BEIJING (AP) — On May 16, 1966, the Communist Party's Politburo produced a document announcing the start of what was formally known as the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution to pursue class warfare and enlist the population in mass political movements. Launched by leader Mao Zedong, it set off a decade of tumult to revive communist goals and enforce a radical egalitarianism.
The Cultural Revolution took on an agenda characterized by extreme violence, leading to the downfall of leading officials, factional battles, mass rallies and the exile of educated youths to the countryside. It wound up severely threatening the Communist Party's legitimacy to rule.
The Cultural Revolution finally came to a close with Mao's death on Sept. 9, 1976.
These photos from The Associated Press' archives offer a look at the Cultural Revolution that began a half-century ago Monday.