1948 – 1977 Growth and Turmoil Growing Tensions

Key Ideas

  1. Social and political tensions erupted into a decade of expanding civil rights activism in the 1960s. Women were dynamic contributors to and leaders of this work.
  2. The Vietnam War, turbulent Presidential politics, and Cold War policies had a tremendous impact on women’s lives and contributed to the outpouring of activism.

Introduction

Growing Tensions, 1963-1974

By 1963, social and political tensions in America seemed to reach a tipping point. The mythology of the ideal suburban home was starting crumble. And the environment was being polluted. Demands for racial equality were growing. And more people—particularly young people—outside of the Deep South were taking notice. America was primed for a decade of turmoil.

The demand for civil rights was not contained solely within the Black community. Latinx, indigenous, and LGBTQ people, and others were also part of the fight for recognition and equality. Demands for civil rights touched upon a wide range of political and social issues, which Americans passionately debated. These included who could vote, who was allowed to get married, who was entitled to earn fair wages, who was allowed to join unions, and even who could be president.

Section Essential Questions

  1. How and why did post-war ideals of heteronormative, consumer-driven, suburban families fall apart in the 1960s? To what extent did they remain intact?
  2. What role did women play in the expanding realm of civil rights activism of the 1960s?
  3. How did outside factors like the Cold War, Presidential politics, and the Vietnam War shape the lives of American women?

Resources

Rachel Carson’s testimony before Congress about the danger of pesticides.
Curriculum Connections:
Technological innovations, Environmental movement
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A letter from a mother to her daughter, who was participating in Freedom Summer in Mississippi.
Curriculum Connections:
Segregation, Jim Crow Era, African American Civil Rights Movement, Voting Rights
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Fannie Lou Hamer’s testimony at the 1964 Democratic National Convention.
Curriculum Connections:
Segregation, Jim Crow Era, African American Civil Rights Movement, Voting Rights
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Two photographs documenting the anti-war activists who visited Hanoi during the Vietnam War.
Curriculum Connections:
Vietnam War, U.S. Foreign Policy
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Mildred Loving’s marriage license and warrant for arrest for violating Virginia’s miscegenation law.
Curriculum Connections:
Segregation, Jim Crow Era, African American Civil Rights Movement, Expanding Civil Rights Movement, Women’s Rights Movement
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Photographs of women participating in the occupation of Alcatraz island by Indians of All Tribes.
Curriculum Connections:
Expanding Civil Rights Movement, Indigenous Cultures of the Americas
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Photographs and artifacts from Shirley Chisholm’s 1972 presidential campaign.
Curriculum Connections:
Women’s Rights Movement, African American Civil Rights Movement, Voting Rights
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Representative Barbara Jordan’s Statement on the Articles of Impeachment of President Richard Nixon.
Curriculum Connections:
Cold War, U.S. Constitution, Women’s Rights Movement, African American Civil Rights Movement
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Life Stories

The story of a grassroots organizer and outspoken leader in the Black civil rights movement.
Curriculum Connections:
Segregation, Jim Crow Era, African American Civil Rights Movement, Voting Rights
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The story of a grassroots organizer and activist for Puerto Rican rights.
Curriculum Connections:
Expanding Civil Rights Movement
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The story of an organizer of domestic workers and a civil rights activist.
Curriculum Connections:
Segregation, Jim Crow Era, African American Civil Rights Movement, Home Economics
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The story of a labor rights activist and champion for farmworkers.
Curriculum Connections:
Expanding Civil Rights Movement, Industrial Work
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The story of a transgender activist who participated in the Stonewall Uprising and fought for equal rights.
Curriculum Connections:
Expanding Civil Rights Movement
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The story of a military physical therapist who served in Vietnam and suffered from PTSD.
Curriculum Connections:
Vietnam War, U.S. Foreign Policy
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