Essay Questions: The 1960s
These were Mr. Davey’s final examination questions for his college courses in the 1960s. The following questions were to be answered in a three-page take home examination. For this class one of the following questions will appear on your 1960s test at the conclusion of the unit. Keep these questions in mind as you read and take lecture and movie notes during the unit.
What assumption about the world, about communism, and about American politics led Kennedy and LBJ into the Vietnam conflict? Why couldn’t Johnson, in the mid-1960s, prevent an increasing American commitment to the war? What went wrong and why?
What was the impact of John and Robert Kennedy on the 1960s and on the decades after their deaths? How should they be remembered?
In what ways was 1968 a turning point in the decade of the 1960s?
Assess the character issue in politics in the 1960s. Compare the public and private personae of JFK, LBJ, and RMN. What does this tell us today about the American politics and American journalism and the American voter in that decade?
The huge Democratic majority of 1964 was reversed in 1968, despite the successes of LBJ in getting his Great Society and his War on Poverty programs passed. What went wrong?
Why did the civil rights movement change from a movement centering on civil disobedience and passive resistance to one embracing defiance and active self-defense of blacks? In other words, what went awry in the civil rights movement after 1963 and the March on Washington?
How was the role of women in America revolutionized or changed during the 1960s? Who was most responsible for this change?
Why was the civil rights movement successful in the 1960s? What were the most important legacies of that movement?
Who do you consider to be the three Americans most important in bringing about positive changes in America in the 1960s? Explain your decision.
What is the lasting legacy of the peace movement and the counterculture of the 1960s? Do you believe that, by the 1990s, their legacy was positive, mixed, or negative?
How was the War on Poverty a success in America in the 1960s? Where did LBJ go wrong in the planning and in the execution of that program?
Assess the career of LBJ. How should he be remembered today? Was he a largely positive or negative force in the American life, from the perspective of the 1990s?
How should we remember the 1960s? Was that decade really an Age of Great Dreams or would you describe it better and more accurately in another phrase? Explain.
What role did the Cold War play in the American life in the 1960s? How did the counterculture and the peace movement provide a realistic alternative to the bipartisan attitudes towards the Soviet Union and Communism?
Analyze the presidency of Richard M. Nixon. Did his positive contributions outweigh his deceit in Watergate and the illegal bombings in Laos and Cambodia?
Examine the actions of the Warren Court. Was the court a product of the times or did it lead and shape policies? Was Earl Warren as important as the presidents in the 1960s? Why or why not?
Examine the Student Movements at Berkeley in the 1960s. Was it a heroic struggle to bring out civil rights and freedoms to America or just a “civil rights raid?” (Be sure to examine People’s Park in the context of the movement.)