The World in 1966
1966 was a year of great turmoil that served as a catalyst for great change, both in America and the world.
The Cold War was not a war in the traditional sense. The U.S. and the Soviets did not march to meet each other on the battlefield, instead, they endeavored to implement international policies and technological advancements that would put the other in check and negate the stalemate that arose from their mutual possession of weapons of mass destruction. The first strategy adopted by the U.S. was that of containment, in which the U.S. would attempt to impede on the growth of communism by preventing nations from adopting that style of government, thus starving it, allowing for the governments that had already adopted communism to collapse and adopt capitalism. This policy was actualized in the financial backing of rebellions and uprisings, rigging elections, and troop deployment, most infamously with the wars in Korea and Vietnam.
The Cold War was a period of unparalleled fear and paranoia. Nuclear weapons were and remain the most destructive force made by man, and the eradication of a nation or even the world was not unimaginable. Citizens were encouraged to prepare for Armageddon with fallout shelters, and children were instructed to practice “Duck and Cover” drills by hiding under their desks. While these practices existed primarily during the 1950’s, the paranoia remained until 1991 when the Soviet Union fell.
By 1966 America had 389,000 soldiers deployed in Vietnam. The conflict had claimed 2,344 U.S. soldiers and would claim 6,350 more later that year. Additionally, the war cost the American people $700 million dollars in 1965 alone, with 1966 demanding $15.1 billion more. The Vietnam War had never been a popular conflict, primarily pushed by the Executive branch, but 1966 is about the time where unrest began to turn into disdain. Protest movements among the American populace gained strong momentum and became a driving force in popular culture and the arts.
The impact of the war was not felt among the American people alone, it was at this point that Congress began to express its doubts on the wisdom of fighting the Vietnamese. Democratic Representative Clement Zablocki (Wisconsin) predicted that the expenses from the war could bankrupt the U.S. treasury, prolonged action could become devastating to the American home front, additionally, Democrat and Senate Majority leader Mike Mansfield, once one of the biggest supporters of the Vietnam War, started to oppose the conflict as early as 1962 when he took a fact finding tour and arrived at the conclusion that the chances of not getting pulled into a large and aimless conflict were slim. However, congress was conflicted on pulling out, now that so many soldiers had died. This hesitation left LBJ virtually uncontested to expand the war effort by a large degree. This isn’t to say congress had a unanimous sentiment. In binary terms, the Democratic party was not in favor of a prolonged conflict, while the Republican party was concerned that allowing a communist force to persist could threaten the nation in the near to immediate future.
One of the first strategies in the active combat role of American forces in Vietnam was intense bombing campaigns. Operation Rolling Thunder began 1965 focusing on North Vietnamese in an effort to intimidate them from providing assistance to Vietcong forces and to coerce negotiations for surrender. In 1966 LBJ expanded the scope of the mission to target oil resources outside of Hanoi, however neither of these goals would be met.
When America withdrew from Vietnam the war had cost over $173 billion (not adjusted for inflation) and the lives of 58,220 U.S. soldiers.
While the Soviet Union won the first leg of the race with such accomplishments of launching the first man, Yuri Gagarin, into orbit in 19, the tide began to change when President John F Kennedy challenged NASA to land a man on the moon by the end of the decade. NASA took the incredible challenge to heart and began several missions to perfect the art of manned space flight for prolonged periods of time. The mid 1960’s saw several milestones in the field of space exploration thanks to the Gemini program, such as the first space walk, and the first space docking. NASA would go on to successfully put a man on the moon when astronaut Neil Armstrong stepped out of the Eagle lander of the Apollo 11 spacecraft in 1969, taking one small step for man, and one giant leap for mankind.
While the Civil Rights movement has its roots in activism as early as the late 1800’s, the 1950’s and 1960’s saw the among the greatest pushes towards the ideals of equality, as this is when the movement began to protest the establishment. During this period of time Civil Rights protests took the form of non violent resistance, utilizing tactics such as sit ins, boycotts, and large demonstrations. Prior to this phase of the movement, efforts have been focused on mobilizing sympathizers, and then attempting to reform the system through litigation, with one of the greatest triumphs being 1954’s Brown V. Board of Education, which desegregated schools. In general, however, the U.S. government ignored the call for equality, not challenging the call, but approaching it with gross negligence.
There was also a sentiment that resistance should take a more violent direction, after activists began to observe the sometimes fatal consequence of demonstrations, but the non violent resistance proved itself as the far more effective strategy. The demonstrations of the 1950’s and 1960’s publicized the injustice African Americans endured like never before. Protesters calling for rights already promised to them within the constitution of their country were beset by police, assaulted by vicious dogs, and blasted with high pressure fire hoses. The great injustices inflicted over values held self evident made it difficult for the government to feign ignorance. They began to feel the pressure and the 1960’s saw a number of bills advocating civil liberties come into being.
