From Boomers to Millennials: A Modern US History Podcast

Logan Rogers

A modern U.S. history podcast about the events that spanned the Baby Boomer generation’s lifespan & that are still relevant to people today, especially to Millennials. Unlike some history podcasts, this podcast follows the national story in a chronological manner, starting in 1946. Most episodes are around a half-hour to 45 minutes in length. Each episode covers one year, possibly going all the way up to the present. You can e-mail the show here, we would love your feedback!: boomertomillennial @t outlook.com read less

Episode 18A - Hannah Arendt: 10-Minute Profile
Mar 2 2023
Episode 18A - Hannah Arendt: 10-Minute Profile
This episode examines the first 10-minute profile subject who was born outside of the United States. Hannah Arendt was born to a secular Jewish middle-class family in Germany, and as a young woman she was an academic prodigy. She entered university to study philosophy, and engaged in an affair with a famous professor, Martin Heidegger. By the late 20s, Arendt broke up with Heidegger and completed her academic studies. During the early 30s, the Nazis came to power in Germany, and Prof. Heidegger joined the party. Arendt wrote critical articles about the Nazi regime and was jailed for a brief time by the new government that did not tolerate free speech. Arendt was stripped of her German citizenship & fled to Paris, where she met a fellow exile who became her husband. However, when the Nazis invaded France, Arendt moved to the USA, which became her permanent home. As an adopted American, she published 2 classic works of political philosophy: "The Origins of Totalitarianism" (1951), which examined how fascist & communist regimes came to power, and "Eichmann in Jerusalem" (1963), which considered Nazi officials' unquestioning loyalty to their government to embody the modern "banality of evil." Arendt generated controversy with remarks defending her former mentor & lover Heidegger over his decision to join the Nazi Party, but she nevertheless remains an influential thinker whose writings about the dangers of authoritarianism remain relevant to this day.Support the show
Episode 18 - 1961 Part II: Pay Any Price
Jan 30 2023
Episode 18 - 1961 Part II: Pay Any Price
In 1961, an multiracial group of intrepid "Freedom Riders" attempted to desegregate bus stations in some of the most militantly segregationist parts of the Deep South. These courageous civil rights activists, including John Lewis, Diane Nash, Jim Zwerg, and James Peck, encountered shocking violence in the State of Alabama. A bus they were taking was burned down, and several Riders were bloodied & beaten by organized vigilantes who opposed racial integration. Once photographic images & film footage of this brutality received international media coverage, the Kennedy Administration finally intervened to force desegregation of interstate travel facilities. Southern politicians then attempted to get revenge by tricking busloads of impoverished African-American Southerners to head north in the so-called "Reverse Freedom Rides." Meanwhile, Cold War tensions continued to heat up, as the Vienna Summit between John F. Kennedy & Nikita Khrushchev failed to reach a solution to the Berlin crisis, leading the Communists to construct the Berlin Wall to keep East Germans from moving into the capitalist West. Decolonization continued to free global populations from European imperialism, including a violent struggle that gained Algerian independence from France. Some new nations sought neutral non-alignment, while others allied with the Communist bloc. JFK tried to keep these new Third World nations from siding with the Soviets via aid programs such as Food for Peace, the Peace Corps, and the Alliance for Progress in Latin America. However, there was a more coercive side to these US Cold War efforts, as the Kennedy Administration also funded CIA interference into foreign politics, anti-Communist military buildups in Latin nations, and an escalation of US military commitment in South Vietnam. The year closed on an ominous note as both the USA & the USSR began escalating defense spending and nuclear testing.Support the show
Episode 17C - Bayard Rustin: 10-Minute Profile
Oct 4 2022
Episode 17C - Bayard Rustin: 10-Minute Profile
In this profile, we shift gears to examine the life of someone who was an outsider to mainstream America during the mid-20th Century, but who nevertheless found a way to make a major impact as an activist and organizer. Bayard Rustin was born to an African-American family of Quakers in Pennsylvania who were heavily involved in the NAACP.  After being kicked out of college, Rustin pursued a singing career in New York City during the 1930s. While living in the Big Apple, he became involved with the Young Communist League. Rustin liked the group's promotion of equal rights for Black people, but he disapproved of its cultish devotion to Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, which led him to resign. During the 1940s, he was hired as a writer & organizer by a pacifist organization, and he studied Mahatma Gandhi's nonviolent resistance tactics in India. In the years that followed, Rustin ran afoul of the law 3 times: for failing to register for the draft, for participating in a civil rights sit-in, & for engaging in a gay relationship. During the late 50s & early 60s, Rustin met Martin Luther King Jr. and convinced him to embrace a totally nonviolent approach (King had been carrying a gun for protection up to that point). Rustin successfully organized the famous March on Washington in 1963, despite becoming a lightning rod for right-wing criticism when people learned that he was gay ex-Communist. In the late 60s & early 70s, Rustin also drew criticism from some on the Left due to his opposition to the non-nonviolent militancy of the Black Power movement. Bayard Rustin then advocated for LGBT rights in his home state of New York prior to his death in 1987.Support the show
