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.


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?


Rachel Carson’s testimony before Congress about the danger of pesticides.
Technological innovations, Environmental movement
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