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Since the 50s

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Rocio Hinojosa
Contemporary American History
Dr. Brad Duren
5/15/2008
Since the 50s
There were many important events in the year 1968. Robert Kennedy is assassinated in
June, Vietnam escalated with the Tet-offensive, and Hippies were roaming the country protesting
the war and fighting for civil rights. The country was in upheaval over the Vietnam War, since
public opinion had turned against it. The nation was dealing with a racial divide between the
white citizens and the black citizens. And the violence peaked in 1968m, as citizens were
dissatisfied with the governments’ foreign policy regarding Vietnam. The most important event
of 1968 was the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin Luther King Jr. was a very influential individual within the black American civil
rights movement. He motivated and rallied the black community into action against the unjust
treatment of African-Americans. King laid careful plans for a campaign of non violent
resistance to secure passage of laws
1
. He led the Montgomery bus boycott, which lasted from
1955 to 1956. Under the system of segregation used on the buses, white people were given the
privilege of sitting in the front or where ever they liked on the bus. The black passengers were
allowed to sit in the back of the bus. Rosa Parks was arrested and charged with violating racial
segregation when she refused to give up her seat to a white passenger. This incident triggered
the Montgomery bus boycott. The next morning King proposed a boycott of public transit, and it
lasted a year. During these days of boycott, King was arrested, his home was bombed, he was
subjected to personal abuse, but at the same time he emerged as a Negro leader of the first rank
2
.
Martin Luther King Jr. also led a march on Washington in 1963, where he delivered his “I have a
1
Allen J. Matusow. The Unraveling of America: A History of liberalism in the 1960s. New York, Harper & Row
Publishers, 181.
2
http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1964/king-bio.html. Web accessed 5/15/08.

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dream” speech. Two months after his speech congress passed a new civil rights law
3
. He
conferred with President John F. Kennedy and campaigned for President Lyndon B. Johnson; he
was arrested upwards of twenty times and assaulted at least four times; he was awarded five
honorary degrees; was named Man of the Year by Time magazine in 1963; and became not only
the symbolic leader of American blacks but also a world figure
4
. On the evening of April 4,
1968 Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee. His assassination caused
black Americans to riot. The passive resistance policy upheld by Martin Luther King Jr. and his
followers was forgotten, and the movement fragmented more than it already was. This event, in
my opinion, caused the civil rights movement to come to a standstill for a while. With no
significant leader for the movement the factions were at a loss of what to do. If MLK had lived,
the black community would be a very different community than it is now.
Vietnam was created out of Indochina after the Geneva accord, which split Indochina into
Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Vietnam was then split into North Vietnam and South Vietnam.
North Vietnam was controlled by Ho Chi Mihn and Ngo Dinh Diem was installed by the U.S.
government in South Vietnam. Since the United States had denied Indochina’s request for help,
they turned to Russia. After eight years of fighting with the French, who were trying to regain
control of that area, the United States was asked to get involved on the side of the French. This
conflict raged for many years without solution and no solution was ever reached. Through his
term, Nixon strived for Vietnamization, He hoped to build up the strength of the South
Vietnamese forces and supply them with weapons so they could defend their nation on their own.
The bloody details of this war were publicized and broadcast on television. This had the public
crying out for the end of the war and the return of the solders. Student activist across America
3
Martin Luther King, Jr.: I Have a Dream. http://youtube.com/watch?v=iEMXaTktUfA&feature=related. Web
accessed 5/15/08.
4
IBID-2.

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Rocio Hinojosa Contemporary American History Dr. Brad Duren 5/15/2008 Since the 50s There were many important events in the year 1968. Robert Kennedy is assassinated in June, Vietnam escalated with the Tet-offensive, and Hippies were roaming the country protesting the war and fighting for civil rights. The country was in upheaval over the Vietnam War, since public opinion had turned against it. The nation was dealing with a racial divide between the white citizens and the black citizens. And the violence peaked in 1968m, as citizens were dissatisfied with the governments’ foreign policy regarding Vietnam. The most important event of 1968 was the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a very influential individual within the black American civil rights movement. He motivated and rallied the black community into action against the unjust treatment of African-Americans. King laid careful plans for a campaign of non violent resistance to secure passage of laws1. He led the Montgomery bus boycott, which lasted from 1955 to 1956. Under the system of segregation used on the buses, white people were given the privilege of sitting in the front or where ever they liked on the bus. The black passengers were allowed to sit in the back of the bus. Rosa Parks was arrested and charged with violating racial segregation when she refused to give up her seat to a white passenger. This incident triggered the Montgomery bus boycott. The next morning ...
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