understand it's content, you are 'comprehending' that source. When you make a judgement from what the source says or shows, that is making an inference.

Considering the purpose of a source: It is important for historians to understand why sources have been created. Sometimes people are just recording what has happened, but sometimes they are created to get a message across. For example, when a cartoonist sits down and draws a cartoon, he or she is doing so in order to get a message across.

Cross-referencing sources: This is when you compare three sources by looking at the information within them. Let us use our two previous sources and add a third to work out what this means. You task is to study them and say how they do or do not agree.

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Source Technique

Evaluating the utility or reliability of sources: You have to make sure you know the difference between utility and reliability. Utility is usefulness and is about what you can find out from a source. Reliability is whether you can believe it. You should mention both of these in your answers.

Evaluating a hypothesis: The final question will ask you to consider whether the sources support a hypothesis. For this question you need to consider the evidence for and against the statement provided by the sources, and also consider the typicality and reliability of the sources.

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Impact of the Cold War: Rivals and Early events

The cold war was a long period of hostility between the USA and USSR post-1945.

The USA and USSR became rivals after World War Two:

The USA and USSR were allies during the Second World War. After the war, they were the two biggest powers in the world - called the superpowers. They soon became rivals. Ideologically, they were very different. The USA was capitalist. The USSR was communist.

Early events in the Cold War:

In the aftermath of the war, the USSR developed a large influence in Eastern Europe. Most Eastern countries had communist governments installed by the USSR. In 1947, President Trumen promised support to countries threatened by communist takeover, known as the Truman Doctrine. He also gave economic aid to Western European countries - hoping this would protect them from communist influence. This was called the Marshall Plan. There was crisis in Berlin in 1948-1949. The USSR, USA, France and Britain each had a zone thy controlled in post-war Berlin. The USSR was angry when the other three decided to combine their zones. The USSR stopped supplies getting by land to western Berlin. In 1949, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was formed - a defensive alliance between America and Western European countries.

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Impact of the Cold War: Events in the Far East

Events in the Far East made the Cold War Worse:

Communists came to power in China in 1949. They were led by Mao Tse-tung. In 1950, communist North Korea invaded non-communist South Korea. The United Nations intervened to stop the communists taking over South Korea. Once the UN forces had pushes them back past the original border, the communist Chinese sent an army to help the North. The US General MacArthur, in charge of the UN forces, wanted to hit back at China itself. President Truman, afraid of starting World War 3, refused and insisted on a limited war. In 1953, the Korean War ended the pre-war border restored.

Americans' fear of Communism increased:

American suspicions of the USSR grew - they thought it wanted world domination. Under the 1947 federal employee loyalty programme, government employees were subjected to security checks. Their loyalty was questioned if they belonged to organisations with liberal ideas on race, disarmament or workers' rights. Alger Hiss, a former senior member of the US state department, was accused of spying and imprisoned for lying in court in 1950. This was an embarrassment to the US government. By the 1950's, concerns about the communism had started to cause a climate of fear and panic in the USA - called the Red Scare.

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McCarthyism and the Red Scare: HUAC

There was a red scare in the 1950s - people were panicked by th communist threat.

The HUAC hunted for American Communists:

The House Un-American Activities Committe (HUAC) was set up to investigate subversive activities. During the 1940s and 1950s it became focused on finding communists in the USA. In 1947, HUAC began investigating the film industry, asking suspects at its hearings, "Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?". A group of directors and writers who refused to answer were blacklisted and jailed. They became known as the Hollywood Ten. Hundreds more people were blacklisted in the following years. Some actors like Humphrey Bogart supported the Hollywood Ten - but it didn't make any difference in the end. Some of those blacklisted went to Europe to find work. Blacklisting also happened in broadcasting, schools and universities.

The FBI also investigated communists in America: J Edgar Hoover, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), was obsessed with 'subversives'. He kept thousands of secret dossiers on left-wing activities and thinkers, including six Nobel Prize-winning authors. The FBI conducted loyalty probes of millions of government employees.

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McCarthyism and the Red Scare: McCarthy made accus

McCarthy made accusations with little evidence:

In 1950, Senator McCarthy gave a speech during which he waved what he claimed was a list of 205 communists in the State Department (the US Foreign Office). He claimed some were giving information to the USSR - putting America at risk. No one ever got a look at the list and many accusations were never proved. But newspapers published his allegations, and many people believed him. McCarthy investigated possible communists. During Senate hearings, he intimidated witnesses and pressured people to accuse others. He destroyed the careers of thousands of people. McCarthy's activities were made possible by an already existing climate of fear. China had gone communist. The Russians had the bomb. And in 1951, two members of the US Communist Party, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, we're convicted of passing atomic secrets to the Russians. They were executed in 1953.


