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Chapter 11 Vietnam and Civil Disobedience, 1963–1969
The middle and late 1960s were years of progress, protest, prejudice, and renewed hope for peace and racial justice. John F. Kennedy was assassinated, as were Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., and Robert Kennedy. The postwar economic boom continued throughout most of the decade. It was accompanied by heightened fears about the possible growth of Communism abroad and escalating protests at home. The United States had grown accustomed to interpreting the events at home and around the world in terms of the Cold War. In addition, US officials were growing increasingly frustrated with the persistence of Communist forces in Vietnam in the face of military escalation. A growing number of Americans were likewise frustrated by the persistence of poverty and racial injustice. They pressed the federal government to approve meaningful laws and programs that would fulfill the promise of justice and material security. Modern feminism emerged as a force for change, along with the American Indian Movement and activism by other minority groups. Promising a Great Society, President Lyndon Johnson hoped to respond to these demands and promote greater freedom through government. In response, a growing conservative movement revived longstanding traditions that viewed the growth of the federal government as the greatest threat to liberty.