Skip to main content
Close

Welcome to the new Annenberg Learner website! All of the current series have migrated to our new, streamlined interface. The legacy site is available at archive.learner.org through January 31, 2020.

Close
Menu

A Biography of America

The Sixties

Professor Scharff weaves the story of the Civil Rights movement with stories of the Vietnam War and Watergate to create a portrait of a decade. Lyndon Johnson emerges as a pivotal character, along with Stokely Carmichael, Fanny Lou Hamer, and other luminaries of the era.

View Transcript

Professor Scharff weaves the story of the Civil Rights movement with stories of the Vietnam War and Watergate to create a portrait of a decade. Lyndon Johnson emerges as a pivotal character, along with Stokely Carmichael, Fanny Lou Hamer, and other luminaries of the era.

Enhanced Transcript Page 1

Program 24: The Sixties/Vietnam and the Civil Rights Movement

Donald L. Miller with Waldo E. Martin, Jr., and Virginia Scharff

Introduction

Martin: What do you think separates the sixties?…

Scharff: The sixties is a period when the container bursts. Bursting out of all these incredible energies, the civil rights revolution…

Miller: And the Vietnam War.

Martin: When I think about the sixties, they sort of push into the seventies.

Miller: And to Watergate. A tumultuous decade. Today on A Biography of America, “The Sixties.”

Enhanced Transcript Page 2

Imagemap: link to IRC Credits

A Small Few Making A Huge Difference

 Scharff: Great things sometimes appear first as small disruptions in the normal routine. On Feb. 1, 1960, four freshmen from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College walked into a Woolworth’s store in Greensboro, North Carolina. They sat down at the lunch counter, and one said, “I’d like a cup of coffee.” “We do not serve Negroes,” they were told.

But instead of leaving, the students stayed. Each day they returned to the Woolworth’s lunch counter, with more and more supporters joining them. And by week’s end, a thousand students, most of them black, but a few whites, demonstrated in downtown Greensboro. Within two months, student demonstrations against segregation had broken out in fifty-four cities, in nine states, and by end of the year, some 70,000 people in 150 cities and towns had participated in sit-ins.

The participants knew from the beginning that they were making history. The movement that swept through the South and across the nation in the 1960s did not happen overnight. Its roots reached back to the African Americans who had struggled against slavery, and to Frederick Douglass and Ida B. Wells, fighting terror and betrayal after the Civil War; and to the activists who had opposed Jim Crow in the early twentieth century; and more recently, to the NAACP’s legal victories and the Montgomery Bus Boycott of the 1950s.

By the early 1960s, among African Americans all over the South, there was a spark of rising expectations. The federal government had begun to come around. President Truman had taken the first step after World War II, desegregating the armed forces. In the mid-`50s, the Warren Court’s landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education had declared, after more than half a century of legalized race discrimination, that separate public facilities were inherently unequal, and were therefore against the law.

Pressured by the Brown decision, President Eisenhower grudgingly committed federal troops to escort African American students who went to register at formerly all-white Little Rock High School in Arkansas. It seemed that a second Reconstruction was under way. The movement had more money, more federal support, more grassroots organization, and a growing army of student volunteers to join community activists.

In 1960, political organizer Ella Baker had helped the students to form their own group, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, known as SNCC. Meanwhile, Reverend Martin Luther King became the movement’s charismatic leader. By the early `60s, hundreds of white volunteers — students, clergy, lay people moved by King’s appeal to their consciences — had joined thousands of African Americans in the struggle.

The revolution demanded activists’ courage in the face of potentially deadly violence. In May of 1961, CORE, the Congress for Racial Equality, organized “freedom rides” on buses from Washington to New Orleans, a direct action attempt to desegregate interstate transportation. In town after town as they moved through the deep South, the Freedom Riders were threatened, mobbed, beaten, and jailed.

John F. Kennedy and Civil Rights

President John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert, the Attorney General, watched closely as the movement grew, but they worried about alienating powerful white Southern Democrats. And in truth, the Kennedy brothers were a lot more interested in the Cold War against communism than in dismantling segregation at home. While the President sent a secret invasion force on a disastrous mission into Cuba’s Bay of Pigs, and went to the brink of nuclear war over the installation of Soviet missiles in Cuba, he dragged his feet on civil rights.

