History - USA, 1945-75: Land of Freedom?

Notes about the USA 1945-75: Land of Freedom? section of the OCR History GCSE course.

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 USA, 1945-75: Land of Freedom?

Key Question 1

Why was there a 'red scare' in the USA?

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How did the international situation make Americans

In the late 1940s, Soviet Union took control of Eastern Europe

  • 'Iron curtain' descends between East and West. 
  • American fears that communism might take over the world

In 1948, the Soviet Union blockaded Berlin.

  • Soviet union blocked all routes into Berlin in an attempt to push allied troops out of West Berlin.
  • This was after UK, US and France had combined their zones and put plans in place for economic recovery in West Berlin. 
  • The allies airlifted in supplies for almost a year before Stalin stopped the blockade.

1949, USSR detonated its first atomic bomb. Both superpowers now had nuclear capabilities.

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How did the international situation make Americans

1949, Communist victory in China (at that time, almost a quarter of the world's population). 

June 1950, the Korean war began .

  • The Soviet-backed North Korea attacked non-Communist South Korea. 
  • President Truman ordered US troops, under General MacArthur, into North Korea to drive the North Koreans back, who received huge support from China and the USSR.  
  • This was a 'War by proxy' - the USA and Soviet Union were at war with each other, though through other states. 
  • American-backed armies were eventually forced to retreat.

These international events made the spread of communism a possible and even plausible reality, something very frightening to Americans in the USA. 

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What was McCarthyism?

McCarthyism refers to the widespread accusation of communist activity in America by Republican Senator Joe McCarthy during the early 1950s.

In 1950, McCarthy claimed he had a list of 250 members of the Communist Party - 'I have here in my hand a list...'

Although the senator did not provide any evidence for his claims, many people (members of the public and his fellow Republicans) were ready to believe him.

In all, 2375 men and women were summoned to appear before the Senate's House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC).

  • In 1947, it focused on investigating communists in the film industry. Those who refused to answer questions put to them were blacklisted and jailed. They became known as the Hollywood Ten. Blacklisting also took place in schools, universities and broadcasting. 

McCarthy's legacy was long lasting - in 1954, the Communist Control Act was introduced, banning the communist party.

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Why did people support McCarthyism?

McCarthyism exploited the fear that American people had of communism at the time, due to:
    1. The international situation (see earlier)
    2. The situation in the USA (see below)

In 1947, the Federal Employee Loyalty Program (FELP) was set up to investigate federal government workers. The program investigated even those who had no hand in shaping American policy etc. 

The FBI also investigated communists in America. Its director, J Edgar Hoover, was obsessed with subversives. 

After several trials, there were strong fears of Soviet spies in the USA:

  • In 1948, the former US State department official Alger Hiss, was accused of handing over 200 secret documents and of being a communist spy. She denied both charges and so was convicted to 5 years for perjury. 
  • In 1950, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were found to have sold nuclear secrets to the Soviet Union. They were executed in 1953.
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Why did McCarthyism decline?

Public opinion soon turned against McCarthy after televised hearings of his Senate Investigating Committee showed him to be a bully and a liar. 

The opposition of Edward R. Murrow, a famed CBS newscaster and analyst, was also instrumental in McCarthy's decline.

  • In March 1954, Murrow's show See it Now aired an episode on McCarthyism, attacking the methods of McCarthy. 
  • Titled 'A report on Senator Joseph R. McCarthy' it used footage of McCarthy speeches to portray him as dishonest, reckless and abusive toward witnesses and prominent Americans

Arguably the 'last straw' was when he McCarthy claimed that the army had been infiltrated by communists and that the president at the time, Eisenhower, knew about it but had done nothing. McCarthy's behavior was condemned by the Senate in 1954 and he was forced out of public life. 

Later hearing turned public opinion further against McCarthy. For example, in the Yates vs United States case of 1957, the convictions of 14 communists were reversed. 

