During World War II, following Pearl Harbor, many journalists and government authorities feared Japanese-Americans. They believed that people of Japanese descent had a plan to invade the west coast, specifically California. As journalists continued to spread rumors of the invasion to the public, the public became so fearful that the FBI investigators began looking into the situation. The FBI did not find any evidence of suspicious activity, but President Roosevelt took the public’s side and ordered a relocationimmemorial of all Japanese-Americans in 1942.
In this relocation, Japanese-Americans were interred in isolated camps without charge or trial. A Japanese-American, Fred Korematsu, altered his face and took on a new identity to avoid being imprisoned. Fred was discovered and although the Supreme Court ruled the confinement to be illegal, no evacuation was enforced. An evacuation was ordered in January of 1947 thanks to the Western Defense Command. This event is considered to be one of the most unjust events in history and a violation of American Civil Rights.
Japan had attempted to resolve many issues, including economic and demographic issues, by taking over China’s import market. Japan moved south and attempted to capture oil fields in the Dutch East Indies and then China. However, the Philippines, a US territory, was on their route of attack and Japan had plans to declare war on the US. The US tried to negotiate with Japan but neither side was meeting in the middle. The US expected an attack, but they expected it to happen in Europe.
Pearl Harbor, a naval base in Hawaii, was the last place the US expected to be targeted and it was the least defended. The Japanese saw it as an easy target and attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7th. 181 planes bombed, 3 torpedoes struck battleship Oklahoma which contained 400 crew members, and another bomb exploded the battleship USS Arizona with more than 1,000 men inside. 5 days following the event, Germany and Japan declared war on the United States. The attack on Pearl Harbor pushed the United States into World War II in December of 1941.
As the USSR was increasing in power and spreading communism, the US felt they had to step in and prevent communism from spreading. Winston Churchill coined the term the “Iron Curtain”, which referred to eight communist states that were divided from the rest of Europe by a barrier. The states were said to be behind the Iron Curtain. The Truman Doctrine was President Harry S. Truman’s attempt to support other countries that were struggling to resist and oppose communism. The Doctrine was a speech made by Truman to Congress in 1947, where Congress voted to send help to Greece and Turkey, which were the Soviet’s targets then. The Doctrine specifically stated that the US must “support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or outside pressures”. An important part of the Truman Doctrine was “Containment”, which was to be used during the Cold War and stop the spread of communism. The Truman Doctrine led to the Marshall Plan.
The Marshall Plan, also known as the European Recovery Plan, was proposed by President Truman’s Secretary of State, General George C. Marshall. The goal was to address important issues such as hunger and poverty as well as encourage a world where free institutions can exist. The Soviets rejected the plan, but 16 other nations supported it. $13 billion was financed by the US and assisted Western Europe’s reconstruction following World War II. Reconstruction included agricultural output, industrial output, and an increase in exports. In addition to the economic aid, the Marshpoverty-ridden all Plan was also set up to help stop the spreading of communism in Europe. The Plan was also key in the formation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, an alliance between North American and European countries.
John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts was the youngest person to be elected president in the 1960s. Kennedy was a Democratic nominee who shared the same agenda and optimism as liberals. His campaign revolved around the idea of a New Frontier, where opportunities exist that are to be discovered. Kennedy also began a program for the exploration of space. The Soviet Union sent an astronaut to the moon for the first time in 1961, however, when NASA attempted to do the same one month later, they were only able to complete a sub-orbital flight. Americans believed Russia was becoming more advanced and they became fearful. One year later, John Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth and Kennedy set out to land a man on the moon by the end of the decade. Kennedy also signed Acts to help poverty-ridden areas. During Kennedy’s presidency, he confronted many challenges with Grassroots activism. Kennedy tried to support racial equality, but every small act was received poorly by many white citizens. In August 1963, Martin Luther King gave his “I Have a Dream” speech, and, over 200,000 blacks gathered in front of the Lincoln Memorial or Washington DC. Kennedy’s biggest foreign policy failure was the Bay of Pigs Invasion in 1961 and his biggest success was the Cuban Missile Crisis, which resulted in a better relationship between America and the Soviet Union. Kennedy encountered challenges in Vietnam as well. Ngo Dinh Diem’s government was being attacked by communist Viet Cong guerillas and Kennedy stepped in to provide aid. On November 22, 1963, Kennedy was assassinated in Houston by a former Marine, Lee Harvey Oswald who spent time in the Soviet Union.