Kennedy’s inaction infuriated black activists like James Baldwin and Malcolm X, already impatient with the pace and direction of change. “Back off the campaign of direct actions,” the Kennedys told civil rights leaders. “Focus on voter registration.” Movement veterans were reluctant to give up any tactic, but they did scale up voter registration drives in the southern towns and cities, where whites had long prevented blacks from even registering to vote.

Whites responded with intimidation and terror and murder. Harassed, assaulted, shot at, SNCC activists who worked in the South marveled at the courage of the local people who gave them food and shelter at such great risk. The SNCC activists determined to put their lives on the line for justice.

In Birmingham, Alabama, in May of 1963, police chief Bull Connor turned fire hoses and attack dogs loose on crowds of demonstrating schoolchildren. It was hard to turn away when the television networks broadcast images like this one.

These kinds of events finally pushed President Kennedy to announce that he would introduce major civil rights legislation.

Kennedy: “We are confronted primarily with a moral issue. It is as old as the Scriptures and is as clear as the American Constitution. The heart of the question is whether all Americans are to be afforded equal rights and equal opportunities.”

By August of 1963, a national television audience watched, live on all three networks, as Martin Luther King led the massive March on Washington, and told about his dream. King: “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up, live out the true meaning of its creed, that all men are created equal.” A new commitment, a new spirit. But President Kennedy was assassinated in November.


Lyndon Johnson and Civil Rights

The torch passed to the new president, Lyndon Johnson. Now Johnson was sincerely dedicated to ending legal discrimination. But he was also calculating: he hoped to go down as one of the greatest Presidents in history, and he believed that he could make his reputation, for all time, on the cause of civil rights. Civil rights legislation could be the cornerstone of a larger program of reform, a program to rebuild the cities, train the poor for jobs, provide health care to indigent and elderly people, to declare War on Poverty, and bring about a Great Society.

Johnson: “We are going to build a Great Society, where no man or woman is a victim of fear or poverty or hatred.”

Johnson was a human volcano, a contradictory personality who embodied the deep conflicts of his time. Full of good intentions and strong beliefs, he also had a huge ego and a legendary capacity for vulgarity and manipulation.

A patriot, a pragmatist, and a self-deceiver, he was both good ol’ boy and genius politician. Kennedy’s sophisticated circle called him “Uncle Corn-Pone.” But he was also a master manipulator to the Senators who had known his power as Majority Leader.

Johnson’s presidential press secretary, George Reedy, recalled that “there was no sense in which he could be described as a pleasant man. His manners were atrocious; not just slovenly, but frequently calculated to give offense. “And yet, at the same time, Reedy said, Johnson was capable of doing “something so magnificent that all of his nasty characteristics would fade.”

As President, Johnson had the experience, the savvy, and the nerve to push through the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964. The act banned race discrimination in public accommodations, restaurants and theaters, and hotels and motels, and outlawed segregation in state-supported institutions like schools and libraries and parks and playgrounds. It gave the Justice Department new powers to enforce citizens’ civil rights, and it established a commission to handle discrimination in private employment.

And with a word inserted, almost as a joke, into Title VII of the law, a provision that would have an impact nobody foresaw at the time, the act even banned discrimination on account of “sex.” In Johnson’s words, the revolution had been “written in the books of law.” But for SNCC volunteers who had lived with the fear and reality of bloody violence, who had seen the effects on African Americans of the grinding poverty and denial of basic opportunity, and attacks on human dignity, the Civil Rights Act was a halfway measure. It was just too little, too late.

The 1964 Democratic Convention

When the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, a SNCC-led group, went to the Democrats’ 1964 presidential convention in Atlantic City, and challenged the all-white Mississippi state party’s delegates’ credentials, Johnson was furious. He tried to get the Freedom Democrats to go home and quit spoiling his convention.