LBJ’s political career took off in 1937 when he won a seat in the House of Representatives for the state of Texas. He was an active supporter of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal program, and was persuaded by the president to remain politically active despite his attempts to join the war effort in 1941. Johnson took President Roosevelt’s advice to heart and won a seat in the U.S. senate for the Democratic party representing the state of Texas in 1948. Johnson would go on to become the youngest Senate Majority Leader representing the Democratic party in 1955.
LBJ made his first grab at the White House in 1960. He was up for reelection to the Senate at the time, but pushed for legislation that would allow him to run for both positions simultaneously. Johnson had gained appeal, particularly in the northern United States, by pushing an unprecedented amount of Civil Rights legislation, but failed to overcome John F. Kennedy in the Democratic primary. His efforts did earn him an invitation to serve as Kennedy’s running mate, which he accepted.
Johnson was elevated to the Presidency with the tragedy of the assassination of President Kennedy in 1964. President Johnson’s first efforts were to push for many legislative actions support of Civil Rights and to wage a “War on Poverty” introducing programs such as Medicare in 1966.
However, President Johnson is perhaps most infamously known for escalating the war in Vietnam. President Kennedy had established a policy of financially backing the French efforts in the conflict, but the United States started sending more troops and began extensive bombing campaigns in 1965. The Vietnam War was devastating to President Johnson’s political image, and he opted not to run for reelection in 1968.
Mao helped form the CCP in 1921 after he became confident that communism way the key to recovering China’s economy and political influence, however, the CCP soon entered a power struggle with the nationalist Guomindang party which began to purge communism in the late 1920’s. This conflict continued into the 1935, when Mao became chairman of the CCP. Mao was already working with others to form a efficient political machine than the CCP, frustrated by the lack of progress in implementing change and expelling the Guomindang party. The later became a reality in 1949, upon which Mao declared the establishment of the People’s Republic of China.
Mao’s leadership in the PRC can be broken down into three phases. The first phase of the PRC imitates and relies heavily on the Soviet Union. This is in part due to the birth of the PRC coinciding with the birth of the Cold War, a line was drawn in the sand, and the Soviet Union was the most obvious ally. The Soviet Union also had a socialist system under way, so imitating some elements of their infrastructure was an efficient idea. However, Mao did wish to implement certain elements, such as bureaucratic structure, differently than the USSR.
Mao did not want to merely imitate another country, however, and wanted China to become fully independent and self sufficient, and attempted to actualize this in phase two of the PRC. The second phase of the PRC is represented by Mao’s Great Leap Forward initiative, which focused on elevating China to an industrial superpower via backyard factories in communes. This initiative failed catastrophically, obliterating the Chinese economy and bringing about a large scale famine. It also cost China an alliance with the USSR, as Nikita Khrushchev yielded Soviet aid after witnessing the ends of Great Leap Forward.
The Great Leap Forward cost Mao influence within the Chinese government as he yielded to other officials to begin reversing the changes made by his initiative and undo the damage to the nation. In an attempt to regain power Mao influenced the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution by mobilizing radical youths into the Red Guard. This movement brought forth an extremely violent decade in China, designed to silence any opposition to Mao. The revolution, and the third phase of the PRC, ended with Mao’s death in 1976.
Soon afterwards in the early 1940’s Nguyen adopted the name Ho Chi Minh (“Bearer of Light”) and lead a resistance to combat the Japanese and French occupation of Vietnam, supported mostly by China throughout the second World War. When Japan surrendered in 1945 Ho Chi Minh expected Vietnam to be given back to the Vietnamese, however, the Allied forces returned the colony to the French. Ho Chi Minh’s forces, the Viet Minh, moved quickly to occupy Hanoi, establishing the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in 1946 with Ho Chi Minh as president. Though diplomacy was attempted, eventually hostilities broke out between the DRV and French leading to the Vietnam War.
In 1955 an official of the NAACP, Rosa Parks, was imprisoned for refusing to forfeit her bus seat to a white passenger. This lead to a boycott as a form of protest, organised by the Montgomery Improvement Association. Dr. King accepted the role of president of the organization, serving as spokesman of the protest. Dr. King galvanized local churches, and advocated non violent resistance, appealing to sympathetic whites to lend their voices to the movement. In 1956 the Montgomery Improvement Association proved victorious as Supreme Court outlawed the bus segregation laws enforced by Alabama. This thrusted Dr. King into the national spot light as the key to the success of the boycott.
