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The Fifties and Sixties

These tasks are based on the text The Fifties and the Sixties

Anti-Communism – McCarthyism:

Senator Joseph McCarthy is most famous for lending his name to a period of American history called the McCarthy era. In this period there was an anti-communist initiative, designed to remove from power anyone who allegedly did not have the best interests of America in mind. "Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Communist Party?" was the catchphrase of the House Un-American Activities Committee.

Watch the video and answer the questions below.

Questions for the video:

  1. What is McCarthyism?
  2. Which accusations were made?
  3. Who was likely to be accused?
  4. Could similar unfounded accusations be made today?
  5. Do you think that such an era will return?
  6. Why would many members of ethnic, religious and social minorities be worried?


Pick one of the tasks.

  1. Look up a couple of the victims of McCarthyism and make a presentation where you tell the class about who they were and how their lives changed after McCarthy’s allegations. How McCarthyism Worked – Hollywood
  2. Write an essay where you present McCarthyism.

The Vietnam War:

Pick one of the tasks as a starting point to find out more about the Vietnam War.

  1. For close to thirty years, American foreign policy was shaped by the Truman Doctrine. Find out more about the Doctrine and what it has to do with the American involvement in the Vietnam War. Why was the war called "endless?"How is the war viewed by Americans today? Why has it become a benchmark in American history? Write an essay addressing these questions.
  2. The Vietnam War was one of the most divisive wars in history and the subject of innumerable protest marches and songs both nationally and internationally. Many American families had lost family members in this war, and even more people had lost dear friends. These people needed a memorial to honor their lost loved ones. “The Wall”, which was completed in 1984, lists the names of all the casualties of the war. It is packed with symbolism; which includes the divisive effect of the war in American society. Look at the following websites and make a list of the symbolism of the wall: Vietnam Veterans Memorial, The Wall USA.
  3. The 1960s was a decade of both devastating and great events; a decade of change. This is reflected in a lot of the music of the decade. Listen to some of the music of Bob Dylan, Buffy St. Marie, Tom Lehrer, Peter, Paul and Mary, Barry McGuire, Joan Baez – or find another protest singer/group. Give a talk on one of these singers/groups and what their music was about. Include examples of their music.
  4. Select a film (or two for comparison) about the Vietnam War and present your choice to your teacher for approval. View the film and consider how it portrays the war and the soldiers who fought in it. Does it appear to support U.S. involvement in the war, or not? Are American soldiers presented as heroes, as victims, or in some other way? Write an essay using the film/films to comment on the different views of the war.

Civil Rights Movement:

Watch the video below, then pick one of the tasks to answer.

  1. Rosa Parks is called the mother of the Civil Rights Movement. On December 1, 1955, in Montgomery, Alabama, she refused to give up her bus seat to make room for a white passenger. She was arrested and convicted by a local court, and thus was the spark that started the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Make a digital presentation of Rosa Parks, the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the Civil Rights Movement.
  2. Martin Luther King became the front figure in the fight for equality and civil rights for the black people of the southern states in the USA and led the Montgomery Bus Boycott. He preached non-violent resistance and in 1963 he led nearly 250,000 people in a peaceful protest march on Washington D.C. At the Lincoln Memorial he held his famous "I Have a Dream" speech. Listen to his speech and analyze his oratory skills (See " Yes, We Can!" about Rhetorical analysis). Write an analysis of his speech or an essay about him as a freedom fighter.

Martin Luther King Speech

The Hippie Movement:

Watch this video showing a brief outline of the American hippies and their importance when it comes to the cultural changes throughout the 1960s. Then pick one of the tasks below.

  1. To what extent had the Hippie Movement an impact on American Society? Consider social, cultural and environmental aspects and write an essay. Call your essay, "The Legacy of the Hippie Movement."
  2. Make a visual presentation called "The Legacy of the Hippie Movement."

Make a Magazine:

Make a digital magazine featuring major events in this period. Make sure to include articles on issues such as suburban America and the protestant work ethic. The journal also needs an editoral, comments from eye-witnesses as well as comments made in retrospect.

Sist oppdatert 23.03.2021
Skrevet av Åse Elin Langeland og Karin Dwyer Løken


US History