Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

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America's History in the Making

Egalitarian America

Theme 2

Motivated by the conviction that everyday citizens could bring about positive social change, movements and individuals challenged authority in schools, churches, corporations, families, and government.

During the sixties and seventies, the United States saw a call for more democracy in all areas of life as cultural expectations and norms changed in schools, communities, the workplace, and religious settings. Students reaffirmed their rights to express themselves on college campuses. Later on, students sought greater participation in university affairs and curriculum reform. With mounting protest against the Vietnam War, students took part in teach-ins that gradually became more like antiwar rallies.

The women's movement also played an important role in the call for more democracy. Through the establishment of the National Organization for Women, women not only sought fair pay and equal opportunity, but a more egalitarian form of marriage. Through court challenges, women secured more rights. For example, Title IX required schools to spend comparable amounts on women's and men's sports programs, and the landmark case of Roe v. Wade ruled that constitutional privacy rights encompassed a woman's decision on whether or not to end her pregnancy.

The call for greater democracy also extended to protecting environmental and consumer rights as individuals successfully challenged the government and business to protect the safety and welfare of the general public. The environmental movement produced legislation that halted the depletion of the country's natural resources, regulated polluters, improved water and air quality, and protected endangered species. Paralleling this movement was the development of a consumer movement that protected the interests of the purchasing public and made business more responsible to consumers, particularly in regards to product safety.

Primary Sources

Texts

Text Artifact

Port Huron Statement of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS)

Tom Hayden,The Port Huron Statement, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and the student Department of the League for Industrial Democracy, 1962.


Artifacts

Cover Ms. Magazine, May 1982

Ms. Magazine, MAY COVER (1982). Courtesy Ms. Magazine.

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