Chapter 27:

1. Discuss Brown V. Board of Education

Brown V. Board of education (1954) was a case that served as a landmark in the Supreme Court that made the separation of schools for black and whites unconstitutional. The ruling made against an earlier law Plessey V. Ferguson (1896), which allowed segregation that was state sponsored. The decision was reached at Warren’s Court, and voted for unanimously terming the separation of educational institutions as inherently unequal. The plaintiffs in the case were thirteen parents from the City of Topeka who represented twenty children. In the suit, the school district needed to abolish the set policies concerning racial segregation. Oliver L. Brown was a parent who acted as the named plaintiff in the suit, and named after him. The ruling made was in favor of the Board of Education with the panel of judges citing that the separate schools were equal in facilities.

2.0 Who was Ella Baker?

Ella Josephine baker, a renowned human rights and civil rights activist, worked for five decades before her demise in 1986. She was involved in participatory democracy that aimed at changing the formulation from the earlier appeal of democracy. The change called for participation in three main stages. An appeal had to be made to involve grass root people in making their own decisions. Leadership had to be by basis of professionalism and expertise, and not bureaucratic. Direct action had to be conducted to reduce fear of isolation and curb intellectual detachment. Ella was against The Black Church and its influence on Civil Rights Movement, mainly through organization model. She proposed that in case the people were strong and revolutionary; there was no need for strong leaders. This suggested collective leadership as opposed to the existing form of leadership.

3.0 What was Freedom Summer?

Freedom summer was a popular campaign held in the US in 1964, and aimed at registering a maximum number of voters in Mississippi. Prior to the campaign, black voters were highly marginalized in the area. It also advocated for building community centers, Freedom Houses, and Freedom Schools in small towns throughout the region. The organizers were the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO), which was a coalition comprising of the crucial civil rights organizations. The funding was done by SNCC, which was a civil rights organization, and was also a member of COFO. The Freedom summer campaign was a success because of the activist works by earlier black organizations including the SNCC.

Initially black people had to fill a 21 questions form under supervision by a white registrar to check his interpretation of the constitution. Polling places were set up in black churches across Mississippi by volunteers and students.

4.0 What was the Black Panther Party?

It was a revolutionary socialist organization formed by African Americans, and it operated between 1966 and 1982. It gained global recognition due to its influence in black power movement and its influence in U.S politics. It was founded by Booby Seale and Huey Newton in 1966 with a doctrine requiring protection of the black population from police brutality. They used both Marxist and socialist theories to attract a large number of cohorts. Their objectives evolved and expanded leading to its prominent members disagreeing with leaders in public. In 1967, it started its own newspaper, The Black Panther, and also marched against the selective disarmament in the U.S. The group came up with a ten-point program aimed at the government, and it contained their political and economical grievances. They proposed use of socialism, citing Black Nationalism as being black racism. Black Panther party lost its members and respect after allegations of its involvement in extortion and drug dealing.

5. What was the American Indian Movement?

The American India Movement (AIM) can be termed as an organization formed in 1968 in Minnesota to act as a Native American activist. It aimed at correcting the leadership, spirituality, and sovereignty in the country.

The organization was to focus on issues affecting Native Americans who lived in the urban part of Minneapolis. The issues addressed included treaty issues, poverty, and police harassment. With time, it grew steadily to gain members all over the U.S and also in Canada. In 1971, they led a protest by its members all over the country that was named “Trial of Broken Treaties”. Attention focused on AIM when it took over the control center of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and presented their demands. It led protests to advocate for employment programs, and cultural renewal in both urban and rural areas, in the US.

Chapter 28:

1. What was the “great society”?

Great Society composed of domestic programs announced by President Lyndon B. Johnson, and supported by Democrats who were in Congress in the U.S. Their main social reforms included elimination of racial injustice as well as elimination of poverty. Their programs tackled problems in medical care, transportation, and education, with most of the proposals being initially drafted by the New Frontier by John F. Kennedy. Much of the success of Lyndon can be attributed to his ability to persuade masses, and his win in the elections held in 1964. The win increased the number of liberals in Congress making the House of Representatives formed to be named the most liberal since 1938. However, democrats complained that the Vietnam War was undermining the Great society due to the government’s spending. The programs in the Great Society continued under the governance of Gerald Ford, and Richard Nixon.

2. What was the Gulf of Tokin?

The Gulf of Tokin Incident describes two confrontations that involved the U.S and North Vietnam and based on Gulf of Tokin. A part of the confrontations is true while the other is false. In 1964, the USS Maddox was conducting a signal patrol as it was required by DESOTO operations. The result was a sea battle and Maddox presided over, 280 5-inch and 3-inch shells, and four crusader jets to bomb the torpedo boats. One U.S aircraft and three North Vietnam boats destroyed, with no casualties from the U.S. The second incident of the Gulf of Tokin was drafted by National Security Agency of the U.S in 1964. They claimed the occurrence of another sea battle using false radar images to stage the attack of North Vietnamese boats.

a) Who was Betty Friedan?

