English, A Decade of Promise and Heartbreak


Topic: Reading helps students to develop skills that will make them into a more optimally rounded person. Choose any three skills learned in reading and discuss how each one can help students to be more academically inclined.

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“The 1960s: A Decade of Promise and Heartbreak”
By Kenneth T. Walsh
March 9, 2010 US News

It was a decade of extremes, of transformational change and bizarre contrasts: flower children and assassins, idealism and alienation, rebellion and backlash. For many in the massive post-World War II baby boom generation, it was both the best of times and the worst of times. (7 words)
There will be many 50-year anniversaries to mark significant events of the 1960s, and a big reason is that what happened in that remarkable era still resonates today. At the dawn of that decade of contrasts a half century ago—on Jan. 2 ,1960—a charismatic young senator from Massachusetts named John F. Kennedy announced that he was running for president, and he won the nation’s highest office the following November. He remains one of the iconic figures in U.S. history. On February 1, four determined black men sat at a whites-only lunch counter at a Woolworth’s in Greensboro, N.C., and were denied service. Their act of defiance triggered a wave of sit-ins for civil rights across the South and brought unrelenting national attention to America’s original sin of racism. On March 3, Elvis Presley returned to the United States from his Army stint in Germany, resuming his career as a pioneer of rock-and-roll and an icon of the youth culture celebrating freedom and a growing sense of rebellion.(5 words)
By the end of the decade, Kennedy had been assassinated, along with his brother Robert and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. America’s cities had become powder kegs as African-Americans, despite historic gains toward legal equality, became more impatient than ever at being second-class citizens. Women began demanding their rights in unprecedented numbers. Young people and their parents felt a widening generation gap as seen in their differing perceptions of patriotism, drug use, sexuality, and the work ethic. The now familiar culture wars between liberals and conservatives caused angry divisions over law and order, busing, racial preferences, abortion, the Vietnam War, and America’s use of military force abroad. Republican Sen. Barry Goldwater of Arizona lost the 1964 presidential election to Democratic liberal Lyndon Johnson, but his campaign sowed the seeds of a new conservatism that eventually brought Ronald Reagan to power in 1980. (4words)
” ‘The Sixties,’ for conservatives, were an explosion of puerile irresponsibility and fashionable rebellion, the wellspring of today’s ubiquitous identity politics, debased high culture, sexual permissiveness, and censorious political correctness,” says social policy essayist Bruce Bawer. “For liberals, the period was a desperately needed corrective that drew attention to America’s injustices and started us down the road toward greater fairness and equality for all.” (2 words).
Adding to the pervasive sense of change were a host of technological breakthroughs. The United States and the Soviet Union began exploring the solar system with rockets and satellites. The Soviets sent the first man into space, in 1961, accelerating a “space race” between the superpowers that reached its apex when, on July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 landed on the moon. U.S. astronaut Neil Armstrong stepped onto the lunar surface and said, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” (2 words)
By the end of the decade, television had gone from a novelty to the dominant medium of the age and one of the most profound communications tools ever. In 1961, the laser was perfected. In 1965, the Houston Astrodome, the world’s first roofed stadium, was built. In 1967, the first heart transplant was performed by Christiaan Barnard in Cape Town, South Africa, opening up remarkable new vistas in medicine. Also in 1967, the first hand-held calculator was invented by Texas Instruments, at a cost of $2,500 each. (2 words)
In social terms, the number of college students doubled between 1940 and 1960 to 3.6 million, creating a huge pool of high-minded if sometimes misguided activists with the motivation and time to devote to political and social causes. Society moved ever more rapidly from the industrial age to an economy dominated by service and white-collar work, creating more dislocation and a profound sense of disorientation. The environmental movement was born. A key factor was the 1962 publication of Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring, which warned that many forms of life on Earth would die because of pollution and lethal chemicals released by human beings and their industries. (3 words)
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