Mid-20th Century US: Changes in Culture, Economy, Population - Essay Sample

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  5
Wordcount:  1254 Words
Date:  2023-03-13


Some events in the American culture and society caused many changes to the lives of the American people in the mid of 20th century. In the US there were historical cultural and political movements that changed the American culture in the mid of twentieth century. After the Second World War in 1945 there were radical changes in the US that led to sharp increase in population growth, a developed economy, and a raised standard of living. By the end of 1950s, a series of events happened through American society, causing progressive movements that changed American politics. The events that led to the change in the style of American politics include movements to agitate for civil rights, counterculture movements, and the movement for the Mexican-American civil rights. The four events which happened in the mid of the twentieth century helped to shape the politics of modern America.

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After the infamous American Civil War that led to the abolition of slavery and slave trade in the US, the black Americans in the US continued to suffer from evils like racial segregation/isolation and economic oppression. In the 1950s, Black Americans led by activists like Martin Luther King Jr and Malcolm X started a sequence of campaigns of civil struggle emphasizing nonaggressive protests and civil noncompliance. There were successful efforts from movements like "Sit-ins" which became the order of the day across south America like North Carolina which helped to raise national sentiment (Martin and Greg, 20). Also, there were marches where the activists made long walks in an effort to show the need for the Black Americans in exercising their voting constitutional rights. The effects of the CRM (civil rights movements) on American politics had been manifested from mid-20th century and beyond. From 1960, the Black Americans, who were known to be active in the activities of the CRM, joined the world of politics to safeguard the rights they had gained through struggles. For example, John Lewis, who was a member of a committee formed by student and advocated for a Non-Violent movement, run for a political position to represent the district of Georgia in the Congress in the year 1986 a position that he held for long time. Also, Rev. Jessie Jackson, who was a member of the CRM (Civil Rights Movement) started a party in 1971 known as Rainbow Coalition. In 1984 Rev. Jessie Jackson vied to be nominated as a candidate for the Democratic party and gathered enough votes in the primaries to become the first Black American candidate for the US presidency. Also, at the local level there were political victories for the African Americans that could be linked directly to the activities of the CRM (Martin and Greg, 25). For example, Tom Bradley became the first African American mayor in Los Angeles in 1973 while Douglas Wilder became the first Black American governor for Virginia in 1990.

The development of counterculture in the US started after the upsurge of conformity of culture by the American people in the 1950s. In the mid of the twentieth century, many young people especially those from the middle class of the white American citizens started to reject some of the cultural behaviors by their parents choosing to adopt progressive attitudes (Hollander & Paul, 27). The counterculture activities paved the way for American society to accept alternative lifestyles and liberal ideas especially the white people who were in the middle class economically. Places like Haight-Ashbury and Greenwich village became the center for counterculture activities. Counterculture in the US lasted from 1964-1972 and coincided with the period when America was involved in the Vietnam war. During this time the American youths disregarded some of their parents' cultural standards like racial isolation and their support for America involvement in the Vietnam War. Through counterculture, the thinking towards the issue of sexuality started to loosen in the US (Braunstein, Peter, and Michael William Doyle, 69). For example, women started to protest against the traditional roles that society had accorded them like being housewives and mothers. The counterculture movement in the US-led to the formation of a party called "The New Left" which was a left-wing politics that was started by college students of the middle class in 1960s. The college students formed an organization known as the SDS (Students for a Democratic Society), which was the cornerstone for the New Left. The leadership of SDS thought that colleges were the epicenter from which social and political changes could be achieved.

The movement for the Mexican-American political and civil rights which was also popularly referred as Chicano Movement was a political movement in the US in 1960s (Rowlands & David, 27). The movement was as a result of political and rights to vote that affected the Mexican-American society. The majority of the activists were the youths who raised their issues in the institutions of higher learning all over the world. After few years the movement was widespread in many parts of the country, persuading even other Latino community members to get in the movement to agitate for their political rights.

Since 1968 there have been worldwide protests and uprising that led to political changes similar to what happened in the US. Many of the protests and uprising in capitalist nations in 1968 were fights against dictatorial leadership, state authoritarianism, and colonization. In countries like Brazil, the protests in 1968 were based on the struggle against civil dictatorship. The dictatorial regime in Brazil was opposed to political struggles on three faces, which included the student movement, the cultural agitation movement for the intellectuals, and the worker movement (Reed & Thomas Vernon, 21). The protesters in Brazil had strong rebellious beliefs that there was possibility of getting changes since protests were taking place all over the world. In 1968, students from Poland demonstrated along the streets of Warsaw to force their government to fulfill the promises it had made to the people. The Polish government used anti-intellectual campaigns to brutally suppress the opposition from the students. The protests by the polish students led to the eviction of many people of Jewish origin. Through Apartheid in South Africa, the citizens were sealed off from the political changes and events that were happening in other places around the world. Measures like seizure of passports of those who opposed the South African government, which practiced Apartheid, could not stop the development of political movements led by activists like Steve Biko.

Political and cultural movements in the US and other countries like South Africa, Poland and Brazil changed the politics of these countries. Events like counterculture movements and civil rights movements in the US, anti-apartheid movements in South Africa, struggle against dictatorship in Brazil formed the basis of major political changes that happened in these countries. In countries like the US, many black Americans got chance to vie for the electoral posts, with many of them being elected. In South Africa, after a long struggle against the Apartheid regime, Africans won the war and were able to exercise their democratic rights, which included voting for their leaders. After the Apartheid regime, Africans were able to enjoy lots of rights that they had been denied by the white regime.

Works Cited

Braunstein, Peter, and Michael William Doyle. Imagine Nation: The American Counterculture of the 1960s and '70s. Routledge, 2013:67-75.

Hollander, Paul. "Explaining the Counterculture." Academic Questions 31.1 (2018): 23-32.

Martin, Greg. Understanding social movements. Routledge, 2015:20-25.

Reed, Thomas Vernon. The Art of Protest: Culture and Activism from the Civil Rights Movement to the Present. U of Minnesota Press, 2019:14-35.

Rowlands, David T. "The Chicano contribution to the US civil rights movement." Teaching History 51.2 (2017): 27.

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Mid-20th Century US: Changes in Culture, Economy, Population - Essay Sample. (2023, Mar 13). Retrieved from https://proessays.net/essays/mid-20th-century-us-changes-in-culture-economy-population-essay-sample

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