Freedom Democrat Fanny Lou Hamer, a former sharecropper and the granddaughter of slaves, saw Johnson’s reaction as betrayal.

In 1963, Hamer had been beaten nearly to death just for trying to register voters in Mississippi. “I question America,” she said, as national television audiences watched, riveted. Hamer: “Is this America, the land of the free and the home of the brave, where our lives be threatened daily because we want to live as decent human beings in America?”

Another SNCC volunteer, Stokely Carmichael, put the matter differently. Black people, he said, had learned that they could not rely on their so-called white allies. African Americans needed to learn to fend for them-selves, to develop Black Power.

Carmichael: “The real problem with violence is that we have never been violent. We have too non-violent, too non-violent.”

It appeared that the interracial coalition that powered the movement was beginning to unravel.

Enhanced Transcript Page 3

Events Leading to the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution

And in truth, the President, their most powerful ally, did have other things on his mind. Far from Atlantic City or Washington or Mississippi, in the divided Southeast Asian country of Vietnam, the United States was involved in a civil war. In 1964, few Americans could have located Vietnam on a map. But the roots of the conflict reached back to decisions made during and after World War II.

Presidents from Truman on saw Vietnam as a strategic battleground in the Cold War. The U.S. had been sending money and military supplies to Vietnam since the 1940s, to aid a French colonial government fighting against Communist nationalists, led by Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam’s most visible and popular leader. Ho wanted independence for Vietnam.

When Ho’s Communist troops decimated French forces at the battle of Dien Bien Phu, the French withdrew from Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh would not, however, be allowed to preside over the independent (and Communist) Vietnam he believed he’d won on the battlefield. Instead, the United States insisted that the country be partitioned, with Ho’s forces moving north, and a non-Communist government to be established in the south. The result was a civil war, as Ho fought ruthlessly to reunify the country he believed had been split in two and stolen by imperialists.

President Eisenhower had argued that the United States had to make a stand in Vietnam, or risk the fall of Asian countries to Communism like “a row of dominos.” Ike committed hundreds of millions of dollars each year in aid to the government of South Vietnam. And President Kennedy increased the aid and began to commit American “advisors” to assist the South Vietnamese army. By mid-1964, more than 20,000 of those supposedly noncombatant soldiers were in Vietnam.

But the American-backed government in South Vietnam, headed by Ngo Dinh Diem, was weak, corrupt, and it never attracted the support of the majority of its people. South Vietnamese officials stole millions of dollars in American aid and military supplies, and they carried out campaigns of terror, instead of land reforms, in the countryside. When a Buddhist monk burned himself to death to protest the Diem government’s actions, the President’s powerful sister-in-law, Madame Nhu, joked that she’d be glad to “provide the mustard for the monks’ next barbecue.”

In the 1960s, most Americans did believe in the necessity of fighting Communism. The American mass media pounded home the message of a Communist threat on a daily basis. Johnson’s policy advisors all agreed that he couldn’t abandon South Vietnam to a Communist takeover. Indeed, they said, he should ratchet up the war against Ho Chi Minh and his supporters in the south, guerrilla fighters known as the Viet Cong, if Johnson hoped to win the war.

Well Lyndon Johnson wasn’t going to be the first American president to lose a war. But he wanted to proceed gradually, rather than to declare war against North Vietnam and commit enormous resources and huge numbers of American soldiers to fighting the war. And so Johnson’s Vietnam War began with a lie. In August of 1964, using a trumped-up attack against an American ship in the Gulf of Tonkin as an excuse, Johnson got Congress to pass a resolution giving him a free hand to do whatever he chose in Vietnam.

The War in Vietnam

By the time the United States finally admitted defeat in 1973, Johnson and his successor, Richard Nixon, had sent more than two million American troops, dropped 7 million tons of bombs (when only 2 million tons of bombs had fallen in all of World War II), and they’d sent transport planes to drop a million pounds of toxic chemicals, destroying half of Vietnam’s forests. Hundreds of Vietnamese hamlets and villages were destroyed, and millions of Vietnamese civilians and soldiers had died. Over 58,000 Americans were killed, and an untold number of American troops returned to the United States permanently scarred physically, emotionally, and psychologically.

