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October 20, 2011* PBS Logo

Dear St. Gregory American Identities Class:

As you know, PBS is the leader in educational documentaries about United States History (among other things). Our award winning series "American Experience" has helped millions understand and appreciate this nation's complicated and glorious history. As we have watched democratic social movements erupt all over the world in the past year (Egypt, Syria to mention just two), we at PBS have decided that there has never been a more opportune time to begin programming on 1960s America -- as that decade and its protests and conflicts can teach great lessons for those embroiled in cultural, social, and political revolutions today. The 1960s, as you are aware, was a tumultuous one for the United States but a critical one in terms of beginning national conversations about democracy, systematic oppression, justice, and human rights. It was a painful decade during which many ordinary people came together to insist that America introspectively examine the well-being and identity of the nation based on the wellness of its citizens. Many different groups believed they knew what the most fundamental problem in America was, and they believed they knew the solutions that would rectify the most egregious violations of freedom and democracy in America. Of course, they couldn't all have been right. Was gender discrimination the most oppressive inhibition to democracy as the second wave feminists believed? Was racial discrimination? How about American involvement in Vietnam and the political corruption that seemed to come with it? Some, like the new left student movements and the counterculturalists, even believed that the most fundamental problem facing America was the entire dominant culture -- especially the culture of older Americans. By the end of the decade, however, some had come to believe that the social activists themselves were the largest threat to American democracy and rose to defend and conserve the social, political, and dominant cultural traditions of the United States through conservative politics.

The governing board of PBS would like to do an entire series on the 1960s. Unfortunately, because of the economic circumstances of the current day, donations and funding to our organization are down. We, therefore, must pick just one social movement to document. We would like you to create proposals (via websites) to us about which social movement we should choose. Please make the websites as intriguing as possible with as much information about the who, what, when, and how of the movements as possible. In particular, your proposals should explain to us why your particular social movement was the most important in the 60s and continues to be the most important in helping us to understand the world we are living in now. We will choose the proposal that is most impressive and that group will receive a BIG reward for their final exam.

In order to get a sense of the possibilities for this documentary, we will need for you to give us summary narrative of the social movement in relation to the other movements of the 60s, highlight for us examples of the participants in the social movements (everyone loves a controversial personality or a hero), show us the possibility for photos that might be available for inclusion in the documentary, ideas for supplemental materials (such as a podcast) and activities (please come up with 2) that we can offer high school educators, and a 3-5 minute video trailer of the documentary itself. You may see examples of all of these components on our website.

On April 19(or thereabouts), one of our representatives will attend your class in order to answer any questions you may have. Please be prepared on that day to ask clarifying questions -- it is the only opportunity you will have to ask PBS in person. Remember -- your task is "simple"...what social movement was most important to the 1960s because it addressed the "most important political and social dilemma/problem" of the United States in the 1960s.

In advance, thank you for your work on this project.

Sincerely,

Public Broadcasting Service*

* This is a fictional project for the American Identities course at St. Gregory College Prep school in Tucson, AZ. No representation of PBS is real. Logo above borrowed from: PBS.org.