Changing Times for All Americans

1950-1970 was a very turbulent time in American politics as well as for the people living in America, it was a time of great change for the ordinary citizen. Not only were the rights of African Americans being fought for, but other minorities such as Mexicans and Native Americans, were also fighting for their freedoms. Additionally, sex also played a role, as women were putting their feet through the door of equality.

Through the work of activists such as Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks, the African community was gaining ground in the war for equality. After the assassination of King in 1968 however, riots broke out across the country and the African community. John F. Kennedy, the president during the movement, was slow to fully support the Civil Rights movement until the incidents in Birmingham, Alabama. After many nonviolent protests held by Martin Luther King’s civil rights group, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in the city, police reacted with dogs, arrests and powerful fire hoses. With the aid of television, the African American citizens were able to make significant strides, by having the abuses televised and viewed by millions of Americans. Soon after the March on Washington, congress would pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which would ban segregation in all public buildings as well as end discrimination in terms of employment. Although the passing of a law was a huge step forward, African Americans would continue to face discrimination, especially in the South.

On the feminine front, women were also making strides. Helen Gurely Brown wrote the book Sex and the Single Girl. In her book she advocated women to use their looks and feminine charm to get free things from men, as well as to flirt with men to move up in occupation and social status, and finally, to only marry once your looks start to deteriorate. Betty Friedan wrote The Feminine Mystique. Friedan argued that women were not allowed to do certain things men were. Socially, they were expected to be housewives, raise children and to grocery shop. In politics, they rarely had a voice, and that voice was not very strong. Eventually, Friedan would help found the National Organization for Women, an organization that helped get women into the work place, and fight against discrimination in the work place.

Mexicans were also fighting for their rights around the same time. Cesar Chavez, an activist, staged strikes from Mexicans working on farms. He also rallied for buyers of the products to make sure they were only buying from farms that supported unions. In March of 1968, 10,000 Mexican students in LA walked out of school to protest the poor education received.

Natives also began protesting for more rights. They protested for more control of their reservations and funding from the government to help. Through many demonstrations throughout the United States, Natives were granted more sovereign power of their land and given the funding needed to help them maintain the way of life that they wanted.

1950-1970 was a time of enlightenment for the American people. It was time when people really started to see people of different religions, races and genders as human. It is important to note that although equality was gained on paper, it was gained culturally for many more years. Despite the law, many racists and sexists would continue to combat the ongoing fight for equality. We as Americans, can all take pride in the fact, that we are a lot better off than we were 50 years ago.


Keene, Jennifer D., et al. Visions of America: a History of the United States. Pearson, 2017


10 thoughts on “Changing Times for All Americans

  1. How awful that people who were standing up for their rights, were hurt, beaten, and killed. I could see if they used excessive force in riots, but not protests. I am not sure which women activist had the right ideas, but grateful for the advances we received because of these times. I can see where both had great ideas. I think alot of women still use their looks and bodies to pursue advancements. With all that was accomplished during the fight for equality, people are still racist, and women are still paid less.

    1. It’s true the world can be a cruel unforgiving place. People are mean and stupid and not easy to change ways. Unfortunately that’s just how the world works it’s quite the shame.

  2. Helen Gurely Brown and Betty Friedan both had very different views on how women’s treatment should change and the ways in which they should handle things. Women did begin to take things more seriously and realize that they were tired of the ways in which things were “suppose” to be. They believed they should be able to make choices for themselves based off of how they felt, or what they wanted to do. Not because they were suppose to do it based off of what others thought or how things had been for previous years. Women began to protest and stand up for the rights they deserved up there with the men. They began to put down places and ideals that looked at women as things, rather than people. Such as the Miss. American pageant, or beauty pageants in general. Women began to demand higher respect, and over change in America.

  3. It is sad looking back at all of those who risked their lives just to live equal lives! I cannot imagine how scary it was to not be a “white man” in that time era. You either had two choices, live a miserable unequal live or stand up for what you believed in and pretty much risk your own life. I’m happy those civil right leaders stood up for what they believed in. Without them we would have the freedom that we do today. We may be far from being “equal” but we sure have came a long ways.

    1. It takes true leaders to go and change the world as we know it. Without people like that the world would go astray and ultimately be destroyed. Thankfully with problem that occur in the world leaders always with rise to confront those problems.

  4. I completely agree that we are better off than we were 50 years ago, and have made major improvements. I also believe that we aren’t quite at full equality, because we still hear issues on the news and such of racism and sexism. Nice article.

  5. It’s true that we hear about racism and sexism now a days but how prevalent is it really? You may hear about it when it happens but the new usually blows everything out of proportion. How can we tell the truth from the fake news?

  6. I agree with and like when you said, “Through the work of activists such as Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks, the African community was gaining ground in the war for equality.” I had similar ideas when going over the blog post and thought they played a big role in this time era. Very relevant to the advancements in the time period.

  7. Your statement about us being way better then we were back then is very true. We have made some major improvements in the way we handle equality. The world is not perfect though so there is still some issues throughout our world. With the leaders we had back then and now, things seem to still be going into the right direction of equality.

    1. I agree that we are going in the right direction, but I still feel that we have a LONG way to go. The way the world is, humans will always find a “superior” standpoint in the terms of race. That is why discrimination is still very prevalent. No matter if it is people arguing what is the best video game console, to how many genders there are, people will always see one side more superior than the other.

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