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Discrimination Diaries

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The 1920’s had the most changes and uproar of any decade. This was the age of business with Calvin Coolidge’s business mind leading to a short-lived prosperity. The new woman, the rise of Jazz, African American attempts for better rights, and the lost generation writers were also part of this enormous change. Young people of this generation finally felt less pressure to imitate their elders. This new culture will forever live on.
Business experienced an industrial growth in consumer production and consumption. More electricity was being mass produced than the rest of the world but when cars, refrigerators, and radios were being produced farmers fared the worst, as high tariffs to protect American business increased farmer bankruptcy. The government faired a laissez-faire attitude, and forty-percent of farmers who became landless, and moved to cities. The Model T. car was the most important economic arrival as it was first only for the rich priced at 850 dollars and went down to only 290 dollars. Ford suggested this drop in price as it helped the common workers buy the car and increase profits by an even greater margin. Revenue generating gasoline taxes, and growing dependency on the automobile gave rise to suburb expansion.
Woman in this age were unlike any other. Woman became educated and defied the morality or earlier generations. Women who got drunk, enjoyed sex, wore skimpy dresses, had short bobbed hair, bare arms and danced all night to wild jazz were called “flappers”. Woman in this time also drove the birth control movement in their effort to be entirely free. Margaret Sanger’s words were “no woman can call herself free until she can choose consciously whether she will or will not be a mother.” This was so obscene until Sanger gave the argument that limiting reproduction among groups called undesirable would limit problems in later years. It was only now that the nineteenth amendment was ratified and women were granted the vote. This granted Woman more job opportunities. More women worked for pay economically but in jobs that were seen as unfit for men. They worked as secretaries, typist, nurses, and elementary school teachers. Woman who worked at these jobs became less interested in protective legislation and more interested in salaries and opportunities equal to men’s. Feminist often did not go to the polls, as it was still male dominated and had a lack of experience in voting. Feminist divided as some asked for equal protection in factories while others even asked for special protection such as baring woman from working at nights. Even after the nineteenth amendment woman were not politically successful. There only legislative success came with the Sheppard- Towner Act set to extend federal assistance to states seeking to reduce infant mortality. Literacy tests and terrorism continued to annihilate the vote for African Americans and Woman alike.
Just as there was a “New Woman” in the 1920’s, there was also a “New African American.” Garvey urged African Americans who were suffering economic hardship and lynching in the south to take pride in their own culture. Garvey was arrested but had caused rise in black artist, sculptors, novelist, musicians and poets. Many blacks migrated to the North where they could expand their political influence. As African Americans moved north Jazz came to rising popularity across the nation. Whites came to nightclubs filled with black musicians but this did little to rid the prejudice of white society.
Jazz was one of the entertainment choices for Americans, but I was not the only one. Movies, Radio, music and sports became national culture. Movie theatres and baseball provided escape from the daily lives of Americans. Radio stations rose from 30 to 606 radio stations in 7 years, which added to the popularity of jazz. The new entertainment and rise of arts brought forth literature as well. These college educated white writers like F. Scott Fitzgerald, author of The Great Gatsby felt the culture was selfish and anti- intellectual. They felt embittered by the war and named “The Lost Generation” by Gertrude Stein, the first writer to popularize the modern writing style. These writings showed how the rich had all the spending money and the ordinary citizens could not contribute enough to the economy.
Despite the cultural changes in society during this time, the Great Depression came about. Car sales went down as demand was not high and cuts in wages decreased consumer spending. Cuts in wages and laid off workers led to high unemployment and a domino downfall for the whole nation. Though the business world seemed prosperous, it did not last long and many people struggled to make a good living. Though these times were hard business remains a big part of our society as well as women’s rights, discrimination, , literature of the lost generation, and jazz still affect us today. Today unemployment is still increasingly high and rich have the money. Like long ago, it is not trickling down to the poor and there isn’t much the government can do anymore to help its citizens. Even discrimination and a lack of women’s rights are present currently. This was the decade where changes came about the most but change in culture and society is happening all around.…...

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