Analyzing the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War Essay
In order to validate the statement, “The years from 1952 to 1975 in U. S. history were marked by tremendous political and social turmoil that led to major changes in American society,” one would have to evaluate the role played by the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War in bringing about and contributing to those changes.
The purpose of this essay is to evaluate whether or not the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement indeed contributed to the social and political turmoil during the time period of 1952-1975 that changes American society in a major way. The Civil Rights Movement is considered to have started in the 1950s, when an open battle began against racial segregation and discrimination. The social factors that contributed to it were the growth of the urban black middle class, and the lasting impression of freedom offered to black soldiers during World War II.
The political factors were the political mobilization of northern blacks, which dominated the Democratic Party at this time. After the Cold War ended, many white Americans joined the movement because they felt that the racial injustice was becoming an embarrassment to a country that wanted to be perceived by other nations as a model nation. People that played an important role were labor unions with substantial black membership, ministers, educators, students at black colleges, and other professionals.
It was officially kicked off when the United States Supreme Court decided on May 17, 1954 to announce its decision to the Brown v Board of Education in Topeka. This decision declared that segregation of public schools utilizing any method based on race was considered unacceptable under the eyes of the law. This decision came with much tension, and also helped to bring awareness to many other issues of segregation in the South.
When Rosa Parks decided to not give up her seat for a white passenger in 1955, it was answered in response by the Supreme Court ruling again that segregating public transportation was also to be illegal. One of the most known leaders of the Civil Rights Movement was Martin Luther King, Jr. His nonviolent methods of protesting racial injustice allowed for many people to join the cause due to the high moral approach that he utilized (Brinkley, p. 745-749. ) The Civil Rights Movement contributed to the major changes in American society.
The reason that this is statement is validated is because the efforts of this turmoil during this period is realized today. They accomplished their goals, which were to end racial segregation and stand for equality for all American citizens. While Martin Luther King didn’t live to realize his accomplishments himself, he left behind a legacy that showed many that goals can be accomplished through nonviolent methods. The political changes are that laws were put into place to ensure the goals of Civil Rights activists are upheld.
The social changes are that in most cases people are treated equally in regards to race. The Vietnam War, once called “the most disastrous of all America’s undertakings over the whole 200 years of history” by George Kennan (Brinkley, p. 773) was a war where the United States entered to support South Vietnam. The goal was to help South Vietnam maintain an anticommunist government. What began as providing aid, turned into intervention, and then full-fledged involvement.
In the beginning, few Americans protested America’s involvement in the war, however this drastically changed as time continued. Peace marches took place in several major cities, including Washington, D. C. and New York. The Vietnam War was a huge factor in the turmoil of the time period. The turning point was the Tet Offensive, where the American people actually were able to see through news footage, the devastation that was occurring in Saigon, among other places in South Vietnam (Brinkley, p. 773-779).
The statement is validated because people learned of what information was not originally being provided to them, and decided that the United States’ involvement should not continue at the extent that it was. The American people got their way with this issue because we succeeded this war. When looking at the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War together, it is quite apparent that these two had a dramatic impact on American political and social change. The American people moved in a different direction, opposing both where they once accepted both.