Only two senators voted against the Tonkin Gulf Resolution. But in time, millions of Americans came to see that measure as the fatal step into a war that made Americans wonder about the wisdom of trying to fight Communism everywhere. And that had been a fundamental tenet of the Cold War.

Vietnam devastated the hope and the idealism symbolized by the sit-ins, by King’s moving speeches, and by the Civil Rights Act. Government resources now went not into rebuilding cities, or fighting poverty, or ending discrimination, but instead, into the war. In the battle between guns and butter, guns won.

Nobody really knew what it would mean to win the war. The President said he meant to keep the promise of “self-determination” for Vietnam. But was that the same as keeping non-Communist officials in power? Did winning require wiping out the Viet Cong, or overthrowing Ho Chi Minh and reunifying Vietnam?

Without clear objectives, how could the U.S. even know how to win? The men around Johnson buried their doubts. They tried to take all intelligence reports at their most optimistic, and if the news from the front wasn’t good, well, they just made up some good news, like the notorious “body counts”, the aggregate figures of dead bodies found after battles, who might have been enemy troops or might have been friendly civilians, but who were always counted as enemy dead, either way.

And those body counts reflected the most fundamental American problem. In a strange country, in a time of civil war, defending an unstable regime in the name of democracy, Americans never knew who was friend and who was enemy. Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese Army, however, were fighting on their home turf, with clear purposes: reunify the country and win independence. Undeniably, many were also fighting to establish a Communist government, and certainly their methods could be as terrible as those of their enemies.

But every bomb that dropped strengthened Ho’s resolve to keep fighting until American will failed. President Johnson and his generals kept telling the American public that the war was going well; it was almost won; there was “a light at the end of the tunnel.” But who was going to fight this foe?

The soldiers were young, and disproportionately they were nonwhite and poor. Black activists furiously denounced a war in which, they said, the nation’s most oppressed people were asked to make the greatest sacrifices. King: “The promises of the Great Society have been shot down on the battlefield of Vietnam, making the poor, white and Negro, bear the heaviest burdens, both at the front and at home.”

As draft calls rose and rose, the more affluent draft-age men found ways to get out of serving. Poor boys were nearly twice as likely as their better-off peers to serve in the military, to go to Vietnam, and see combat. You could even break it down by neighborhoods. One study of Chicago found that young men from low-income neighborhoods were three times as likely to die in Vietnam as boys from high-income areas.

Enhanced Transcript Page 4

Imagemap: link to IRC Credits

The Tide of Protest Rises

More and more Americans, always a minority, according to polls, but a large and influential minority, began to oppose the war openly, a war that was coming home to them on their television sets. Between 1965 and 1968, in hundreds of cities and towns across the nation, millions of people took part in demonstrations against the war. And as the tide of protest rose, people in authority began to regard everybody who opposed the war as “the enemy within.”

Lyndon Johnson seemed hardly aware that his efforts to win the war had led him into the very undemocratic practices of lying to the public and spying on the American people. Support for, or opposition to, the war became a test that divided friends, and families, and generations, and classes. Young people raised in comfort and optimism looked at Vietnam, at the waste of the chance to solve so many problems at home, and they became angry and disillusioned.

While a minority of antiwar activists moved toward more militant politics and even violent anti-government activities, most simply melted away from the movement. And they took consolation in new consumer pleasures: sex and drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. Vietnam brought the violence of the war into the nation’s streets. And broken by his efforts to win an unwinnable and indefensible war, Johnson decided not to run for re-election in 1968.

Johnson: “I have concluded that I should not permit the Presidency to become involved in the partisan divisions that are developing in this political year.”

It was a devastating year. As Tim O’Brien, one of the finest chroniclers of the Vietnam War, recalled, 1968 was a year in which “smart men in pinstripes could not agree on even the most fundamental matters of public policy. The only certainty that summer was moral confusion.”