Dr. King would continue to advocate Civil Liberties throughout the 1960’s despite facing harsh adversity, and being arrested on several occasions. One particular jailing of note followed a massive campaign in 1963 within Birmingham, Alabama. The peaceful protesters at Birmingham were televised being abused by officials, who attacked them with dogs and fire hoses. Dr. King was jailed and wrote an extremely influential letter defending the protests in Birmingham. President John F. Kennedy had intervened on Dr. King’s behalf before, releasing him from jail, however the events at Birmingham are what persuaded him to begin introducing significant legislation to ensure Civil Rights on a federal level.
The fame of Dr. King peaked after his speech on August 28th, 1963 which advocated equality with the now immortal phrase “I have a dream.” Dr. King would be named Time Magazine’s Man of the Year that same year and he received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. The following year demonstrators planned a march from Selma, Alabama to Montgomery in order to protest the measures taken to deny African American’s their voting rights within the southern states. The march only reached the outskirts of Selma before officials attacked demonstrators with tear gas and physical violence by order of the Governor. Dr. King then arrived in Selma to galvanize demonstrators and sympathetic whites to protest these injustices. These actions persuaded President Lyndon B Johnson to push for the Voting Rights Act of 1965. With federal legislation on their side, Dr. King was able to speak to demonstrators from the steps of the Montgomery capitol building on March 25th.
Dr. King met some harsh resistance following his victory in Selma as different sentiments within the Civil Rights movement began to surface. In 1965 James Meredith was shot while attempting to march across Mississippi to advocate voting rights. Some members of the movement began to feel that they were starting to see diminishing returns in regards to white sympathy, and Dr. King’s methods of nonviolent resistance were becoming a liability. Dr. King held true to his convictions, playing key roles in maintaining peace amongst the ranks, such was the case when riots broke out amongst protests in Chicago during 1966.
Dr. King refocused his campaigns from addressing voting rights to poverty in 1967, advocating for federal measures to address the issue. In 1968 sanitation workers went on strike in Memphis, and Dr. King soon arrived to lead demonstrations advocating change. However, demonstrations soon broke out into violence, but Dr. King continued to plead and advocate for a peaceful approach. Soon after, Dr. King was assassinated as he stood upon a balcony at the Lorraine Motel by James Earl Ray.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was instrumental in social change like none before or since, and was imperative to America as we know it today. He was invaluable in saving the soul of America, a soul that from inception was constituted with the verve of liberty, the idea that all men and women are created equal, a soul that from inception had laid obscured and dormant within a body that was American in name and number alone.
The Vietnam War proved to be a violent catalyst for the New Left Movement. The group organized many rallies in 1964, and despite gathering healthy numbers towards their cause members began feeling the impact of butting heads with the adamant nature of the war effort. Morality started dropping and the group started becoming more radical to compensate, advocating more communist ideals towards the end of the 1960’s, which ended up further splitting their numbers until the group faded away.
In 1965 Stokely Carmichael mobilized African Americans in Lowndes County Alabama. Despite being the majority population, no African Americans had registered to vote, so in order to mobilize voters several advocates formed the Lowndes County Freedom Organization with the symbol of a black panther, leading to the party nick name “The Black Panthers.” The Black Panthers managed to get their representatives on Lowndes County ballots and succeeded in registering enough voters to outnumber any opposition, however, not a single representative was elected due to voter fraud, cheating the party out of a significant win.
In 1966 student activists Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale adopted the name and logo of the Lowndes County Freedom Organization to form The Black Panther Party for Self Defense. The group was originally founded to protect African Americans from White hostility and police brutality. The Black Panthers’ first actions were to deploy armed members to observe political demonstrations held by African Americans advocating Civil Rights, in particular within communities where the police have demonstrated a habit of harassment. The armed patrols did not intervene in police misconduct, rather their presence was intended to intimidate officials from violence, however, police soon opened fire resulting in a number of heated gun fights between Black Panthers and the authorities. In response California began drafting legislature to ban citizens from carrying loaded fire arms in public, leading the party to form a protest that thrust the Black Panthers into the public consciousness in 1967.
As the party grew its ideals started to change from protecting Civil Rights advocates to violently over throwing a corrupt bureaucracy, leading to an escalation in violence against police officers committed by party members. In 1968 J. Edgar Hoover, head of the FBI, began a serious effort to crack down on the Black Panther Party. As a result the party entered a state of disarray and had dissolved by 1970.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a federal law which prohibited discrimination in all public accommodations, operations affecting commerce, and any program receiving federal funds. It also established the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
NOW was named “The National Organization for Women” instead of the “National Organization of Women” in order to avoid alienating men who supported equal rights.
