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The 1950s were a time in American history of tremendous affluence. Americans enjoyed a level of prosperity and comfort not seen in many years. The middle class expanded during this decade as millions of Americans returned to their lives after the war. They could buy homes in the growing suburbs, televisions and other consumer products. American prosperity, however, came with its own problems. First, the United States had to address its racial problems, particularly in the American South and segregation. The Civil Rights movement fought to end Jim Crow laws and many white Americans worked to undermine equality. The desegregation of American schools, which began in earnest after the 1954 Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education, set off a firestorm in the United States over the integration of public schools. Second, women were expected to go back into the homes to raise children and take on traditional gender roles. Third, Americans lived during a time of atomic anxiety. They feared a nuclear war with the Soviet Union that would have killed millions of people. Not all Americans conformed to what society expected of them. Teenagers, the Beat writers and poets, artists and Rock and Roll challenged the status quo in American society. Finally, in American politics, former Allied commander Dwight Eisenhower won the presidency in 1952 and reelection in 1956. He was the first Republican to win the White House since Herbert Hoover in 1928. Eisenhower was a moderate Republican who supported many New Deal programs, cutting military spending and balancing the budget. (Essentially, Eisenhower would not be welcome in today’s Republican Party). He would lead America during this decade of prosperity but also the trials facing the nation over Civil Rights and the Cold War.
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www.americanyawp.com——American YAWP Chapter 26.
Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (1954)
Richard Nixon on the American Standard of Living (1959)
John F. Kennedy on the Separation of Church and State (1960)
Little Rock Rally (1959)
QUIZ 9 (Short Essay format!)
Describe the prosperity of the 1950s. What changes did Americans encounter after the war? How did many Americans, such as Vice President Richard Nixon, see their prosperity in relation to the rest of the world. How and why did some Americans challenge the status quo of the 1950s? What did the Supreme Court rule in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka in 1954? How did many white Americans react to this ruling? How did the United States government enforce the integration of public schools? Finally, when he ran for president in 1960, how did John F. Kennedy reassure Americans about his Catholic faith and the separation of church and state? Use specifics/direct quotes from these primary sources!