The nation looked on stunned as first Martin Luther King, and then Robert Kennedy, who was running for the Democratic nomination on a peace platform, were assassinated. Protests became more frequent, and more violent. By a plurality, a deeply divided country elected that old Cold Warrior, Republican nominee Richard Nixon, to be President of the United States.

Nixon: “We are going to enforce the law, and Americans should remember that if we’re going to have law and order.”

Nixon and the Watergate Scandal

Nixon had run a curious and brilliant campaign. He promised he had a “secret plan” to end the war. And he pounded away at the idea that something had to be done to restore law and order at home. Even as he moved to extricate the United States from the war, President Nixon took official deception to levels nobody had ever imagined.

He ordered a huge secret bombing operation against Cambodia, Vietnam’s neighbor and a neutral country. And Nixon and his White House staff also began to plan a massive campaign to control all sources of information about the war. Anybody who dared question American policy became, in their eyes, an enemy, and enemies could legitimately be spied on, bugged, and arrested.

Early in the morning of June 17, 1972, Washington, D.C. police caught five burglars at the offices of the Democratic National Committee in the fashionable Watergate Complex. One of those burglars, James McCord, was security coordinator for CREEP: The Committee to Reelect the President. When two Washington Post reporters, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, pursued the story, they uncovered conspiracy at the top.

The White House had threatened corporations with legal problems if they didn’t contribute to CREEP, and then used the millions in illegal campaign contributions to hire “dirty tricksters” to sabotage opposition candidates, to create a “plumbers’ unit” to break in on and wire-tap political enemies. They also used the Internal Revenue Service to harass more than four thousand so-called “enemies.” They spied on, subverted, and harassed a variety of American dissidents.

Nixon and his men worked hard to cover up their crimes, but as each new revelation broke, pressure mounted for a Congressional investigation. The Watergate scandal eventually led to a vote in the House to impeach the President.

News footage: “Signify by saying `Aye,’ all those opposed, `No.’
Mr. Flowers – Aye,
Mr. Mann – Aye,
Mr. Drinan – Aye.”

But before Nixon could be brought to trial, he resigned in disgrace, on August 8, 1974.

Nixon: “To leave office before my term is completed is abhorrent to every instinct in my body. But as President, I must put the interests of America first. Therefore, I shall resign the Presidency effective at noon tomorrow.”

President Nixon, like America in the 1960s, had discovered the limits of power. The price both paid was enormous.

You Decide: Did the Feminism Movement Improve American Women's Lives?

Since the 1960s, the role of women in America has changed dramatically. From politics to business to academics to sports, women have gained positions of prominence that would have been unimaginable to earlier generations. Much of this change can be attributed to the feminist movement, which detailed significant issues for women’s lives and encouraged women (and men) to rethink the role of women in our society.

While one major goal of the movement, an Equal Rights Amendment, was never realized, other legislation and an overall change in cultural attitudes have had substantial impact. Yet many objectives of the movement are still unfulfilled, and some in America believe that feminism has had a negative impact on the family and on our society.


Did the feminist movement improve American women’s lives?

Yes: What if you knew that American women were still politically under-represented at the end of the twentieth century?

No: What if you knew that American women had made huge strides in politics by the end of the twentieth century?

Before 1975, only two women had served as members of the president’s cabinet. By 1999, nineteen women had been cabinet members, including Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, the highest-ranking woman ever to have served in American government. In the final Congress of the twentieth century, both senators from the nation’s largest state, California, were women.

As of 1999, women comprised 52 percent of the population of the United States, but only 9 percent of members of the United States Senate, 12.9 percent of members of the House of Representatives, 13 percent of federal judges, and 6 percent of governors. No woman had yet served as president or vice president of the United States.

Did the feminist movement improve American women’s lives?

Yes: What if you knew that 60 million American women worked for pay by 1997, but the average male worker still earned much more than the average female worker?

No: What if you knew that women had made great gains in business and the professions?


Business and the Professions

Women held professional and managerial jobs in unprecedented numbers at the end of the century. In some cases, they had risen to the top of major corporations. The sight of women doctors, lawyers, and college professors was no longer unusual. 10.6 percent of board seats in Fortune 500 companies were held by women. If a “glass ceiling” barring women from top management remained, women were knocking hard on it.

