The 1960s were a decade of change, often so dramatic that some feared for the American way of life. Minorities, women, and young people challenged the Establishment—mostly white, male, and affluent—to honor the equal rights granted to all Americans by the U.S. Constitution. The conflicts, particularly those over the civil rights of African-Americans, were frequently violent and nearly always dramatic. By the end of the decade the Establishment was still mostly white, male, and affluent, but significant steps had been taken to address the injustices in American society.
The Triumph of Nonviolence.
The civil rights movement dominated the attention of white and black Americans during the decade. For African-Americans the 1960s began with the triumphs of nonviolent protestors—led by a Baptist minister from Georgia named Martin Luther King, Jr.—against segregationists in the southern states, Racist whites in the South frequently reacted with violence (and on more than one occasion, cold-blooded murder), but the protestors, mostly college students and white sympathizers from the North, stood their ground. Eventually President John F. Kennedy was obliged to send in federal troops to enforce the laws of the nation, much as his predecessor President Dwight D. Eisenhower had to force school desegregation. The partnership...
(The entire section is 1346 words.)
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