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 USA, 1945-75: Land of Freedom?

Key Question 2

How successful was the struggle for civil rights in the 1950s?

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What was the state of civil rights in America in c

In the late 1940s and early 1950s, African Americans were still denied many of the rights promised by the American constitution. 

Many states were segregated; this segregation was strongest in the southern states, where Jim Crow laws were still in place, enforcing segregation.

  • The segregation covered most aspects of life - schools, restaurants, theatres, workplaces, public transport and public toilets. Most white people thought this normal and unremarkable

The segregation in Northern states was more informal, reflecting and reinforcing African Americans' lower social status, 

Average wealth and living standards remained comparatively low for African Americans across the whole country. 

The Ku Klux Klan, while less prominent than it had been, remained active, and many people shared its extreme views. 

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Did the Second World War have an impact on the pos

The second world war provided African Americans a good opportunity to press their civil rights case. 

During WW1, black leaders had agreed to halt their civil rights campaign. They did not repeat this mistake during WW2: (see below)

In 1941, A. Philip Randolph planned a 100000 strong protest in Washington against the exclusion of blacks from the defence industry.

  • Roosevelt agreed to ban discrimination in the workplace, and set up a Fair Employment Practice Committee (FELP) to check on this.
  • The FEPC soon found mass discrimination; only 10 out of 33000 Douglas Aircraft company workers were black. 

In 1942, the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) was set up. 

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Did the Second World War have an impact on the pos

USA joined the war in 1941, at which time the army refused to train black officers, the air force wouldn't use black pilots, and blacks were only allowed in kitchens in the navy

By 1945, about a million black americans had served, though the army was still segregated.

  • For the first time there were black Marine Corps and fighter pilots.  
  • African Americans often distinguished themselves in combat

During the war, membership of the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) rose from 50000 to 450000. 

In 1948, Truman ended segregation in the armed forces - black and white soldiers fought alongside for the first time during the Korean war. 

While progress had clearly been made, discrimination against African Americans still remained. 

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Why was the struggle over desegregated education i

Brown vs Board of Education of Topeka:

  • In 1954, Oliver Brown of Kansas sued the city school board for not allowing his black eight year old daughter to go to a segregated school. 
  • The case was brought to the court by the NAACP. 

The Supreme Court ruled that racial segregation in state schools was unconstitutional, overturning the 1896 Plessy vs Fergusson decision that said that 'separate was equal'.

  • It argued that the purpose of segregating schools was to create 'a sense of inferiority' in Blacks; a sense that they were not fit to go to a white school. 
  • In 1955, it ordered all states to integrate their schools.

The Brown decision represented a huge victory for black Americans. It not only gave blacks the right to an equal education, but was the first step to the government moving against other areas of racial equality and the Jim Crow laws. 

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Why was the struggle over desegregated education i

Little Rock, 1957

In 1957, nine black pupils were refused entry to an all white high school at Little Rock by the state governor (who used the National Guard to prevent their entry)

  • The Federal government ordered the state governor to allow them to enroll, but he refused. 
    • Clashes between federal government and state governors were frequent. In both Little Rock and Brown vs... the state governors did all they could to defy the federal authorities. 
  • Eisenhower sent 10000 national guardsmen and 1000 paratroopers to enforce the students admission and escort them around the school.

Little Rock demonstrated that the federal government was not willing to sit back and watch segregation continue any longer.

It was another victory for the African American civil rights movement. However, many Southern states did not change as result of either the Supreme Court ruling or Eisenhower's actions, declaring 'segregation now and segregation forever' 

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What was the importance of the Montgomery Bus Boyc

The Montgomery Bus Boycott

In 1955, Montgomery, Alabama, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat for a white man on a public bus. She was arrested.

In protest, black ministers, led by Martin Luther King (26 at the time), organized a bus boycott.

