On August 13, 1966, China officially launched the “Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution.” The Cultural Revolution was a massive political campaign designed by Communist Party Chairman Mao Zedong and his wife, Jiang Qing, to strengthen their leadership and discredit their political opponents.
 
The Cultural Revolution is often associated with the Red Guards. Mao had closed China’s schools as part of the Cultural Revolution, and groups of young people were organized into units (Red Guards) who violently opposed the “Four Olds”: old customs, old culture, old habits, and old ideas. Traditional Chinese names of businesses, streets, and even people were changed; examples of classic Chinese architecture were destroyed; and books were burned.
 
The Red Guards also accused and publicly denounced teachers, elected officials, and even their parents. Mao’s political rivals were imprisoned or killed, and thousands of urban youths were “sent down” to do manual labor in rural areas.
 
The Cultural Revolution only ended with Mao’s death ten years later. More than a million people had been killed, and even more were imprisoned, tortured, lost their homes and property, or forced into exile. Denied an education, former Red Guards and other young people of the Cultural Revolution are called the “Lost Generation.”
architecture
Noun

style and design of buildings or open spaces.

associate
Verb

to connect.

campaign
Noun

activities designed to achieve a social, political, or military goal.

Cultural Revolution
Noun

(1966-1976) radical social-political movement in China characterized by military rule, terrorism, purges, and restructuring of the educational system.

denounce
Verb

to publicly condemn or blame.

destroy
Verb

to ruin or make useless.

exile
Noun

forced ejection from a country, or a person who feels forced to leave.

generation
Noun

group in a species made up of members that are roughly the same age.

imprison
Verb

to confine or put in a jail-like facility.

launch
Verb

to start or instigate.

manual
Adjective

done by a person, not a machine.

massive
Adjective

very large or heavy.

officially
Adverb

formally or with proper authority.

organize
Verb

to coordinate and give structure to.

political
Adjective

having to do with public policy, government, administration, or elected office.

proletarian
Adjective

having to do with the lower working class (proletariat).

property
Noun

goods or materials (including land) owned by someone.

rival
Noun

opponent.

rural
Adjective

having to do with country life, or areas with few residents.

torture
Noun

inflicting pain to force a victim to provide information.

urban
Adjective

having to do with city life.