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Assignment 6 - Essay Example

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This statement is all about social engineering, or “the attempt to shape social relations by political means, generally in the service of what is thought to be a higher…
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Assignment 6
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Social Engineering in the 1950s and the 1960s America The America that had woven itself together in the Fifties unraveled itself by the end of the Sixties. This statement is all about social engineering, or “the attempt to shape social relations by political means, generally in the service of what is thought to be a higher good” (Levin 652). In the United States, the concept and practice of social engineering centered around racial and gender equality. However, the first social engineering project began in the 1950s during Harry Truman’s administration. Truman integrated the armed forces after the Second World War, and he declared his war against the “racial caste system” employed by contractors against soldiers in the United States during that time (653). Truman’s EO 8991 in 1948, or the executive order that created the Civil Rights Commission, paved the way for the “weaving together” of America in the 1950s. It is this particular executive order that offered equal treatment to Blacks and the cutting off of the sale of products that perpetuate the latter’s vices (653). Although Truman’s EO 8991 has not accomplished as much as Kennedy’s and Johnson’s policies, it paved the way for the “unraveling” of America in the 1960s, where the races and genders have more or less equaled.
Fifteen years after Truman’s EO 8991, in 1963, certain changes in terms of social engineering activities have been implemented regarding racial and gender equality, particularly during the governance of Lyndon Johnson. One of which was the decision of the Department of Defense to prohibit soldiers from using segregated bus or rail facilities, thus whites and blacks could use transportation together (654). The greatest proof of “unraveling” of the United States in the 60s was the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964, and this “prohibited racial discrimination in employment, institutions like hospitals and schools…restaurants, hotels, and theaters” (?? 922). Moreover, in 1965, under the banner of “affirmative action” used by the Kennedy administration, Johnson reiterated his vision of racial equality (Levin 656). He defended Blacks in his speech and considered them equal to whites, and through EO 11246, he required all federal contractors to treat any employee without any regard to his “race, creed, color or national origin” (656). So far, Johnson’s greatest achievement in 1965 was the passage of the Voting Rights Act, which granted suffrage to the black southerners (?? 926).
In 1967, Johnson included gender equality by adding “sex” to the clause in EO 11246 (Levin 656). One of the greatest effects of this was that women began replacing men as breadwinners in families (657). Also in 1967, a jobs training program was set up by the National Alliance of Businessmen as an answer to the black riots in the same year (660). Johnson also desegregated elementary and secondary schools during that time so that both white and black children could study together (660). This is the “unraveling’ of the 60s, which was the direct long-term effects of the efforts of Truman in the 50s.
Martin Luther King Jr., although not a president, was also highly instrumental in the 60s in the “unraveling” of America’s racial freedom and equality. After his assassination in 1968, Johnson finally got Congress to pass the Fair Housing Act, thus real estate agents could not discriminate anymore against blacks buying houses or renting property (Anderson 5-6).
However, before and unlike Johnson, Kennedy seems to have only been pressured to act in favor of those racially discriminated. After a series of black riots and protests as well as assaults of the police against blacks during his presidency especially in Birmingham, Alabama, Kennedy decided to endorse the goals of the civil rights movement (?? 916). The country’s leading businessmen also did their share by helping to desegregate restaurants and downtown stores (917). Martin Luther King Jr. also did his best to advocate freedom and equality especially through his speech at the Lincoln Memorial during the March in Washington (918). Until his assassination in 1963, Kennedy was not able to see his civil rights bill enacted and had always been frustrated at the idea that America could not advocate freedom to the world because America still favored racial inequality during that time (921).
Despite the lost lives in the fight for racial and gender freedom and equality in the United States in the 50s and 60s, one could see that the efforts of Truman in the late 40s and early 50s in order to weave America into a country free of racial and gender discrimination eventually bore fruit and helped to “unravel” the country in the 60s. All these efforts were only made possible through the social engineering efforts of Truman, Kennedy, Johnson and King.

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Works Cited
??. “Chapter 25: The Sixties.” Reassessing the Presidency. New York: Prentice Hall, 2008. Print.
Anderson, Terry H. “1968: The End and the Beginning in the United States and Western Europe.” South Central Review 16 (4)-17 (1) :1-15. (Winter, 1999-Spring, 2000). The Johns Hopkins University Press. Print.
Levin, Michael. “The President as Social Engineer.” Reassessing the Presidency. New York: Prentice Hall, 2008. Print. Read More
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