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American History


The1960s ushered in social and economic changes in America. Thesechanges created sharp divisions among the people especially betweenthe young and the old. There were major street protests all over thecountry as citizens demanded various changes within the society. Thecitizens of America wanted the government to implement changes thatwould improve the lives of minorities. The protests for social changewere escalated by the murders of Martin Luther King Junior, who hadbecome the faces of hope for young Americans, President Kennedy. Themost notable divisions within the nation were the protests for womenrights, calls for an end to the war in Vietnam and equal treatmentfor African Americans.

Thewar in Vietnam had always been a source of pride for many Americansof the older generation. The 1950s had experienced improved economicfortunes and many young people felt that the values held by theirparents were not relevant to them in the 1960s (LaFeber,Polenberg &amp Woloch 163).Most young people had experienced improved lifestyles and they thusdid not believe in most of the values that their parents taught themsuch as belief in God and service to their country. Service to thecountry in particular, faced much opposition as young people did notwant to go and fight in Vietnam.

TheAmerican economy had grown exponentially in the 1950s and 60 and thecorporate sector employed many young people who became the new middleclass. The middle class was opposed to the war in Vietnam, a factorthat their parents cherished. The war created divisions between theyoung and the old, as young people refused to join the army to fightin Vietnam. The older generation of Americans was used to serving thecountry without any questioning and this had created social stability(LaFeber,Polenberg &amp Woloch 176).However, the new generation was not interested in the war and it waswilling to question the government. This created big social divisionsbetween the young and the old generation of Americans.

Secondly,the 1960s experienced a surge in social justice, especially aboutequal rights for blacks. The young Americans no longer treasuredslavery as taught by their parents. Both black and white, youngAmericans believed in equal social rights and better livingconditions for all American citizens. Young Americans no longerbelieved in slavery and poor living and working conditions for blackpeople (LaFeber,Polenberg &amp Woloch 196).The 1960s ushered in new role models such as Martin Luther King, whowas the champion for social justice for black people. The new rolemodels believed in better lives for all Americans and this includedblack Americans.

Theclamor for equal rights created deep divisions especially between theyoung and the old and the conservative versus liberal whiteAmericans. Old people had grown up at a time when slavery was thenorm and they strongly believed in the superiority of the whites overblacks. They had accepted thins notion without questioning and theystrongly held onto it. Additionally, with the rise of media influenceand education, some white Americans also began questioning therationality of slavery (LaFeber,Polenberg &amp Woloch 201).Divisions emerged as the society was deeply divided over the issue ofslavery. Young Americans of all races were in the campaigns for equalrights between blacks and whites and this did not impress the oldgeneration.

Finally,the 1960s marked the fight for the rights of women. The women in thesociety were no longer comfortable with the values instilled in themon how to be good women. The earlier generations of women were onlymothers and wives. The women looked forward to marriage and familylife as the patriarchal society only allowed women to work in smalljobs. Most women grew up knowing that men were the heads of societyand women were treated as second class citizens (LaFeber,Polenberg &amp Woloch 172).Women were only allowed to work as housewives and those who workedoutside the home did such jobs as secretaries.

The1960s experienced generational change as young women were noweducated and they wanted equal rights as men. They were no longersatisfied with being treated as second class citizens and they wantedopportunities as those accorded to men. The women of this generationstarted rebelling against the values that had been taught to themabout being good women as they felt that this was what held themback. They partied as hard as the men and they started exploringtheir sexuality just like men did. The women also started holding bigjobs in the corporate sector and challenging men in their ownterritory (LaFeber,Polenberg &amp Woloch 118).The fight for equal rights did not go down well with the oldgeneration as they felt that women were not supposed to work outsidethe home. This was because the society was deeply patriarchal.

Inconclusion, the most notable divisions within the nation were theprotests for women rights, an end to the Vietnamese war and equaltreatment for African Americans. These were divisions based on socialissues that the old and the young people of America did not agree on.Young Americans lived at a time when the country had experiencedeconomic prosperity and they belonged to the middle class. This groupbelieved in different social values from those that were held bytheir parents and they thus wanted different social order for theirgeneration.


LaFeber,Walter, Richard Polenberg, and Nancy Woloch. TheAmerican Century: Volume 2.,2013. Print.