Betty Friedan was an activist, writer, and feminist in the US, and also key figure in Women’s Movement. She wrote a book The Feminine Mystique that is credited to have started a new form of American feminism during the 20th Century. She formed the National Organization for Women (NOW) in 1966 and voted as its first president. The organization aimed at promoting women to higher standards of the society, equal to men. She stepped down as the president of NOW and organized the Women’s Strike for Equality as the country celebrated the anniversary of Amendment of the US constitution in 1970. She aimed ensuring women had the proper right to vote, and widening the feminist movement. The march attracted a crowd of over 50,000 people, both male and female, led by Friedan. Together with other feminists, she formed other organizations to ensure equal rights in the American constitution.

b) Why did President Johnson suffer a “credibility gap” over Vietnam?

Credibility gap Occurred under Johnson’s rule as a result of skepticism from the public about the latter’s policies and administration regarding the Vietnam War. 

Americans no longer believed statements given by the government regarding the Vietnam War. The public thought that the president was involved in making an overstatement of progress towards winning the war. However, the credibility gap grew to a real crisis following the Tet Offensive that occurred in 1968. President Johnson was trying to convince the public tat the war was in control so as to gain support. He did this by providing contradictory accounts on the state of war in Vietnam. The events happening, including the Tet Offensive, proved otherwise. The contradictory statements and information made by Johnson led to the occurrence of the credibility gap.

c) What was the Tet Offensive?

It was a campaign that was held during the Vietnam War by the military forces and the people of Vietnam against the dealings of the United States and its ally nations. During the campaign, multiple attacks were made on the civilian and military command centers located in South Vietnam. This happened when there was intended to be an armistice without any attacks. The whole operation is known as the Tet Offensive because a cease fire had been declared to allow celebrations of the Tet Lunar New Year. Prior to that, South and North Vietnam had publicly declared a two-day ceasefire for the holidays. The attack occurred on 30th January 1968, and the National Liberation Front attacked some towns in South Vietnam.

The attacks were well coordinated and affected more than 100 cities and towns, involving 800,000 National Liberation Font and its allies. It was termed to be the most widespread military operation to be conducted by either side.

d) Who was George Wallace?

George Corley Wallace, a veteran politician in America served as, the 45th governor, to rule Alabama. He served two non-consecutive terms and later chosen for two consecutive terms. He contested for the U.S presidency four times with three of them being as a Democrat and another one on America Independent Party.  In 1972, assassination attacks plotted against him, which led to his paralysis. He is widely known for his policies on segregation and Southern populist at a time when desegregation was happening. However, he came to denounce his previous political positions citing that he needed to clear his conscience before dying. He entered American politics at an early age of only 19 years and played a role in his grand father’s win. His first position was as an assistant to the attorney general in Alabama. He later becomes too involved in racial issues to be chosen in a reputable position.

e) What was My Lai Massacre?

My Lai Massacre was a mass war in Vietnam, and was between 504 and 347 civilians who were unarmed. The occurrence led to loss of numerous lives in South Vietnam under soldiers from the U.S Army on 16th March 1968. Most of the people who were affected by the combat were infants, women, children, and the elderly. Women got brutally gang-raped during the operation and their bodies mutilated even before the killings commenced.

Only 26 soldiers convicted for their actions during the attack, and only one Lieutenant. He got a life sentence but only served house arrest for three and a half years. The killings occurred mainly in two villages named My Khe and My Lai. The incident created an out roar from other nations after it went public in 1969, making most nations oppose the Vietnam War. The Army soldiers who tried to regulate the war and save the victims were termed as traitors by some American Congressmen.

f) Discuss Watergate

Watergate was a scandal that happened in the U.S and politically inclined. It occurred following unauthorized entry into the headquarters of the democratic National Committee. Nixon’s administration tried to cover up any of its involvement or knowledge of the incident. In 1974, the incident forced President Nixon out of office, being the only resignation given by an American president. Most of his top officials were tried on the incident, and 43 of them incarcerated. At first, 5 burglars had been arrested by the FBI with loads of cash that traced back to Nixon’s campaign. The evidence continued piling including testimonials by former staff members, and taped recordings of President Nixon’s conversations. The recordings had reliable information on the President’s intention to break in, and later to cover it up. Nixon had refused to submit the tapes until a court ruling made against him, and he succumbed to pressure. He resigned as the American President for fear of conviction under the Senate.

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