Although the gap between women’s and men’s wages narrowed considerably since 1964, women who worked full time at the end of the century still made only 76 cents for every dollar earned by male full-time workers. The situation was worse for working mothers, who earned an average of 60 cents for every dollar earned by working fathers. 25 percent of all women who worked held low-paying, traditionally female jobs: secretary, bookkeeper, elementary school teacher, waitress, sales clerk.

Did the feminist movement improve American women’s lives?

Yes: What if you knew that women who held down full-time jobs continued to do most of the housework and childcare?

No: What if you knew that employers were more and more willing to adjust to women’s family responsibilities?


The Family Claim

With 62 percent of mothers of children under age 6 in the workforce, more and more employers in the United States realized that they needed to accommodate the demands of family life to retain good workers. Flextime, job sharing, telecommuting, and family leave policies showed that companies were getting serious about helping women meet their long-standing responsibilities as unpaid caregivers.

Even women who worked full-time still carried the load at home. Women still did 80 per cent of all childcare and two-thirds of all housework. Accounting for home and childcare along with full-time employment, American women, on the average, worked 15 more hours per week than American men.

Did the feminist movement improve American women’s lives?

Yes: What if you knew that half of all marriages ended in divorce, and divorce can be disastrous for women, particularly if they have children?

No: What if you knew that women in the United States gained unprecedented access to education, job opportunities, and political rights?


Dependence and Independence

Although the vast majority of American women still married at some point in their lives, they were no longer as financially dependent upon their husbands as they were before the feminist movement. Marriage was no longer a woman’s best career option.

All studies indicate that, in general, fathers’ standards of living improved after divorce. Mothers, on the other hand, found themselves too often juggling jobs, childcare, and housework alone. Support from fathers was often too little, too late, and sometimes nonexistent. Nearly forty percent of divorced mothers lived in poverty.

With what you now know, did the feminist movement improve American women’s lives?

 

The Future of Women in America

How will American women’s lives change in the future? How will those changes affect those around them? American society in general? The course of American history?

You will write the next chapter!

Questions to Ponder

Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act outlawed discrimination according to sex. At the time, few Americans understood the significance of that small provision of the landmark law or foresaw the ways in which a massive, grassroots women’s movement would transform women’s roles and rights in the last third of the twentieth century.

1. If women’s choices have expanded, have the pressures on them also grown greater?

2. What inequalities between women and men remain?

3. How does race affect women’s lives?

4. How has the women’s movement changed men’s lives?

Bibliography

Hartmann, Susan. From Margin to Mainstream. New York: McGraw Hill, 1989.

Rosen, Ruth. The World Split Open: How the Modern Women’s Movement Changed America. New York: Viking Penguin, 2000.

Williams, Joan. Unbending Gender: Why Family and Work Conflict, and What to Do About It. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Webography

Eisenhower

Dwight D. Eisenhower 
http://www.whitehouse.gov/history/presidents/de34.html  
A biography and a portrait of Eisenhower.

Eisenhower Center 
http://history.cc.ku.edu/heritage/abilene/ikectr.html  
A page of links related to Eisenhower.

The American Experience/Presidents/Eisenhower/Presidential Politics 
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/presidents/34_eisenhower/eisenhower_politics.html 
An essay on Eisenhower’s presidency, with links to other essays about him and to speeches and other documents.

Character Above All 
http://www.pbs.org/newshour/character/essays/eisenhower.html  
An illustrated biography of Eisenhower with related links.

Eisenhower and Little Rock

Little Rock Central High 40th Anniversary 
http://www.centralhigh57.org/  
A little Rock High School site with photos and related links. Includes an account of the events following the Brown decision and a link to a chronology of the 1957-58 school year.

Eisenhower and Vietnam

Eisenhower Presidential Chronology 
http://www.nps.gov/history/museum/exhibits/eise/presidency.html  
A chronology of Eisenhower’s presidency with a reference to his introduction of the “domino theory.”