  • For a year, black citizens in the area (75% of the bus company's business) walked or shared cars.
  • The protest received extensive media coverage, and was seen around the world. It served to highlight the extent of segregation in the US.  

The Supreme Court finally ruled that unsegregated buses were unconstitutional as well. 

  • This was a momentous victory. It proved that peaceful protest could have an effect. It was inspirational to all those who opposed segregation in the South.
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What was the importance of the Montgomery Bus Boyc

Following this success, it came as no surprise when Eisenhower introduced the first Civil Rights Act since 1875, in 1957. 

  • The Act created a Civil Rights Commission to investigate obstruction of voting rights, and prosecute those who denied others the right to vote. 

In 1960, a second Civil Rights Act was introduced.

  • This increased record-keeping and supervision of voting procedures

While neither act achieved much in practice, it was a small beginning for a Congress. Eventually these two acts would lead to the much more influential Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1965. 

Furthermore, it showed, like Little Rock did, that the American government was no longer willing to allow Southern States to do as they pleased. 

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 USA, 1945-75: Land of Freedom?

Key Question 3 

Who improved civil rights the most in the 1960s and 1970s?

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How were Martin Luther King's ideas and methods di

Martin Luther King was a Christian and pacifist who opposed the use of violence to achieve equality for African Americans. Through his peaceful methods, he gained much sympathy and support for the civil rights movement

He encouraged, supported and most importantly organized many peaceful protests, such as marches, sit-ins and freedom rides (see below)

  • In 1960, 4 black Americans started a series of sit-ins at segregated lunch counters in the Woolworths of Greensboro, North Carolina. 
    • These protests spreaded and some succeeded in forcing the desegregation of the facilities.
  • In 1961, the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) organized a series of Freedom Rides. 
    • These saw groups of black and white Americans sitting together on buses
    • In the South, there was a violent reaction to these Freedom Rides
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How were Martin Luther King's ideas and methods di

In 1963, Martin Luther King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) organized the Birmingham Protests. 

  • These were a series of sit ins and marches held in Birmingham, Alabama (where Jim Crow laws still operated)
  • There was widespread media coverage of the event, and the way the police dealt with protestors was shocking. 
    • Protestors were met with fire hoses, truncheons and dogs. 
    • The feared police chief Bill Connor was shown ordering police dogs on people if they did not disperse.
  • King and 100s of other were jailed, but the Birmingham authorities agreed some concessions

The protests prompted Kennedy to suggest a Civil Rights Bill, who up to that point had given limited support to African American civil rights campaigners.

An embarrassed Kennedy demanded segregation be ended in Birmingham. 

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How were Martin Luther King's ideas and methods di

On 28th August of 1963, the march on Washington was organized in an attempt to persuade Congress to support the Civil Rights Bill.

  • The march was 250000 strong, and ended at the Lincoln Memorial, where King gave his famous 'I have a dream...' speech. 

However, Kennedy was assassinated in November 1963, before the bill was passed. 

While Kennedy was from the traditionally liberal Massachusetts in the North, and his successor, Lindon B. Johnson, from segregated Texas in the South, Johnson was arguably more effective in achieving civil rights for African Americans.

  •  After Kennedy's assassination, Johnson ensured the Civil Rights Bill was passed (see below) 
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How were Martin Luther King's ideas and methods di

Throughout 1964, the Freedom Summer Campaign, another peaceful protest, took place in Mississippi. 

  • Mississippi was 45% black, but remained one of the most segregated states in the US in terms of voting.
    • You were required to pass a literary test to vote. 

In the summer of 1964, thousands of students went to Mississippi in a drive for voting equality and voter registration.

On 21st June, three students were murdered.

  • They went to investigate reports that a church chosen as a freedom school had been firebombed by the Ku Klux Klan.
  • They were arrested by the deputy sheriff, Cecil Price, and released in the middle of the night in a deserted location where the KKK were waiting. 
  • There, they were murdered. Their bodies weren't found until the 4th August.
  • Later, in 1967, members of the KKK were charged, but none were found guilty. 
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How were Martin Luther King's ideas and methods di

In March 1965, the police in Selma, Alabama, used clubs and tear gas on protestors. 