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McCarthyism and the Red Scare: McCarthy loses popu

McCarthy lost popularity because of his bullying tactics:

In 1953, McCarthy turned on the Army, accusing it of covering up communist infiltration. In the televised Army-McCarthy hearings in 1954, his bullying of a witness turned public opinion against him. His Senate colleagues finally voted 67-22 to censure him in December 1954. However, anti-communist feeling remained strong. The Communist Control Act in 1954 allowed dismissal from the civil service for political beliefs.

The playwright Arthur Miller was blacklisted for refusing to give information to HUAC. He wrote a plat called 'The Crucible' about at 17th century witch hunt - a symbol for McCarthyism.

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The Civil Rights Struggle: African Americans in WW

In the 1940s and 1950s, African Americans were still denied rights promised by the American constitution. Many states were still segregated and racist attitudes were common.

African Americans fought in World War Two:

World War 2 started in 1939, but the USA didn't join thr fighting until December 1941. About a million African Americans fought in the American armed forces during the war. The army was segregated - African Americans served in separate military units to whites. African Americans saw action on all fronts and often distinguished themselves in the fighting, for example in the Battle of the Bulge in 1944 and at Iwo Jima in 1945. However, because of racism, no African Americans were awarded the medal of honour. Some concessions were made for the sake of military efficiency. African Americans were admitted to the marine corps for the first time. The first African-American fighter pilots flew combat missions. African American soldiers fought for freedom abroad - but returned home to a society which they were oppressed and discriminated against. After the war, in 1948, President Truman ended segregation in the armed forces.

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The civil rightms struggle: remaining recond class

In 1941, President Roosevelt had signed an executive order banning racial discrimination in defence industries. This caused resentment from some white workers. Race riots broke out in the industrial cities of Detriot in 1943 - during which 25 African Americans and 9 white Americans were killed.

In the south of the USA, segregation was enforced by law in most aspects of daily life - school, restaurants, theatres, workplaces, public transport. Most white people thought this was normal - reflecting and reinforcing African Americans' lower social status. Average wealth and living standards remained comparatively low for African Americans across the whole country.

The Klu Klux Klan (pg. 71) was a secret organisation that believed in white supremacy - and used violence to intimidate African Americans. It had declined in popularity by the 1940s, but was still active - and many people still shared its beliefs. Despite gaining freedom from slavery after the civil war, African Americans were still heavily oppressed in the south.

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The Civil Rights Struggle: The Constitution and No

With the help of the Supreme Court, The African Americans began to gain civil rights. But it wasa slow process.

Justice lay in Enforcing the Constitution:

The USA's Declaration of Independence and Constitution promise all citizens certain rights, including equal protection by the law. One strategy for gaining civil rights for African Americans was to appeal back to these iconic American documents.

Many groups focussed on non-violent protest. A number of non-violent protest groups fought for civil rights:

  • The NAACP - National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People, founded in 1909 - funded court cases challenging discrimination.
  • CORE - the Congress of Racial Equality, founded in 1942 - dedicated to non-violent protest.
  • The SCLC - Southern Christian Leadership Conference, founded in 1957 by Martin Luther King and Ralph Abernathy - used the church's strength for protests.
  • The SNCC - Student Non-violent Coordinating Comittee, formed in 1960.
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Civil Rights Struggle: Segregated Education

The Supreme Court ruled against segregated education:

Following campaigns by the NAACP, the US Supreme Court - which interprets the Constitution - ruled in the case Brown v Board of Education of Topeka (1954) that racial segregation in state schools was unconstitional.

Since the Constitution is the highest law of the land, the Federal (central) government was obliged to intervene when it was contradicted by local state law.

In 1957, President Eisenhower ordered 1000 paratroopers to the Central High School campus at Little Rock, Arkansas, to enforce the admission of nine African-American pupils in the face of local mob violence.

In 1962, James Meredith, an African American, had to have the protection of Federal troops as he registered as a student at the University of Mississippi.

In both the above cases the state governor, backed up by passionate public support from the white people for segregation, did all he could to defy the Federal authorities.

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The Montgomery Bus Boycott: a victory for Intergra

Martin Luther King, the first president of the SCLC, was committed to non-violent struggle.In 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus for a white man. She was arrested.