The American Experience/Vietnam/Timeline/No Frames 
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/vietnam/time/tl1-noframes.html  
A timeline from 1945-1963 with a reference to Eisenhower and his “domino theory.”

John F. Kennedy

John F. Kennedy 
http://www.whitehouse.gov/history/presidents/jk35.html  
A portrait and a biography of John F. Kennedy.

The American Experience/Presidents/Kennedy/Presidential Politics 
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/presidents/35_kennedy/kennedy_politics.html  
An essay on Kennedy’s presidency, with links to other essays about him and to speeches and other documents.

John F. Kennedy Inaugural Address 
http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/presiden/inaug/kennedy.htm  
The text of John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address.

John F. Kennedy 
http://www.americanpresident.org/history/johnfkennedy/biography/campaignsandelections.common.shtml 
A detailed account of John F. Kennedy’s presidency with photos and related links. Provides links also to biographies, information about his family life, etc.

Martin Luther King, Jr., NHS – John F. Kennedy 
http://www.jfklibrary.org/Asset-Viewer/LH8F_0Mzv0e6Ro1yEm74Ng.aspx  
The video of John F. Kennedy’s 1963 speech containing the quote, “…We are confronted primarily with a moral issue”

Today in History: November 22 
http://lcweb2.loc.gov/ammem/today/nov22.html  
An account of the assassination of John F. Kennedy with photos and related links.

Robert F. Kennedy

Robert F. Kennedy 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_F._Kennedy  
A biography of Robert F. Kennedy with photos and links.

The Civil Rights Era

Bull Connor 
http://www.unt.edu/lpbr/subpages/reviews/nunnelle.htm  
A review of the book Bull Connor, by William Nunnelly, that provides information about Connor as well as quotes by him.

Powerful Days in Black and White 
http://www.kodak.com/US/en/corp/features/moore/mooreIndex.shtml  
A gallery of Charles Moore Civil Rights photos.

A Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 
http://www.lib.lsu.edu/hum/mlk/srs216.html  
An account of the contributions of Martin Luther King. Includes a chronology of important dates in his life, a list of his writings, etc.

Martin Luther King Jr. 
http://www.time.com/time/time100/leaders/profile/king.html  
A biography of Martin Luther King with a list of degrees and awards he attained as well as the text of his “I have a dream…” speech.

March on Washington, 1963 
http://www.angelfire.com/pa/marchonwashington/  
A photo and a brief description of the March on Washington with links to a civil rights photo tour, information about the Civil Rights Movement, etc.

Accounts of the Sit-ins (NC A&T)

Sitting For Justice 
http://americanhistory.si.edu/brown/history/6-legacy/freedom-struggle-2.html  
An account of the Woolworth sit-in, with photos.

Civil Rights Movement 1955-1965: Sit-Ins 
http://www.watson.org/~lisa/blackhistory/civilrights-55-65/sit-ins.html  
An account of the Woolworth sit-ins.

The Greensboro Sit-ins 
http://www.sitins.com/index.shtml  
An extensive site from the Greensboro Public Library and the Greensboro News & Record.

Fannie Lou Hamer

Fannie Lou Hamer 
http://www.beejae.com/hamer.htm  
A photo and a biography of Fannie Lou Hamer.

Hamer Speech at Democratic Convention

Say It Plain: Fannie Lou Hamer (1917-1977) 
http://americanradioworks.publicradio.org/features/sayitplain/flhamer.html  
A biography of Hamer with the text of her testimony at the Democratic National Convention on August 22, 1964, including her quote, “I question America.” The page also links to an audio recording of the speech.

Lyndon Johnson

Lyndon B. Johnson 
http://www.whitehouse.gov/about/presidents/lyndonbjohnson  
A portrait and a biography of Lyndon Johnson.

Lyndon Baines Johnson Library Home Page 
http://www.lbjlib.utexas.edu/  
The Lyndon Baines Johnson Library Home Page. Includes links to oral history interviews, the President’s daily diary, biographies of President and Mrs. Johnson, etc.

The American Experience: Lyndon B. Johnson, 36th President 
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/presidents/36_l_johnson/l_johnson_politics.html  
An essay on Johnson’s presidency, with links to other essays about him and to speeches and other documents.