LSD, even in small doses, can cause acute mental distress and disturbance. The drug has been experimented with the ends of both mind control and torture.
Medicare’s greatest opposition came from politicians who felt that health insurance should be a matter left to states, not the federal government, and claims that Medicare was a measure of socialism. However, by 1963 over half of elderly Americans had no health insurance what so ever. Politicians began to see the urgency of this issue.
Medicare was drafted by Wilbur Mills (Democrat, Arkansas) to be available to citizens over the age of 65 who were eligible to receive social security or railroad retirement benefits. Coverage would come in two parts: hospital and nursing coverage, and supplemental medical coverage. Congress approved of the program and it became an amendment to the Social Security Act of 1935. President Johnson signed the bill on July 30th 1965 and began to be administered in 1966.
In 1966 the National Traffic and Motor Safety Act was passed. This act created standards for vehicles on the highway and stipulated that they be inspected regularly. All vehicles had to meet specific standards beginning in 1968.
In another effort to regulate automotive safety, President Johnson pushed for the consolidation of federal automotive departments towards the end of focusing on air, water, and road transit. This resulted in the Department of Transportation.
The attack on James Meredith was one of the contributing factors in a split among civil rights groups along the lines of peaceful protest and violent retaliation and was where the slogan “Black Power” originated.
De Gaulle did not agree with the structure of NATO, namely with how much control the United States held over the use of nuclear force. He demanded that France be on equal footing within NATO, however, these demands fell upon deaf ears. As a result, De Gaulle began to pull forces out of NATO.
The Great Leap Forward proved to be a complete failure. The industrial manufacturing plants failed to produce an acceptable yield, and were neglected to a state of disrepair. Communes were unable to produce goods at acceptable rates either do to the lack of locally available resources, resulting in the few products manufactured being of very poor quality. In addition to this, farmers had been relocated to commune assignments and restricted from farming using time proven techniques, resulting in famine and ruined farmland. The economic impact of the Great Leap Forward was so devastating that it forced Mao Zedong to step down as the chairman of the People’s Republic of China and Chinese Communist Party in 1959, though he remained in power. Mao’s successors immediately dismantled communes and began returning property to rural farmers in a successful attempt to reverse the damages caused by the Great Leap Forward.
Mao took this as a step backwards, and in 1966 began to assemble a counter cultural movement that would discourage disobeying Mao and utterly rejecting “Old China.” Mao recruited students into a group called the “Red Guard”, so named after a little red book containing Mao’s sayings. Mao’s Red Guard took to the streets to destroy Chinese cultural artifacts and harass bureaucracy that was not in Mao’s favor. The Cultural Revolution, or Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, managed to ban cultural works of art (to be replaced with pro Mao art), closed schools down to divert students towards labor camps, and physically assaulted and arrested political leaders, leaving Mao virtually unopposed until a prolonged power struggle with his former second in command Liu Shaoqi.
Red Guard leaders were arrested shortly after Mao’s death in 1976, concluding the long and violent revolution.
Important Court Cases and Legislation
The Bacon family and local residents of the park had argued that the park was a private one, and as such, is not subject to the Civil Rights Act. However, Supreme Court ruled that the park served a public function, and as a result must be treated as a public entity. This ruling extends to all parks, and dictates that all parks must be protected by the fourteenth amendment.
This bill allowed Federal authoraties to step in and administer voter registration should it be determined that discrimination was preventing citizens from voting. This also suspended literacy requirements, which was a popular method of turning away voters.
This bill was challenged in 1966 by South Carolina’s State Attorney General, Daniel R McLeod. He claimed that the bill violated state rights and was therefore unconstitutional. Federal Attorney General, Nicholas Katzenbach defended the bill before the Supreme Court who ruled in favor of the Voting Rights Act, as it is an example of the Federal government defending the fifteenth amendment rights (the federal and state governments are prohibited from restricting a citizen’s right to vote based on “race, color, or condition of servitude”) of her people.
Miranda’s trial was held on June 7th, 1963. His attorney, Alvin Moore, argued that Miranda had not been informed of his right to legal counsel before his interrogation and thus was denied his fifth amendment rights which protected him from self incrimination. The judge did not rule in Miranda’s favor, sentencing him to two consecutive 20-30 year prison terms. Moore appealed this decision eventually succeeding in bringing the case to Supreme Court.
On June 6, 1966 Supreme Court ruled in favor of Miranda in a 5-4 decision. Miranda established that prior to questioning authorities must inform a person of their right to remain silent, that any statement they make may be used as evidence against them, and that they have the right to an attorney. Because Miranda had been denied his fifth amendment rights due to negligence towards legal counsel before signing a confession, Miranda’s sentence was lifted.