  • Again, the brutality was televised. 
  • In response, King (who had received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964) led a march from Selma to Montgomery. 

In 1966, Martin Luther King went to Chicago to protest against discrimination in housing. 

  • He received no support from the government as President Johnson had been angered by the 'ingratitude' of black leaders who criticised his Vietnam policy. 

In April 1968, King was assassinated.

  • His death triggered riots in over 100 cities.
  • Ironically, this violence led to Congress passing a Civil Rights Act for housing later that year. 
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How were Martin Luther King's ideas and methods di

Malcolm X, in contrast to Martin Luther King, rejected integration and non-violence in protest - he called the peaceful protest march on Washington the 'farce on Washington'.

  • Born Malcolm Little, Malcolm X changed his surname to an 'X' as 'Little' was the name that white slave owners had given his family. He chose X as he didn't know his real African name. 
  • During his childhood, his father was brutally murdered by an unknown white supremacist group.
  • He dropped out of school after 8th grade, when his English teacher told him that his aspirations of becoming a lawyer were 'no realistic goal for ******'
  • While in prison, Malcolm X converted to Islam.
  • Later, Malcolm X became undoubtedly the most famous member, and then leader, of black power group, The Nation of Islam 


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How were Martin Luther King's ideas and methods di

The Nation of Islam, of which Malcolm X was a prominent figure, was the most prominent Black Power group.

  • Its members, and some other Black muslims, believed that black Americans should be given a separate black state in the USA.
  • They rejected the civil rights movement, as they didn't want any part of white society, but didn't reject the use of violence.
  • Malcolm X's ideas were clearly reflected in the policies of the Black Panthers, established later in the movement.

In 1964, Malcolm X began to change his mind about the Civil Rights Movement. 

  • He accepted that white people could play a useful role.
  • The Nation of Islam subsequently split, and Malcolm X led a breakaway group. 

In February 1965, Malcolm X was assassinated by three members of the Nation of Islam, who rejected his new views. 

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Who did more for civil rights in America, Martin L

As a consequence of the non violent methods of protest that Martin Luther King advocated so strongly, two important Civil Rights Acts were passed during the 1960s. 

One the 2nd July 1964, the first of these - The Civil Rights Act - was passed. 

  • The act empowered federal government to enforce desegregation in all public places. This was a big victory for the civil rights movement. 

In August 1965, the second act - The Voting Rights Act - was signed by Johnson.

  • Federal registrars would now enforce voting rights . This was another major success for the movement. 

However, progress was slow from these acts, and they were not enough to help African Americans trapped in poverty. Many became frustrated by King's leadership and non-violent protest; in the real world, it didn't seem to be making much of a difference. 

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Who did more for civil rights in America, Martin L

As a result, between 1964 and 1968 there were many major race riots. 

  • 34 people were killed in a six day riot in the Watts district of Los Angeles
  • 43 died during the eight day Detroit riot of July 1967

The protestors, encouraged, undoubtedly, by the violence of figures of the Black Power movement, seemed to undermine the work of MLK and the SCLC.

Malcolm X's contribution to the movement was arguably even less. His original, violent methods of protest were unsustainable in the long term, and he was assassinated in 1965, before he could start to put into practice his reformed views of working with white Americans, rather than against them.  


  • Malcolm X promoted black power, and made black Americans feel prouder of their race, which encouraged them to protest. 
  • His speeches of violence may have been the actual reason for government reform; MLK's protests were just the pretext.
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Who was more important in improving civil rights,

President Kennedy had a limited impact on the civil rights movement, and formal progress (laws, legislation etc.) made during his single term was minimal. 