African-American ministers, led by 26-year-old Martin Luther King, organised a bus boycott in protest. African Americans supported the boycott by walking to work or sharing cars for a year. Most of the bus users were African American, which meant the bus company lost a lot of revenue. The Supreme Court finally ruled that Alabama's bus segregation laws were unconstitutional.

The success of this peaceful protest was inspirational to all who opposed segregation in the South.

The Civil Rights Acts of 1957 and 1960 were ineffective:

The 1957 act created a Civil Rights Commission to investigate the obstruction of voting rights. The 1960 act increased record-keeping and supervision of voting procedures. Neither act achieved much in practice, but a small beginning had been made by Congress.

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Bus Boycott: winning support

Martin Luther King and other activists used peaceful protests like marches, sit-ins and freedom rides - gaining publicity and sympathy for the cause. King was influenced by Gandhi, who used non-violent civil disobedience against the British in India. Many peaceful protests were undertaken by civil rights activists:

In 1960, four African-American students started a series of sit-ins at segregated lunch counters at the Woolworths in Greensboro, North Carolina. These protests spread and some succeeded in forcing the desegregation of facilities.

The Freedom Rides of 1961, organised by CORE and the SNCC, saw groups of African Americans and white Americans sitting together on bus trips in the South. Segregation on bus services had been ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. There was a violent reaction to the Freedom Rides by some White People in the South - such as the burning of a bus at Anniston, Alabama. 

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Bus Boycott: Birmingham victory

The Birmingham victory convinced the President:

President Kennedy at first gave limited support for African-American civil rights. he didn't want to alienate southern white voters.

King and the SCLC organised protests in Birmingham, Alabama, in April 1963. Protesters were met by police with fire hoses, truncheons and police dogs. Images of the harsh treatment of the protesters in the media gained support for their cause. King and hundreds of others were jailed. But in the end the Birmingham authorities gave way and agreed some concessions.

President Kennedy decided it was time to send a major Civil Rights Bill to Congress.

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Civil Rights Movement (1960s): Pressure on Congres

The late 1960s and early 1970s saw the rise of a more confrontational approach to civil rights. Next came pressure on Congress:

In August 1963, 250,000 demonstrators marched on Washington, where King spoke of his dream of a non-racist America.

But when Kennedy was assassinated in November 1963, his Civil Rights Bill had still not been passed. He was replaced by President Johnson.

Despite the fact that Kennedy was from liberal Massachusetts in the North, and Johnson was from segregated Texas in the South, it was Johnson who was more effective in achieving Civil Rights. 

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Civil Rights Movement (1960s): Important Acts Pass

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 empowered the Federal Government to enforce desegregation in all public places. This was a big victory for the civil rights movement.

Voting rights were still a problem. In theory, African Americans could vote, but in the South, all kinds of local rules were invented to stop them.

In the 'Freedom Summer' of 1964, thousands of student volunteers spent vacations in Mississippi in a drive for voter registration. Three of these students were murdered. 

In March 1965, the police in Selma, Alabama, used clubs and tear gas on civil right marchers and again the brutality was televised. In response, King - who had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 - led a march through Alabama from Selma to Montgomery.

In August 1965, Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act. Federal registrars would now enforce voting rights. This was another major success for the civil rights movement.

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Civil Rights Movement (1960s): Discrimination and

There was still discrimination and unrest:

  • Formal civil rights weren't enough to help African Americans trapped in poverty.
  • The Vietnam War began to absorb funds which might otherwise have been available for more spending on social programmes.
  • Some African Americans became impatient with King's leadership and non-violent methods.
  • There were many inner-city riots by African Americans in the mid 1960's. 34 people were killed in a 6-day riot in the Watts district of Los Angeles in August 1965. The 8-day Detroit riot of July 1967, left 43 dead.

Martin Luther King was assassinated in 1968:

  • In 1968 Martin Luther King went north to Chicago to organise marches against discrimination in housing - a problem not dealt with by the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
  • The government gave no support because President Johnson was angered at the 'ingratitude' of African American leaders who had criticised his Vietnam War policy.
  • Congress did pass an effective Civil Rights Act for housing after King's assassination in April 1968 had triggered more riots in over 100 cities.
  • King was shot on a hotel balcony.
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Civil Rights Movement (1960s): Malcolm X and the S

While Martin Luther King's method had achieved a great deal, many African Americans were losing patience with the slow pace of reform.

Malcolm X was a convert to the Nation of Islam:

  • Malcolm X rejected integration and non-violence. He called the peaceful match on Washington the 'farce on Washington.'
  • His preaching drew converts to the African American separatist religious organisation, the Nation of Islam. Malcolm X developed more 'inclusive' views and left the Nation of Islam in 1964.
  • He was killed by Nation of Islam members in February 1965.