Character Above All: Lyndon B. Johnson Essay 
http://www.pbs.org/newshour/character/essays/johnson.html  
An essay on the character of Lyndon Johnson with photos and related links.

Tonkin Gulf Incident

The Avalon Project: The Tonkin Gulf Incident; 1964 
http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/tonkin-g.htm  
The text of President Johnson’s message to Congress on August 5, 1964, and the subsequent joint resolution of Congress.

Tim O’Brien on Vietnam

Writing Vietnam – Tim O’Brien, President’s Lecture, 21 April 1999 
http://www.stg.brown.edu/projects/WritingVietnam/obrienpreface.html  
A photo of Tim O’Brien and link to his speech with the quote “…smart people in pinstripes couldn’t make their minds up about the rectitude of the war”

Author, veteran Tim O’Brien recounts tales of Vietnam 
http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~hbf/obrien.html  
A photo of Tim O’Brien and an account of a lecture he gave, in which he recounts tales of Vietnam.

Stokely Carmichael

Stokely Carmichael, Rights Leader Who Coined ‘Black Power,’ Dies at 57 
http://interchange.org/Kwameture/nytimes111698.html  
A post-mortem biography of Carmichael.

Kwame Ture Website frontpage 
http://interchange.org/KwameTure/  
A photo and a page of links to Stokely Carmichael sites.

Richard Nixon

Richard M. Nixon 
http://www.whitehouse.gov/history/presidents/rn37.html  
A portrait and a biography of Richard Nixon.

The American Experience: Richard M. Nixon, 37th President 
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/presidents/37_nixon/nixon_politics.html  
An essay on the Nixon’s presidency, with links to other essays about him and to speeches and other documents.

Character Above All: Richard M. Nixon Essay 
http://www.pbs.org/newshour/character/essays/nixon.html  
An essay on the character of Richard Nixon with photos and related links.

Richard Nixon 
http://www.americanpresident.org/history/richardnixon/biography/alifeinbrief.common.shtml  
An in-depth biography of Richard Nixon. Includes links to his life before the presidency, his family life, his impact and legacy, etc.

Nixon & Cambodia

Before the Holocaust: Nixon’s War 
http://www.edwebproject.org/sideshow/history/nixon.html  
A history of the American bombing of Cambodia. Provides links to information about Cambodia before the holocaust, Cambodia colonized, etc.

The American Experience | Nixon’s China Game 
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/china/  
A site about Nixon’s role in U.S.-China relations. Provides links to profiles of people involved, including Nixon, as well as a timeline, an account of Nixon’s visit to China, etc.

Nixon & Vietnam

The American Experience/Vietnam/Who’s Who 
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/vietnam/whos/index.html  
An overview of all the leaders involved in Vietnam and a description of the roles they played. Provides links to a Vietnam timeline, accounts of the war, etc.

Nixon & Watergate

The Washington Post’s Watergate site 
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/national/longterm/watergate/front.htm  
An introduction to the Watergate scandal with photos and related links.

Time & Again: Watergate Timeline 
http://watergate.info/chronology/brief-timeline-of-events 
A timeline of the events of the Watergate scandal.

Watergate & Nixon 
http://www.betterworldlinks.org/index.php?cat=3756  
A page of links to sites about Watergate and Nixon.

President Nixon’s Resignation Speech 
http://www.pbs.org/newshour/character/links/nixon_speech.html  
The text of President Nixon’s resignation speech.

The articles of impeachment against Nixon 
http://watergate.info/impeachment/articles-of-impeachment  
The text of the articles of impeachment against Nixon.

The Women’s Movement

The Feminist Chronicles 
http://www.feminist.org/research/chronicles/chronicl.html  
Includes a chronology of the modern women’s movement and many key documents.

Series Directory

A Biography of America

Credits

Produced by WGBH Boston in cooperation with the Library of Congress and the National Archives and Records Administration, and with the assistance of Instructional Resources Corporation. 2000.
  • Closed Captioning
  • ISBN: 1-57680-202-7

Units