  • While he did argue for a new civil rights act, he wasn't particularly good at convincing Congress to back him. Furthermore, he was more focused on Vietnam, than on problems at home. 
  • However, he did show support for the movement, especially the Freedom Rides and James Meredith, the first black student at the University of Mississippi. 
  • With his brother, he also published Martin Luther King's work. 

Overall, while his achievements didn't amount to much, he did represent a feeling of hope and optimism, and he appointed the first black naval commander, ambassador and federal judge. 

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Who was more important in improving civil rights,

President Johnson, on the other hand, had a more lasting effect. 

  • After only 8 months he managed to push through the Civil Rights Act (1964) as federal law. 
  • In 1965, Congress then passed the Voting Rights Act, a landmark in civil rights legislation.
  • Under Johnson, affirmative action gave African Americans better opportunities
    • He introduced a preferential hiring policy in some areas of employment in order to combat their under representation

There were drawback to Johnson's term in office. 

  • Notably, the Vietnam war meant that Johnson had to cut back greatly on his plans for social reforms (by 1968, it was costing more than $66 million every day)
  • However, this was something that was out of his control - he had inherited this war from his predecessors and could not suddenly cut its funding. 
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Did the Black Power Groups harm the struggle for c

The Black Power movement came as a reaction to the supposedly slow progress of Martin Luther King's peaceful civil rights campaign, and was based around a number of loosely defined principles:

  • The rejection of non-violence
  • Martin Luther King being regarded as the 'tool of the white man'
  • Black Supremacy
  • Demands for more effective and fair implementations of the law
  • Radical social change, especially in housing and education
  • The rejection of integration

During the early 1960s, Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam (see earlier) were the best known exponents of the Black Power movement, but in the excitement of the late 1960s, other militant groups emerged:

  • SNCC 
    • In 1966, the SNCC expelled all its whites members, and its leader, Stokely Carmichael, coined the term 'Black Power'
  • CORE
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Did the Black Power Groups harm the struggle for c

It was the Black Panthers, however, or the BPP (Black Panther Party) who had the most violent reputation of all the Black Power groups. 

Founded and led by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale, the group wanted an end to white capitalist control in general and police brutality in particular; their positive demands were economic in emphasis. 

They developed a ten point program:
1. Freedom - power to determine the destiny of the black community; 2. Full employment for all; 3. An end to 'robbery' of black people; 4. Housing - fit for the shelter of human beings; 5. Education; 6. Black exemption from the military; 7. An end to acts of brutality by the police; 8. Freedom for blacks in jail;  9. Fair juries; 10. Land entitlement, as well as bread, clothing, housing, education and peace

The members wore striking black uniforms and went on patrol, claiming to be protecting black citizens from 'police terrorism'.

They also provided free breakfasts for children, as well as education and healthcare for African Americans. 

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Did the Black Power Groups harm the struggle for c

Black Power groups were undoubtedly influential in the struggle for Civil Rights in both positive and negative ways:

  • Black Power groups influenced Martin Luther King, who became increasingly concerned with stressing that blacks had plenty to be proud of, and with tackling social and economic issues. 
  • It gave the black community a greater sense of pride in their race/culture. 
  • It inspired other minority groups to follow the black example (eg Native Americans, Chicanos, who developed 'Red Power' and 'Brown Power')


  • Black power brought division to the movement
  • By accepting violence, campaigners undermined King's policy of maintaing the moral high ground, and lost much of the white sympathy he had gained. 
  • It was never entirely clear what the political aims of the Black Power movement were. 
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How far did civil rights progress under Nixon?

President Nixon continued to develop the laws that Johnson had developed, ensuring there were enough funds to make basic improvements.

  • Indeed, by 1975, 150 cities had black mayors and other conditions steadily improved for black Americans.
  • Under Nixon, Johnson's preferential hiring policy was criticized as 'reverse discrimination'

Nixon also played a major role in the desegregation of schools in the South. In 1969, nearly 70% of black children in the South attended an inferior all black school, but by 1974 this figure had fallen to merely 8%.