The SNCC embraced separatism:

  • In1966 SNCC chairman Stokely Carmichael popularised the 'Black Power' slogan. 
  • Under his leadership, the SNCC expelled its white members.
  • In Newark, a Black Power conference passed resolutions calling for a separate African-American nation and militia.
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Civil Right Movement(1960):Black Panthers and Affi

The Black Panthers went on Patrol:

  • The Black Panther Party was founded in 1966 by Heuy P. Newton and Bobby Seale.
  • Its members wore uniforms and went on armed patrol, claiming to defend African Americans from police violence.
  • They also carried out programmes providing free breakfast for children, and education and healthcare for African Americans.

Affirmative Action gave African Americans oppurtunities:

  • President Johnson sought to combat the under-representation of African Americans in many areas of employment with a preferential hiring policy.
  • Under President Nixon, people criticised this policy as "reverse discrimination".
  • However, from 1969 Nixon encouraged the growth of African American-owned businesses with the Small Business Administration's set-aside programme. This guaranteed that a proportion of government contracts would be awarded to ethnic minority owned firms.
  • Two African American athletes raised their fists in a "Black Power" salute on the winners' podium. It was an iconic moment - but they were expelled from the US team.
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Women's Rights: Discrimination at work

The feminist movement gained momentum in the 1960s - and won better rights for women. The Women's Liberation Movement helped challenge traditional ideas of women's roles in society.Women began to challenge discrimination at work:

In 1960 women usually worked in low-paid jobs such as nursing, teaching, and clerical and domestic work. During the 1960s, women made up around 33-43% of the total workforce, but their average earnings remained around 60% that of men.

Eleanor Roosevelt pressured President Kennedy into creating a Presidental Commission on the Status of Women (1961) with herself as its head.

The 1963 Equal Pay Act made it illegal to pay women less than men for the same job. But the Equal Employment Oppunity Commission was understaffed and there was little to stop employers giving different job titles to men and women doing the same activities.

Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibited discrimination in employment on the basis of sex. But enforcement was slow to follow.

Avaliable from 1960, the contraceptive pill ('The Pill') made it easier for women to postpone having children while they started a career.

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Women's Rights: NOW

The campaign group NOW was formed in 1966:

Betty Friedan in The Feminine Mystique (1963) criticised the isolation of women in the household - saying many trapped in the homemaker role.

Friedan was one of the founders of the National Organisation for Women (NOW) - founded in 1966 to campaign for women's legal, education and professional equality.

NOW pressured Congressman into passing the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) in 1972 - but the Amendment failed to achieve ratification by the necessary three-quarters of states.

Opposition to the ratification of the ERA included women who wanted a return to "traditional" feminity. Conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly organised a group called "Stop ERA". 

However, the objectives of ERA were largely achieved by other means - especially a more vigorous enforcement of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Title XI of the Educational Amendments Act (1972) forced government-funded educational establishments to provide equal facilities and opportunities for both sexes.

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Women's Rights: Abortion

Feminists began to campaign against the objectification of women. Feminists protested at the 1968 Miss America beauty pageant - they crowned a sheep their own 'Miss America'.

The right to abortion was a controversial issue:

Feminists agrued that women had the right to choose abortion. The Supreme Court ruled in the case Roe v Wade (1973) that state laws banning abortion was unconstitutional.

But in response to pressure from religious groups, Congress passed the Hyde Amendment in 1976.

This stopped Medicaid (the medical assistance programme for the poor) from funding abortions.

The women's movement achieved a lot for women - including basic rights we take for granted nowadays, like equal pay and equal educational opportunities.

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Student Protest and Vietnam: Big political issues

The 1960s were a decade of student protest and youthful discontent.

There was some big political issues in the 1960s:

The civil rights movement was at a peak in the 1960s - organising major protests.

The assassination of President Kennedy in November 1963 shocked America. He was energetic, youthful president who had appealed to a lot of young people.

The American government was stuck in a long war in Vietnam.

It was fought to protect South Vietnam from communist North Vietnam - but opponents pointed out that it was only defending one undemocratic regime from another.

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Student Protest and Vietnam: Students organised pr

Students organised major protests. A new movement of student radicalism began to emerge in the early 1960s:

In 1959, young activists founded Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). In the early 1960s thousands of members worked for civil rights - which taught them protest tactics.In 1964, some civil rights workers were forbidden by the University of California from recruiting on campus. In response, students occupied the administration buildings.

