Cuban ConfrontationsIn 1961, President Kennedy extended the American hand of friendship to Latin America with the Alliance for Progress, called the Marshall Plan for Latin America. A primary goal was to help the Latin American countries close the gap between the rich and the poor, and thus quiet communist agitation. Results were disappointing as America had few positive impacts on Latin America's immense social problems. On April 17, 1961, 1,200 exiles landed at Cuba's Bay of Pigs. President Kennedy was against the direct intervention of the overthrow of Fidel Castro in Cuba, failing to provide air support for the exiles. The invasion therefore failed as the exiles were forced to surrender. The Bay of Pigs blunder pushed the Cuban leader further into the Soviet embrace. In October 1962, it was discovered that the Soviets were secretly installing nuclear missiles in Cuba. Kennedy rejected air force proposals for a bombing strike against the missile sites. Instead, on October 22, 1962, he ordered a naval "quarantine" of Cuba and demanded immediate removal of the weapons. For a week, Americans waited while Soviet ships approached the patrol line established by the U.S. Navy off the island of Cuba. On October 28, Khrushchev agreed to a compromise in which he would pull the missiles out of Cuba. The American government also agreed to end the quarantine and not invade the island. In late 1963, a pact prohibiting trial nuclear explosions in the atmosphere was signed. In June 1963, President Kennedy gave a speech at American University, Washington, D.C. encouraging Americans to abandon the negative views of the Soviet Union. He tried to lay the foundations for a realistic policy of peaceful coexistence with the Soviet Union. The Struggle for Civil RightsDuring his campaign, JFK had gained the black vote by stating that he would pass civil rights legislation. In 1960, groups of Freedom Riders spread out across the South to end segregation in facilities serving interstate bus passengers. A white mob torched a Freedom Ride bus near Anniston, Alabama in May 1961. When southern officials proved unwilling to stop the violence, federal marshals were dispatched to protect the freedom riders. For the most part, the Kennedy family and the King family (Martin Luther King, Jr.) had a good relationship. SNCC and other civil rights groups inaugurated a Voter Education Project to register the South's historically disfranchised blacks. In the spring of 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. launched a campaign against discrimination in Birmingham, Alabama, the most segregated big city in America. Civil rights marchers were repelled by police with attack dogs and high-pressure water hoses. In shock, President Kennedy delivered a speech to the nation on June 11, 1963 in which he dedicated himself to finding a solution to the racial problems. In August 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. led 200,000 black and white demonstrators on a peaceful "March on Washington" in support of the proposed new civil rights legislation. The Killing of KennedyOn November 22, 1963, President Kennedy was shot and killed as he was riding in an open limousine in Dallas, Texas. The alleged gunman was Lee Harvey Oswald. Oswald was shot and killed by self-appointed avenger, Jack Ruby. Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn into office, retaining most of Kennedy's cabinet. Kennedy was acclaimed more for the ideals he had spoken and the spirit he had kindled for the goals he had achieved. The LBJ Brand on the PresidencyAfter prodding from President Johnson, Congress passed the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, banning racial discrimination in most private facilities open to the public. It strengthened the federal government's power to end segregation in schools and other public places. It also created the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to eliminate discrimination in hiring. Part of the act's Title VII passed with sexual clause ensuring some special attention for women. In 1965, President Johnson issued an executive order requiring all federal contractors to take "affirmative action" against discrimination. Johnson added proposals of his own to Kennedy's stalled tax bill to allow for a billion-dollar "War on Poverty." He dubbed his domestic program the "Great Society" - a sweeping set of New Dealish economic and welfare measures aimed at transforming the American way of life. Johnson Battles Goldwater in 1964The Democrats nominated Lyndon Johnson to run for president for the election of 1964. The Republicans chose Senator Barry Goldwater. Goldwater attacked the federal income tax, the Social Security System, the Tennessee Valley Authority, civil rights legislation, the nuclear test-ban treaty, and the Great Society. In August 1964 in the Gulf of Tonkin, U.S. Navy ships had been cooperating with the South Vietnamese in raids along the coast of North Vietnam. On August 2th and August 4th, two U.S. ships were allegedly fired upon. Johnson called the attack "unprovoked" and moved to make political gains out of the incident. He ordered a "limited" retaliatory air raid against the North Vietnamese bases. He also used the event to spur congressional passage of the Tonkin Gulf Resolution; lawmakers virtually gave up their war-declaring powers and handed the president a blank check to use further force in Southeast Asia. Lyndon Johnson overwhelmingly won the election of 1964. The Great Society CongressCongress passed a flood of legislation, comparable to output of the Hundred Days Congress. Escalating the War on Poverty, Congress doubled the funding of the Office of Economic Opportunity to $2 billion. Congress also created two new cabinet offices: the Department of Transportation and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities was designed to lift the level of American cultural life. The Big Four legislative achievements that crowned LBJ's Great Society program were: aid to education, medical care for the elderly and poor, immigration reform, and a new voting rights bill. Johnson gave educational aid to students, not schools, avoiding the issue of separation of church and state. In 1965 came Medicare for the elderly and Medicaid for the poor. The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 abolished the quota system that had been in place since 1921. It also doubled the number of immigrants allowed to enter the country annually. The sources of immigration shifted from Europe to Latin American and Asia. Conservatives charged
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