How did the Scopes Trail, Elvis and the Civil Rights Movement change American culture?

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boryung | Middle School Teacher

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In the Scope Trial, a high school teacher named John T. Scopes was indicted for teaching evolution. The trial embodied the clash between science and religion in America. New scientific advances were bringing to light new knowledge that clashed with Christian doctrine. The Fundamentalists in America were devout Christians opposed to the teaching of evolution in schools. Although Scopes was found guilty, the Fundamentalist cause was weakened significantly by the reasoning of Scope's attorney, Clarence Darrow. Darrow called William Jennings Bryan, attorney for the prosecution, to the witness stand. A philosophical argument between Darrow and Bryan made Bryan and his Fundamentalist beliefs appear foolish. The Trial represented the clash between religion and science in America and Americans' increasing willingness to reconcile religious beliefs with scientific information. 

Due to the Scopes Trial, American culture became less Fundamentally religious and more willing to accept scientific knowledge, even that which seemingly contradicted religion.

Elvis Presley was a singer who revolutionized American music in the 1950s. He combined black and white elements in his music, creating a whole new genre called rock and roll. His work helped to bridge the gap between black and white music. Presley became wildly popular amongst millions of younger people, but more conservative Americans  disapproved of Presley's sexually suggestive way of dancing and teenage girls' reactions to such dancing. 

Elvis Presley changed American culture by combining black and white musical traditions in one American style of music. He also helped to sexually liberalize America.

During the Civil Rights Movement, activitists to outlaw racial discrimination against African Americans and regain the black vote. They fought for the desegregation of jobs, public facilities, education, and politics. Sit-ins, boycotts, and rallies were effective, especially because they appeared on national television, bringing civil rights issues to national attention. After decades of struggle, civil rights activists were successful in making many gains for racial minorities. Legislative achievements of the Civil Rights Movement include the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlawed discrimination by employers and in public places and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which restored the African American vote.

The Civil Rights Movement, especially the Black Power Movement that was part of it, helped integrate American culture with its African American elements. African Americans began to feel proud of their culture and heritage. They expressed that pride, adding a cultural element to the Civil Rights Movement and bringing African American cultural creations to prominence.

The Scopes Trial, Elvis Presley, and the Civil Rights Movement all helped to liberalize American culture. The Scopes Trial represents a religious change, while Elvis Presley and the Civil Rights Movement were changes related to music and race.

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