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Fire in the Streets

The Social Crisis of the 1960s

Joel M. Sipress, Series Editors: Joel M. Sipress, and David J. Voelker

Publication Date - 24 July 2020

ISBN: 9780197519172

192 pages
7 1/2 x 9 1/4 inches

In Stock

Encourage your students to participate in a contested, evidence-based discourse about the human past


Embracing an argument-based model for teaching history, the Debating American History series encourages students to participate in a contested, evidence-based discourse about the human past. Each book poses a question that historians debate--How democratic is the U.S. Constitution? or Why did civil war erupt in the United States in 1861?--and provides abundant primary sources so that students can make their own efforts at interpreting the evidence. They can then use that analysis to construct answers to the big question that frames the debate and argue in support of their position.

Fire in the Streets poses this big question: Why did the United States enter a period of social and political turmoil in a time of unprecedented economic prosperity?


  • Organized around a big question about which historians themselves disagree: Why did the United States enter a period of social and political turmoil in a time of unprecedented economic prosperity?
  • Exposes students to rival positions about which they must make informed judgments
  • Asks students to judge the relative merits of rival positions on the basis of historical evidence
  • Requires students to develop their own positions, for which they must argue on the basis of historical evidence
  • Offers an alternative to the "coverage model" that has dominated History classrooms since the late nineteenth century, and which has consistently fallen short of its own goals since its inception
  • Concise and flexible format allows for inclusion in a variety of classroom settings
  • Each title in the series is edited by Joel M. Sipress and David J. Voelker, award-winning teachers who have published and lectured extensively on reform in the teaching of History
  • Included with the purchase of all new copies, the ebook offers short video clips, flashcards, animated maps, interactive timelines, and additional primary sources

About the Author(s)

Joel M. Sipress received his PhD in US History from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is a Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Superior, where he teaches US and Latin American History. He serves as coeditor of the Debating American History series with David J. Voelker.


"This is a very interesting book that captures the overall mood and feeling of the era. I really like the Big Question. It is interesting, provocative, and timely."-- Michael Holm, Boston University

"All of us who teach the 1960s know that it can be difficult to explain to our students why so many privileged young white people radically rejected the status quo of the era. Basing the analysis of the different movements of the period around this question--and tying it back to the consensus liberalism of the decade--is an effective organizing strategy."--Matthew Tribbe, Fullerton College

Table of Contents

    List of Figures and Tables
    About the Author
    Series Introduction

    The Big Question


    Historian's Conversations

    Position #1: The 1960s and the Struggle for Equality
    Position #2: The Destructive Generation of the 1960s
    Position #3: The Dangers of Illusion: The Unravelling of the Postwar Consensus

    Debating the Question
    Economic Data from the Postwar Boom
    Postwar American Liberalism

    1.1 John F. Kennedy, "Presidential Inaugural Address" and "Message to Congress" (1961)
    1.2 Lyndon B. Johnson, The "Great Society" Speech (1964)

    The Racial Crisis of the 1960s
    2.1 Racial Disparities in Postwar America
    2.2 Anne Moody, Excerpt from Coming of Age in Mississippi (1968)
    2.3 Recollections of the Montgomery Bus Boycott (1977)
    2.4 Residential Segregation in Chicago (1950)
    2.5 The Black Panther Party, "What We Want, What We Believe" (1966)
    2.6 Huey P. Newton, Excerpts from Revolutionary Suicide (1973)
    2.7 "Strike Demands of the Black Student Union and Third World Liberation Front," San Francisco State College (1969)
    2.8 Excerpts from the Report of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders (1968)

    The Youth Rebellion
    3.1 Statements from the New Left (1962-69)
    3.2 Mark Rudd, Excerpts from Underground: My Life with SDS and the Weatherman (2009)
    3.3 Jefferson Airplane--An Example of the Counterculture

    The Experience of Vietnam
    5.1 Letters and Recollections from Vietnam (1967-1970)

    The Women's Movement
    6.1 Women in the Workforce
    6.2 Betty Friedan, "The Problem That Has No Name," from The Feminine Mystique (1962)
    6.3 "National Organization for Women Bill of Rights" (1967)
    6.4 "Redstockings Manifesto" (1969)

    The Gay and Lesbian Movement
    7.1 Barbara Gittings Comes of Age (1972)
    7.2 Mark Segal, Excerpt from And Then I Danced: Traveling the Road to LGBT Equality (2015)
    7.3 Homophile Freedom Song (1966)
    7.4 Dick Leitsch, "The Hairpin Drop Heard Around the World" (1969)
    7.5 Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt, "1969 Mother Stonewall and the Golden Rats" (1989)

    The Conservative Backlash
    8.1 White Attitudes on Issues of Race
    8.2 American Attitudes Toward Social Disorder
    8.3 Richard Rogin, "Joe Kelly Has Reached His Boiling Point" (1970)
    8.4 Spiro Agnew Quips

    Additional Resources

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