Fidel Castro
Cuban revolutionary who overthrew Batista dictatorship in 1958 and assumed control of the island country. His connections with the Soviet Union led to a cessation of diplomatic relations with the United States in such internationl affairs as the Bay of Pigs invasion and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Oversaw his country through the end of the Cold War and through nearly a half-century of trade embargo with the US
John Foster Dulles
American politican principally known for serving as Eisenhower’s Secretary of State; drafted the “policy of boldness” designed to confront Soviet aagression with the threat of “massive retaliation” via thermonuclear weapons
Dwight D. (Ike) Eisenhower
Supreme Commander of the US Forces in Europe during World War II; became president and during his two terms presided over the conomically prosperous 1950s. He was praised for his dignity and decency, though critcized for not being more assertive on civil rights
Betty Friedan
feminist author of “The Feminie Mystique” in 1960. Her book sparked a new consciousness among suburban women and helped launch the second-wave feminist movement
Ho Chi Minh
Vietnamese revolutionary nationalist leader, he organized Vietnamese opposition to foreign occupation, first against the Japanese and then the French; became leader of North Vietnam. He led the war to unify the country in the face of increased military opposition from the United States
Lyndon B. Johnson
President of the United States who rose to tremendous power in the Senate during the New Deal. Tapped to be JFK’s running mate in 1960 and was chosen largely to help solidfy support for the Democratic ticket in the anti-Catholic south, he assumed the presidency after Kennedy’s assination in 1963. Was responsible for liberal programs such as the Great Society, War on Poverty, and civil rights legislation, as well as the escalation of the Vietnam war
John F. Kennedy
President of the United States who narrowly defeated the incumbent vice-president Nixon in 1960 to become the youngest person ever elected president. Launched New Frontier programs and urged legislation to improve civil rights; assumed the blame for the Bay of Pigs ivasion and was credited as well for the superb handling of the Cuban Missile Crisis. He was assasinated in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963, by Lee Harvey Oswald
Nikita Khrushchev
Premier of the Soviet Union from 1958-1964, he was a communist party offical who emerge from the power struggle after Stalin’s death in 1953 to lead the USSR. He crushed a pro-Western uprising of Hngary in 1956, and, in 1958, issued an ultimatum for Western evacuation of Berline. Defended Soviet-style economic planning in the Kitchen Debate with Richard Nixon in 1959 and attempted to send missiles to Cuba in 1962 but backed down when comfronted by JFK
Martin Luther King Jr.
civil rights leader and Baptist preacher who rose to prominence with the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955 and founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1957. He was an outspoken advocate for black rights throughout the 1960s, most famously during the 1963 March on Washington where he delivered the “I Have a Dream Speech.” He was assasinated in Memphis in 1968 while supporting a sanitation workers’ strike
Joseph McCarthy
Senator from Wisconsin who rose to infamy by accusing the State Department of employing communists, he conducted high-profile red-baiting hearings that damanged countless careers before he finally over-reached in 1954 when he went after the US Army. After that he was censured by Senate and died of alcoholism shortly thereafter
Gamal Abdel Nasser
President of Egypt from 1956-1970, was known for his pan-Arab nationalism and opposition to colonialism, specifically in his decision to nationalize the Suez Canal in 1956. Although his reputation was somewhat tarnished by his country’s military failure against Israel in the 6 Days War of 1967, he reamined a popular leader in Egypt and throughout the Arab world
Richard Nixon
President of the United States from 1969-1974, he rose to national prominence as a “communist hutner” and member of HUAC in the 1950s. He was vice president under Eisenhower from 1953-1961 and defended American capitalism in the 1959 Kitchen Debate with Khrushchev. He ran unsuccessfully for president against JFK in 1960 but was elected in 1968, resigning amid the Watergate scandal in 1974
Rosa Parks
NAACP leader in Montgomery, Alabama, who inaugurate the city’s famous bus boycott in 1955 by refusing to give up her seat on a public bus to a white passenger. She became a leading symbol of the spirit of the Civil Rights Movement and the cause of racial equality throughout her long life
Elvis Presley
Memphis-born singer whose youth, voice, and sex appeal helped popularize rock ‘n’ roll in the mid-1950s. Commonly known using only his first name, he was an icon of popular culture, in both music and film
Earl Warren
Liberal Californian politician appointed Chief Justice the Supreme Court by Eisenhowerin 1953, he was principally known for moving the Court to the left in defense of civil and individual rights in such cases as Brown v. Board of Education (1954), Griswold v. Connecticut (1965), and Miranda v. Arizona (1966)
Army-McCarthy Hearings (1954)
Congressional hearings called by Senator McCarthy to accuse members of the army of communist ties. In this widely televised spectacle, McCarthy finally went too far for public approval. The hearings exposed the Senator’s extremeism and led to his eventual disgrace
Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas (1954)
landmark Superme Court decision that overturned Plessy v. Ferguson and abolished racial segregation in public schools. This decision was the first major step toward the legal end of racial discrimination and a major accomplishment for the Civil Rights Movement
Checkers Speech (1952)
nationally televised address by vice-presidential candidate Richard Nixon. Using the new mass medium of telvision shortly before the 1952 election, the vice presidental candidate saved his place on the ticked by defending himself against accusations of corruption
Battle of Dien Bien Phu (1954)
military engagement in French colonial Vietnam in which French forces were defeated by Viet Minh nationalists loyal to Ho Chi Minh. With this loss, the French ended their colonial involvement in Indochina, paving the way for American’s entry
Federal Highway Act of 1956
federal legislation signed by Eisenhower to construct thousands of miles of modern highways in the name of national defense. Offically called the National Interstate and Defense of Highways Act, this bill dramatically increased the move to the suburbs, as white middle-class people could more easily commute to urban jobs
The Feminie Mystique (1963)
best-selling book by feminist thinker Betty Friedan, this work challenged women to move beyond the drudgery of suburban housewifery and helped launch what would soon become second-wave feminism
Hungarian uprising (1956)
series of demonstrations in Hungray against the Soviet Union in which Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev violently suppressed this pro-Western uprising, highlighting the limitations of American’s power in Eastern Europe
Jim Crow
system of racial segregation in the American South from the end of Reconstruction until mid-twentieth century. Based on the concept of “separate but equal” facilities for blacks and whites, it sought to prevent racial mixing in public, including restaraunts, movie theatres, and public transportation. An informal system, it was generally perpetuated by custom, violence, and intimidation
Kitchen Debate (1959)
telvised exchanged in 1959 between Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev and American Vice President Richard Nixon; meeting at the American National Exhibition in Moscow, the two leaders sparred over the relative merits of capitalist consumer culture versus Soviet state planning. Nixon won appluause for his stanch defense of American capitalism, helping lead him to the Republican nomination for president in 1960
a brand of vitriolic, fear-mongering anti-communism associated with the career of Senator Joseph McCarthy. In the early 1950s, he used his position in Congress to baselessly accuse high-ranking government officals and other Americans of conspiracy with communism. The term named after him refers to the dangerous forces of unfairness and fear wrought by anticommunist paranoia
Montgomery bus boycott (1955)
a protest sparked by Rosa Park’s defiant refusal to move to the back of the bus of black Alabamians against segregated seating on city buses. It lasted from December 1, 1955 until December 26, 1956, and became one of the foundational moments of the Civil Rights Movements. It led to the rise of Martin Luther King Jr., and ultimately to a Supreme Court decision opposing segregated busing
Operation Wetback (1954)
a government program to roudup and deport as many as one million illegal Mexican migrant workers in the United States. The program was promoted in part by the Mexican government and reflected burgeoning concerns about non-European immigration fo America
Operation of Petrroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)
Cartel compromising Middle Eastern states and Venezuela first organized in 1960, it aimed to control access to and prices of oil, wresting power from Western oil companies and investors. In the process, it gradually strengthened the hand of non-Western powers on the world stage
policy of boldness (1954)
foreign policy objective of Eisenhower’s Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, who believed in changing the containment strategy to one that more directly engaged the Soviet Union and attempted to roll back communist influence around the world; this policy led to a build-up of American’s nuclear arsenal to threaten “massive retaliation” against communist enemies, lauching the Cold War’s arm race
rock ‘n’ roll
“crossover” musical style that rose to dominance in the 1950s, merging rhythm and blues with white bluegrass and coutry; featuring a heavy beat and driving rhythm, rock ‘n’ roll music became a defining feature of 1950s youth culture
Sputnik (1957)
Soviet satellite first launched into Earth orbit on October 4, 1957, this scientific achievement marked the first time human beings had put a man-made object into orbit and pushed the USSR noticeably ahead of the United States in the Space Race
Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)
youth organization founded by southern black students in 1960 to promote civil rights. drawing on its members’ youthful energies, it helped coordinate demonstrations, sit-ins, and voter registration drives
Suez crisis (1956)
international crisis launched when Egyptian President Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal, which had been owned mostly by French and British stockholders. This crisis failed without aid from the United States and marked an important turning point in the post-colonial Middle East and highlighted the rising importance of oil in world affairs

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