  • This may have been due in part to 'busing' of children to make sure schools were ethnically mixed.

From 1969, Nixon encouraged the growth of African American businesses with the Small Business Administration's set aside programme. This guaranteed a proportion of government contracts would be awarded to ethnic minority owned firms.  

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 USA, 1945-75: Land of Freedom?

Key Question 4

How far did other groups achieve civil rights in America?

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Why did immigration of Hispanic Americans increase


Following the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848, Mexico surrendered half of its territory to the USA.

  • This meant some 80000 Mexicans now lived in the land transferred to the USA (Mexico and California)

By 1900, almost 500000 people of Mexican ancestry lived in the US.

Up to 1930, more and more Mexicans moved to the US, attracted by the prospect of work.

  • People travelled as far north as Chicago for work in industries such as railways, steel mills and meat packing.
  • It is estimated around 30000 Mexicans emigrated between 1900 and 1910, and around 500000 between 1920-1929. 
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Why did immigration of Hispanic Americans increase

The 1930s depression led to a sharp fall in immigration from Mexico.

Furthermore, many Mexicans and Mexican Americans were forced to leave America as part of the Repatriation Program, which was in effect between 1927 and 1937.

  • As a result of the program, almost 2 million Mexicans or Mexican Americans were deported. 

    • Many of these were legal US citizens and had been born in the USA.

The Bracero Program allowed Mexicans to work temporarily in the US between 1942 and 1964.

  • The program was set up because of the wartime shortage of labourers. 

Many other immigrants came illegally - the 2000 mile border between Mexico and the USA was very difficult to police. 

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Why did immigration of Hispanic Americans increase

Immigration to America after WW2

After the war, a significant number of citizens deported by the Repatriation program returned, and the number of new migrants also increased significantly. 

  • Economic incentives attracted many people struggling to make money in Mexico.
  • Family ties were another incentive for people to return.

Many Mexican Americans settled near the border and were confident of change, working with the large Chicano Community. 

The 1965 Immigration Act loosened the restrictions on immigration, abolishing the quotas that had been in place since 1924. 

  • It set preference categories based less on country of origin and more on kinship relations and occupations
  • This immediately resulted in a surge of Mexican and Asian immigrants.
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What did the Hispanic Americans achieve in their c

WW2 sparked an era of progress for Hispanic Americans, many of whom had been discriminated against in America. 

Hundreds of thousands of Hispanic Americans served in the US armed forces during the war. 

  • There was some racism towards them - in 1943, Los Angeles erupted in the Zoot Suit riots, during which American sailors spent 10 days seeking out and beating up Latino teenagers. 

After the war, the League of United American Citizens and the American GI Forum mounted legal challenges to overturn school segregation in California and the exclusion of Mexican Americans from Texas juries. 

  • In 1954, the Supreme Court ruled in the case Hernandez vs Texas that the 14th Amendment outlawing racial discrimination applied not just to African Americans but to all races. 
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What did the Hispanic Americans achieve in their c

The Mexican American Legal Defence and Education Fund (MALDEF) was founded in 1968, and became the most prominent Mexican-American civil rights organization. 

Cesar Chavez, the grandson of Mexican immigrants, formed the United Farm Workers union in 1962. From 1965, he organized a ten-year campaign to improve the pay and working conditions of migrant workers.

  • The campaign included a nationwide grape boycott in 1967.

In 1975, the Agricultural Labor Relations Act protected the right of farm workers to unionise. 

Not only did the campaign bring about new legislation, however, but it raised awareness of the wider struggle for Hispanic-American rights in the US.

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What were the issues faced by Native Americans in

Native Americans were not only discriminated against, but their land and independence was under threat from the USA.

The Indian Reorganisation Act of 1934 halted previous attempts to break up tribes.