Ep. 17A - The Kennedys as Boomer Icons, Part III: Young Bobby
Jul 24 2022
Ep. 17A - The Kennedys as Boomer Icons, Part III: Young Bobby
Season 3 of our podcast begins with the next chapter of the Kennedy saga, as Rep. John F. Kennedy manages to knock off powerful incumbent Republican Senator Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. in the 1952 Massachusetts U.S. Senate race. The secret ingredient in that victory was  JFK's tenacious & combative younger brother, Robert F. Kennedy (often known as "RFK" or "Bobby"), who served as his campaign manager. RFK had grown up younger & shorter than his charismatic brothers Joe Junior  & Jack, and he had a bit of a chip on his shoulder. He started his political career as a staunch anti-Communist conservative, taking after his right-wing father. He even worked for infamous red-baiting Senator Joe McCarthy. But he still supported the Democrats, and after getting JFK into the Senate in 1952, he also served as the campaign manager for his presidential campaign in 1960. As a reward for his hard work, & to have a trusted confidant in the White House, JFK appointed RFK as his Attorney General. Bobby was known at the Justice Dept. for taking tough stances against organized crime at home & Communists abroad. However, after Jack's assassination in 1963, he moved far to the Left politically. He remade himself as a crusader against poverty & the Vietnam War, & he sought to defeat archrival Lyndon B. Johnson in the 1968 Democratic primary. However, his race was tragically cut short when he, too, was assassinated, leaving many Baby Boomers to dream about the America that might have been if Bobby Kennedy had survived to become president.Support the show
Ep. 16 - 1960 Part II: New Trajectories for American Politics & Society
Sep 29 2021
Ep. 16 - 1960 Part II: New Trajectories for American Politics & Society
A new wave of civil rights activism during the year 1960 indicated that social activist movements would be more aggressive during the Sixties than they had been during the previous decade. A sit-in at a lunch counter by four black college students in Greensboro, North Carolina gained national attention, & the nonviolent protest tactic spread around the country in the months that followed, successfully pushing many private businesses to desegregate their facilities. Many African-American groups rallied around the idea that non-violent civil disobedience was the future of the movement, although there were some dissenting voices. The presidential election of '60 pitted Vice-President Richard Nixon against the young upstart Senator John F. Kennedy. In order to win the Democratic nomination, Kennedy made certain to address & mitigate concerns that his Catholic faith would have an undue influence on his conduct in office. JFK's energy & charisma helped him outshine Nixon in one of the first televised presidential debates in US history. The November election proved extremely close, but Kennedy prevailed by a narrow margin in the popular vote & a broader margin in the Electoral College. Nixon showed restraint by accepting JFK's victory, despite reports of suspicious voting irregularities in Chicago. The FDA approved a birth control pill for the first time. Although its adoption was gradual, this development opened the door for major changes in American gender relations & sexual norms. We conclude by pointing out that there was much continuity between the late 50s & early 60s, but developing societal trends had already opened the door for the big changes soon to come.Support the show
Episode 13A - Special: Defining Liberalism
Apr 1 2021
Episode 13A - Special: Defining Liberalism
After spending our last episode discussing the rise of Cold War Liberalism, we take time out from our historical narrative during this special supplemental episode to explain the origins of the "liberal" political label, to identify why it became widely popular during the mid-20th-Century US, & to track how the term became so stigmatized by the American Right (& also the Far Left) that it has declined in popularity by the 21st Century. This episode briefly takes us back to the American & French Revolutions of the 18th Century, which were inspired by Enlightenment ideals proposing individual rights as a check upon the power of absolute monarchs. We then describe how middle-class liberals & working-class socialists sometimes cooperated but often clashed in 19th Century Europe. However, because there was no powerful Socialist movement in the United States, a Left-Liberal movement was able to emerge out of the 20th Century Progressive reform era that kept middle-class professionals & working-class laborers within the same Democratic Party coalition. That "New Deal" coalition of left-liberalism remained intact until the economic problems & culture wars of the late 20th Century weakened the coalition & allowed American conservatives to successfully turn "liberal" into a dirty word. In the 21st Century, the word "liberal" is still more favored by the American center-left's enemies than its advocates, but liberal philosophies have still left a major lasting impact on the modern United States.Support the show