The Vietnam War got worse from 1965. The threat of the draft (conscription to the army) sparked further protests. Students and others opposed to the war took part in a 50,000-strong march on the Pentagon during Stop the Draft Week in October 1967. The SDS became more confrontational. The student takeover of Columbia University for 8 days in April 1968 resulted in around 700 arrests.

The Democratic Party convention in Chicago in August 1968 became notorious for clashes between thousands of police and anti-war demonstrators at Kent State University in Ohio, killing four students. These disturbances were part of worldwide unrest in the late 1960s. The protesters' disillusionment with the Democrats meant that many didn't vote for the Democratic Party in the 1968 election. This helped Republican Richard Nixon to win.

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Student Protest and Vietnam

The 'Swinging Sixites' challenged traditional values:

Many young people experimented with new lifestyles involving rock music, psychedelic drugs, sexual freedom and religious experimentation.

Events including the San Francisco "Summer of Love" (1967) and the Woodstock Music Festival (1969)

Protest singers, such as Bob Dylan, wrote songs about political issues like the Vietnam War and the civil rights movement.

By 1967, there was hippy areas in most American cities - populated by "drop-outs" from mainstream life. Not all young people took part though - some still had traditional values.

The 1960s were a time of fervent student protest and activism. There was big cultural changes too - the 'swinging sixties' were a break with what had gone before...

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Revision Summary: 1-4

What was the Marshall Plan?

President Truman gave economic aid to Western European countries - hoping that this would help protect them from communist influence. This was called the Marshall Plan.

What was the name of the American general in charge of UN forces in the Korean War?

US General MacArthur was the general in charge of the UN forces.

What was the 'Red Scare' in the 1950s?

The Red Scare was the fear of growing communism in the USA, people were panicked at the threat and suspicion of communism.

Who were the Hollywood Ten?

The Hollywood Ten were a group of writers and directors blacklisted and jailed, as they were suspected to be communists, or encouraging the grown of communism with the USA.

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Revision Summary: 5-8

Who was the director of the FBI during the Red Scare?

J Edgar Hoover

Why did Senator McCarthy lose popularity?

He made many accusations, with little evidence. He also turned on the army, accusing them of covering up communist infiltration. One of the most noted events for his loss of popularity was the televised Army-McCarthy hearings in 1954, in which his bullying of witness turned public opinion against him.

What was segregation?

Segregation was the separation of African Americans and whites, treating African Americans as second class citizens, forcing them to be separate from the Whites in all aspects of daily life - schools, restaurants, theatres, workplaces, public transport and public toilets.

What does NAACP stand for?

National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People.

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Revision Summary: 9-13

What was the ruling in the case Brown v Board of Education of Topeka (1954)?

It ruled that segregation in state schools was unconstitutional.

What act of resistance did Rosa Parks make to segregation in 1955?

She refused to give up her seat for a white man on a in Montgomery, Alabama, and was then arrested.

What major civil rights march happened in 1963?

The Birmingham march of Martin Luther King and the SCLC. It pushed President Kennedy to send a major Civil Rights Bill to congress.

Who was murdered during the Freedom Summer?

Three students who volunteered to spend vacations in Mississippi in a drive for voter registration.

When was Martin Luther King assassinated?

In 1968, King was shot on a hotel balcony.

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Revision Summary: 14 - 17

How did Malcolm X's approach differ from Martin Luther King's?

He wanted separation from Whites, not integration with him. He rejected non-violence and his preaching drew converts to the African-American separatist religious organisation, the Nation of Islam.

Why was President Johnson's preferential hiring policy criticised?

The policy did not stop employers giving different job titles to men and women doing the same activities.

What act made it illegal to pay women less than man for the same job?

The 1963 Equal Pay Act.

What was the name of Betty Friedan's famous 1963 book?

The Feminine Mystique.

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Revision Summary: 18 - 21

What was the ruling about abortion in the case Roe v Wade (1973)?

It ruled that state laws banning abortion were unconstitutional. But in response to pressure from religious groups, Congress passes the Hyde Amendment in 1976. This stopped Medicaid from funding abortions.

Which President was assassinated in 1963?

President Kennedy was assassinated in November 1963 in Dallas, Texas.

What was the SDS?

Student for a Democratic Society.

Where were four students killed in May 1970?

At Kent State University in Ohio, National Guardsmen opened fire on student anti-war demonstrators.

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Ali Saleh


thanks babes very helpful






thank u so much its really helpful

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