The New Left was a radical movement followed by the youth that neither agreed with conservatism nor liberalism beliefs. The group was made up of students that felt their freedoms were being taken away through university regulations. During the 1960s, Tom Hayden was a key figure who flew to Vietnam to protest the war. Hayden had become politically active and set out to address the University issues. Most students felt like they were given unfair rules when it came to eating, drinking alcohol, cars, and socializing. Women felt particularly affected because they were being given more strict rules, including curfews. The Key organization was known as Students for a Democratic Society. At the University of California at Berkeley in 1964, Mario Savio addressed a crowd of protesting students by standing on top of a police car with two policemen inside.
This group was created in the 1960s by the New Left. Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) was created by the youth to improve the inadequateness of society. In 1962, during SDS’s national convention, the group approved “Agenda for a New Generation”, which was an answer to the Port Huron statement that argued people were being denied choices and power. The Agenda to solve the problem was introduced as “participatory democracy”. In the late 1965s, SDS went from 2,500 members to 10,000 members because the message was getting across. In 1969, SDS held its final convention as the movement fell apart.
Mexican Americans faced racism and discrimination, being labeled as lazy and earning less than Anglos. Many of them faced Poverty because they were separated from Anglos and their neighborhoods and schools were underfunded. Activism for Mexican Americans appeared more so in the late 1960s following Cesar Chavez’s movement, where he helped to unite farmworkers. The Chicano Movement began in California in 1969 and was known as the Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Astlan (MEChA). This movement was focused on creating social change for Chicanos. During this time, Anglo businesses were being boycotted in Texas and La Raza Unida (The United Race) responded by winning control of the local school board in 1970. Reporter Ruben Salazar defined the “Chicano” to be “a Mexican American with a no-Anglo image of himself”. Chicanos wanted bilingual education, Chicano studies, and equal opportunity. Chicano activists coined the term “Brown Power” during their fight for empowerment. Unfortunately for Chicanos, during this time, white Americans were focusing more on the Africa American activism. By 1980, there were about 7 million Americans that claimed Mexican heritage. Most Mexican Americans lived in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Colorado.
In the 1960s, Women reacted to the roles placed on them after World War II. Women were attending college and working but were still expected to drop their careers and place their focus on taking care of their homes and families. In 1963, Kennedy’s administration passed the equal pay act, but many businesses became aware of the loopholes toin this act. In 1966 Betty Friedan formed the National Organization for Women, a civil rights organization. In 1968, Women protested the annual Miss America pageant. There were multiple groups during this movement including the liberal feminist groups, which concentrated on equal opportunities for women. The radical feminists were influenced by the New Left and insisted that oppression begins in the bedroom and the kitchen. Cultural feminists focused on the separation of women’s culture from men’s culture and felt there should be separate institutions for women. Women fought in multiple ways such as keeping their names after marriage and abandoning their marital status forms of address.
Many homosexual men and women kept their identities a secret up until the 1960s. In 1961, Frank Kameny was fired from his federal governmental job for being homosexual but was not successful when he took his case to the courts, Kameny’s slogan was “Gay is Good”. In New York City, the New York State authorities were not allowing businesses to serve alcohol to the LGBT community. Activists overturned this in 1966 and LGBT individuals could be served alcohol. The Stonewall Riots began in June of 1969 at a gay bar in Greenwich Village in New York City. The police raided the bar, called Stonewall Inn, and for the first firs timefirstime fiimmemorialorial, gay men resisted. The night following the raid, police beat and arrested any gay protestor yelling out “Gay Power”. Following this event, many organizations appeared in support of what had happened. These riots led to the formation of many gay rights organizations, which then created the gay rights movement.