Episode 13 - 1958: The Rise of Cold War Liberalism
Mar 2 2021
Episode 13 - 1958: The Rise of Cold War Liberalism
In 1958, Pres. Eisenhower grew fearful that Middle Eastern revolutions were posing a threat to America's military & economic interests, so he flexed US muscles by sending troops to Lebanon in what turned out to be an uneventful beachside deployment. Vice-President Nixon received a menacing reception while on tour in South America. In domestic politics, the big story of the late 50s was the rise of Cold War Era Liberalism, which became possible once the fears of McCarthyism subsided & Americans again began dreaming of major reforms. A new avant-garde emerged in the arts, as figures such as Jack Kerouac & Lenny Bruce were not afraid to challenge conventions. The Supreme Court under the leadership of Chief Justice Earl Warren issued rulings protecting civil liberties. John Kenneth Galbraith's "The Affluent Society" & other non-fiction bestsellers made the case for more government funding to public education & social services.  In the 1958 Congressional elections, Democrats gained significant ground in both houses of Congress. Senator John F. Kennedy began laying the groundwork for an upcoming presidential bid. Meanwhile, figures on the Conservative Right (such as National Review published William Buckley, Atlas Shrugged author Ayn Rand, & John Birch Society founder Robert Welch)  began challenging Eisenhower's moderate Republicanism. Finally, the United States expanded its official borders to new frontiers on the fringes of the North American continent by granting statehood to both Alaska & Hawaii.Support the show
Episode 12 - 1957: The Blessings of the Cold War?
Jan 16 2021
Episode 12 - 1957: The Blessings of the Cold War?
After a brief reflection on troubling recent events in the USA, this episode looks back at a seemingly simpler time - Dwight D. Eisenhower's second term as President. By the late 1950s, Cold War pressures led the US government to build major defense & infrastructure projects, to invest heavily in education & scientific research, & to undertake modest steps in the direction of greater racial equality.  The Interstate Highway Act of 1956 was a public works program that created jobs & democratized interstate travel, while displacing some unfortunate urban residents. The USSR's launch of the Sputnik satellites in 1957 led the US to invest in science via the National Defense Education Act (NDEA), & motivated the creation of the National Aeronautics & Space Administration (NASA). New defense spending spurred further southwestern migration, & this population shift enabled the Dodgers & Giants franchises of Major League Baseball to relocate to the West Coast. In 1957, a new civil rights act passed the United States Senate for the first time in nearly a century. However, the biggest racial justice milestone of the year occurred in Little Rock, Arkansas, where 9 black students courageously faced down jeering protesters & bullying classmates to integrate Central High School. Arkansas's segregationist governor, Orval Faubus, tried to prevent the Little Rock 9 from attending their classes, but when a reluctant President Eisenhower finally decided to send in federal troops to protect these African-American students, racist politicians & vigilantes backed off of their most blatant intimidation tactics.Support the show
Episode 10 - 1955: Daily Life for a Boomer Kid
Jul 21 2020
Episode 10 - 1955: Daily Life for a Boomer Kid
The year 1955 was chock-full of events of economic, social, medical, & cultural importance. Perhaps the year's biggest story was Dr. Jonas Salk's development of a successful vaccine to prevent the terrifying childhood disease known as polio. The economy remained strong, overcoming a scare from Pres. Eisenhower's heart attack. The AFL-CIO merger marked a landmark in labor history. Commercial enterprises like McDonald's debuted that took advantage of the growing car culture. The Baby Boom creating a new market for family entertainment, as evidenced by the success of a new Southern California theme park known as Disneyland. Further Soviet nuclear advances led schools to require Boomer children to hide under their desks in "duck-and-cover" drills. Rock & roll reached new heights of popularity as part of a growing youth culture. Adults became increasingly fearful of "juvenile delinquency," triggered by movies about street gangs, violent comic books, & rebellious film stars such as James Dean (who tragically died in '55). Westerns & quiz shows dominated the growing medium of television. Women's social roles & fashion choices remained highly limited amidst the gender conservatism of Fifties culture. Popular religious fervor encouraged some government officials to blur the lines between church & state. Some communities remained outside the growing prosperity, including poor whites in Appalachia, Latinos in the Southwest, & African-Americans in both the rural South & urban North. The brutal murder of black teenager Emmett Till sparked a new wave of civil rights activism, leading Rosa Parks & Martin Luther King to take leadership roles in the rising Montgomery Bus Boycott.Support the show