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1 January 1950 – 31 December 1959
The 1950s were a decade marked by the post-World War II recovery, the rise of the Cold War and the Civil Rights movement in the United States. The period also saw great population growth with increased birth rates. The beginning of decolonization in Africa and Asia also took place in this decade. The United States became the world’s strongest military power with very strong economy.
About 4 million babies were born each year during the 1950s. When the boom ended in 1964, there were almost 77 million “baby boomers.”
The ideological clash between communism and capitalism dominated the decade. The major conflicts of the decade included: the Korean War, the Cuban Revolution, the beginning of the Vietnam War in French Indochina, and the beginning of the Space Race with the launch of Sputnik 1 in 1957.
During the 1950s the struggle against racism and segregation entered the mainstream of American life. A growing group of Americans spoke out against inequality and injustice. In December 1955, Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give her seat on a city bus to a white person. Her arrest sparked a 13-month boycott of the city’s buses by black citizens.
The 1950s saw the emergence of Rock ‘n’ Roll with Sam Cooke, Elvis Presley, Jackie Wilson, Gene Vincent and Chuck Berry. In the 1950s, television became a major form of popular entertainment. By 1955, half of all American homes had a television.
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