U.S. History

Two Days in June: JFK and the 48 Hours That Made History

In his book, Two Days in June: John F. Kennedy and the 48 Hours that Made History, author Andrew Cohen makes a case for the power of words and ideas. He provides an intimate portrait of two days and two remarkable speeches that set the stage for historic policy breakthroughs. He also comments on the election of Justin Trudeau, who some are comparing to JFK. That’s the focus of this edition of  Wilson Center NOW.

 

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Speaking Freely: Whitney v. California and American Speech Law

The United States has the world’s most permissive speech laws. That wasn’t always true, however, and leading constitutional scholar Philippa Strum explains how and why it happened. The story involves both a radical descendent of Mayflower Pilgrims named Anita Whitney and Supreme Court Justice Louis Dembitz Brandeis. Strum also explores the question of whether such a liberal approach to speech is the right policy in today’s world, given cyberbullying, terrorist recruitment on the Internet, sexting, and the absence of gatekeepers in the world of the Web.

Kerry in Cuba: Can Relations Become “Normal”?

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will take an historic trip to Havana, Cuba on August 14th to raise the stars and stripes at the U.S. embassy for the first time in over 50 years. He will be the first Secretary of State to travel there in 70 years. His visit brings to a close the first stage of diplomatic normalization with Cuba that began last December when Presidents Obama and Castro announced their intentions to do so.

Seeking Historical Reconciliation: The U.S. Role in Fostering Relations Between Japan and South Korea

Democratic ideals and cultural exchanges among nations have been seen as effective tools to encourage reconciliation between former adversaries. But that seemingly has not been the case in relations between Japan and South Korea, even if democratic values are shared. Wilson Center Fellow and Waseda University professor Toyomi Asano notes that it is important to share memories of the United States-led process of decolonization after the Japanese Empire’s defeat.

The Reagan Era: From a "New Cold War" to the "Washington Consensus"

During the decade of the 1980s, the foreign relations of the United States traced a surprising path from what many called a “new Cold War” with the Soviet Union to the ascendancy, by 1990, of the so-called “Washington Consensus” that governed global economics in the name of free trade and investment.

To Make Men Free: A History of the Republican Party

How did the Republican Party—the progressive party of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and Dwight D. Eisenhower—become the reactionary party of today? Over the one hundred and sixty years of their history, Republicans have swung repeatedly from championing the middle class to protecting the rich. Their story reveals the tensions inherent in America’s peculiar brand of government: how can a democracy promote individual economic opportunity at the same time it protects property? 

African American History Month Special Edition: The Civil Rights Movement in the Shadow of MLK

We spoke with one of the nation’s leading scholars on the American civil rights movement to learn about the immediate impact that the death of Martin Luther King, Jr. had on the struggle for freedom. We also discuss MLK’s legacy and its meaning in 2015. David Chappell is a professor at the University of Oklahoma and the author of, “Waking From the Dream: The Struggle for Civil Rights in the Shadow of Martin Luther King, Jr.” That’s the topic for this edition of CONTEXT.

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