After WW2, Congress retreated to the policy of complete assimilation. 

  • Under this 'termination' policy, started in the early 1950s, the governments withdrew benefits from many tribes. Furthermore, many reservations (set aside for Native Americans) were absorbed by states, becoming new counties. 
  • Terminated tribes had to pay state taxes and obey state regulations. 
  • Many had to sell land or mineral rights, leaving them poorer than before. 

In the 1960s, the Supreme Court began issuing decisions supporting the Native American sovereignty and recognising the tribes' legal status as higher than that of the states.

  • This limited the power of the states over the reservations.
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What were the issues faced by Native Americans in

The American Indian Movement (AIM) was founded in 1968 in response to police harassment in Minneapolis. It became a national organisation concerned also with issues such as living standards and treaty rights. 

  • In 1972, AIM members joined with seven other organisations in the Trail of Broken Treaties (a march on Washington). The protestors vandalised the headquarters of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), the federal agency which manages the reservation system.

Civil disobedience 'fish-ins' brought success in the 1974 Boldt decision in favour of Native American fishing and hunting rights. 

The 1978 Indian Religious Freedom Act guaranteed protection for forms of religious worship and access to sacred sites. 

By 1980, Native Americans had succeeded in forcing the government to return some important tribal lands and to provide compensation for confiscated lands.

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What were the issues faced by Native Americans in

As part of the struggle for civil rights, there was a conflict at Wounded Knee in 1973. 

A faction at the Oglala Sioux reservation, opposed to corruption in the way that the reservation was managed, invited AIM to join a protest. 

The protestors seized the village of Wounded Knee at gunpoint. Soon they were surrounded by a military cordon; the siege lasted 71 days. Shots were exchanges and two people were killed. 

The symbolism of the site - scene of an 1890 massacre of Sioux by the Army - ensured national media attention.

  • This in itself was a victory for the protestors - the extensive media coverage gained them much sympathy across the USA.

Eventually, after a negotiated settlement of the local issues, the siege ended in a triumph for AIM. 

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What methods did American women use to achieve equ

Women's right improved dramatically during the 1960s as a result of the growing feminist movement:

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 per cent of the workforce, but their average earnings remained around 60 per cent those of men. 

'The Pill' became available from 1960, which made it easier for women to postpone having children while they pursued a career. 

  • By 1965, there was no legislation to stop married couples using contraceptives. 

In 1961, Eleanor Roosevelt pressured President Kennedy into creating a Presidential Commission on the Status of Women, with her at its head. 

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What methods did American women use to achieve equ

The 1963 Equal Pay Act made it illegal to pay women less than men for doing the same job. However, 

  • the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was understaffed. 
  • 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 sex discrimination in employment, but enforcement was slow to follow. 

Abortion was a controversial issue, and a landmark ruling in the Roe vs Wade case (1973) deemed that state laws banning abortions were unconstitutional. For many women, this was a massive victory.

  • Congress later passed the Hyde Amendment in 1976, after pressure from religious groups. This stopped Medicaid (the medical assistance programme for the poor) from funding abortions. 
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What methods did American women use to achieve equ

The National Organisation for Women (NOW) was formed (by Betty Friedan and others) in 1966 to campaign for women's legal, educational and professional equality. 

 NOW pressured Congressmen 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' femininity. Conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly organised a group called 'Stop ERA'.

The objectives of the ERA were largely achieved through other means, notably a more vigorous enforcement of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

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

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Louis - you are truly the best man - saved my life - exam tomorro!


:'D i love you man! thanks soo much for this! its really helpful! much more simpler that reading 10000 worded articles on the web


really gd  thx


this is brilliant! exactly to spec! exam today :/

Louis Sharrock

Glad I could help :)


Fair play matey, this is really good


Rly good. Very helpful. However I did not agree with the views about which President made the most difference to civil rights. But I guess we all have our different opinions. Thanks mate

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