Episode from the podcastFrom Boomers to Millennials: A Modern US History Podcast

Episode 12 - 1957: The Blessings of the Cold War?

Released Saturday, 16th January 2021
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After a brief reflection on troubling recent events in the USA, this episode looks back at a seemingly simpler time - Dwight D. Eisenhower's second term as President. By the late 1950s, Cold War pressures led the US government to build major defense & infrastructure projects, to invest heavily in education & scientific research, & to undertake modest steps in the direction of greater racial equality.  The Interstate Highway Act of 1956 was a public works program that created jobs & democratized interstate travel, while displacing some unfortunate urban residents. The USSR's launch of the Sputnik satellites in 1957 led the US to invest in science via the National Defense Education Act (NDEA), & motivated the creation of the National Aeronautics & Space Administration (NASA). New defense spending spurred further southwestern migration, & this population shift enabled the Dodgers & Giants franchises of Major League Baseball to relocate to the West Coast. In 1957, a new civil rights act passed the United States Senate for the first time in nearly a century. However, the biggest racial justice milestone of the year occurred in Little Rock, Arkansas, where 9 black students courageously faced down jeering protesters & bullying classmates to integrate Central High School. Arkansas's segregationist governor, Orval Faubus, tried to prevent the Little Rock 9 from attending their classes, but when a reluctant President Eisenhower finally decided to send in federal troops to protect these African-American students, racist politicians & vigilantes backed off of their most blatant intimidation tactics.

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