Often, historians will speak if watershed moments in history. Watershed moments are critical turning points that signal a significant or permanent change of historical fortunes. Throughout history, there have been significant moments and events that have had a lasting effect on how the society is today. Events such as the Declaration of Independence, the American Civil War, World War I, The Great Depression, World War II, and more recent events such as the 9/11 attacks are some of the events that have shaped world’s history. Usually, there is a perception that it is events that involve conflict shape the world’s history. However, there are many other events that shape the world’s history. In the period between 1960 and 1980, there were a number of watershed moments. This period can be described as the decades of change that was also characterized by significant global social, economical, political and military events.
First, it was in the mid and late 1960s that the Civil Rights Movement made significant gains. It was the period during which Congress passed 1964’s Civil Rights Act and 1965’s Voting Rights Act. These two Acts were significant in increasing the African Americans’ political power. The former outlawed any form of discrimination in all public accommodations while the latter required the federal government to conduct voter registration in areas where African Americans were not allowed to do so. The result was that about one million African Americans in the Deep South became registered (U.S. Department of State 277). Throughout the country, the number of elected officials who were African American significantly rose, and by 1968, a ban on discrimination in housing was passed by the Congress. The results of this major event can be witnessed today, with the United States having its first black President, the 44th president, President Barack Obama.
Another significant watershed moment, especially in Asian-American history, is the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965. This Act reversed several years of systematic exclusion and immigration policies that were restrictive, and led to unparalleled numbers of immigrants from Asia, Latin America, Mexico, and other nations entering the United States (Le 1). As a result, the new arrivals transformed and continue to transform the economic, cultural and demographic characteristics of several urban areas and the mainstream American society. Some of the current events shaped by this event include the Immigration Reform Bill which is backed by the President.
Despite these events of change, there were other significant moments, some tense and others harsh. The year 1962 saw the then American President J.F. Kennedy face the Cuban Missile Crisis, an event described as the most serious in the course of the Cold War. It was in the fall of this year that the US government learnt of secret installation of offensive nuclear missiles by the Soviet Union in Cuba (Department of State 283). A blockade was ordered by President Kennedy, and after days of tension, a deal was reached that saw the Soviet Union pull out of Cuba. According to (), the Cuban Missile Crisis was a turning point in relations between the US and the Soviet Union. In 1963, Great Britain, the Soviet Union and the US signed a treaty that prohibited the testing of nuclear weapons in the atmosphere. However, despite coming out of the crisis as a great leader, President JFK was assassinated in November 1963 as he was visiting Dallas. Another significant event was the 1973 Arab Oil Embargo, whereby Arab nations that produced oil slapped an oil embargo on the US following its backing of Israel during the Yom Kippur War (Hakes 1). This event was significant in the energy history of the US, with the country seeking to ensure energy independence and to reduce dependence on foreign oil.
A number of events were significant in the history of both the United States and the world at large. The period between 1960 and 1980 was quite eventful and it saw the occurrence of many historical events which continue to impact the world today. Some events were tense, others were saddening, others life changing, and others were important learning points. The period was characterized by a mixture of events that are responsible for the relative calm and peace enjoyed in the 1980s. Therefore, the period between 1960 and 1980 represented decades of change and transformation.
Hakes, Jay. 35 Years After the Arab Oil Embargo. Journal or Energy Security, 06 Oct. 2008. Web. 07 May 2013.
Le, C.N. The New Wave of Asian Migration. Asian-Nation, 17 Dec. 2005. Web. 07 May 2013.
U.S. Department of State. Outline of U.S. History. Washington, D.C: U.S. Department of State, 2005.