The 1920s is sometimes called the “Roaring Twenties” because of the rapid changes in lifestyle it brought to many Americans. Young women of the 1920s called "Flappers" smoked, drank, bobbed their hair, and danced the Charleston. Why did they break loose in the 20s? They had the right to vote. Some people, though, call this decade the “Gilded Age” because it looked prosperous and rich on the outside, but poverty and misery lay beneath the flashy surface for many Americans. New farm machinery enabled farmers to grow more crops than ever before in history. The massive amount of food they produced, though, drove down prices. Also, European farm production was rising now that WWI was over, and demand for US crops declined, leaving farmers with bills to pay, and little income to pay them with. Also, many industries weren’t very prosperous. These included iron, railroads, textiles, and mining. The gap between rich and poor widened, with business owners and managers becoming wealthy, and workers barely surviving. These are common oil workers: Here is John D Rockefeller, the owner of Standard Oil: The 1920s saw the beginnings of consumerism: a massive outbreak of people buying consumer goods. Why the 1920s? There were new inventions every day, and new gadgets for sale to make life easier. And, with new forms of media, such as movies and radio, it was far easier to advertise these new products and convince people they needed them. But most retailers still advertised in newspapers and catalogs: And just like the ad said, if you couldn’t afford to buy it with cash, buy it on credit, or the installment plan. The good side: this plan let less wealthy folks afford nice stuff. The bad side: many people bankrupted themselves buying crap they didn’t really need. Listen to this conversation overheard on a train in the 20s: “Do you have an automobile yet?” “No, I talked it over with John and he felt we could not afford one.” “Mr. Budge, who lives in your town, has one, and they are not as well off as you.” “Yes, I know. Their second payment came due, and they had no money to pay it.” “What did they do? Lose the car?” “No, they got the money and paid the payment.” “How did they get the money?” “They sold the cook stove.” “How could they get along without a cook stove?” “They didn’t. They bought another one on the installment plan.” Dance Marathons: The longest one lasted for 22 weeks, 3 ½ days! Flagpole Sitting: The most famous flagpole sitter was “Shipwreck Kelley,” who once stayed atop a pole for 7 straight weeks. This is Shipwreck, above “Oxford Bags:” the pants, not the girls. Patent leather hair In the 1920s, hundreds of thousands of young African-Americans moved north in what is called the Great Migration, in search of jobs. They often found acceptance difficult, even in the North, and occasionally, race riots broke out. WEB Du Bois founded the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and led a march of 10,000 men in New York. Du Bois wanted immediate equality for African Americans. He thought that they would only receive equality by demanding it, and fighting for it if necessary. Booker T Washington was an African American leader with a different view. He thought that blacks should work hard, be patient, and become productive members of society, without angry protests. He thought that kind of stuff just made white America more angry, and lessened the chances of equality. He said that if African Americans became made the best products, White people would buy them, whether made by an African American or not. And over time, no one would even care about color. Still , where tensions flared, lynchings continued. African-American leader Marcus Garvey founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association, and encouraged African-Americans to return to Africa and build a new, separate society. His movement dwindled when he was jailed for mail fraud. So, DuBois wanted immediate equality for African Americans, right now. Washington wanted slow, gradual equality through patience. Garvey didn’t want equality at all in America. He wanted blacks to go back to Africa. Like many urban neighborhoods, Harlem in NYC suffered from overcrowding, unemployment, and poverty. But in the 1920s, its problems were eclipsed by the outbreak of an African-American literary and artistic movement called the Harlem Renaissance. Above all, the Harlem Renaissance was a movement led by well-educated, middle-class African Americans who expressed new pride in the black experience in America. Poets, novelists, painters, and musicians found inspiration in their surroundings, and in the lifestyles of their contemporaries. Jean Toomer’s book of poems and sketches entitled Cane was the among the first full length publications of the Harlem Renaissance. Up from the skeleton stone walls, up from the rotting floor boards and the solid hand-hewn beams of oak of the prewar cotton factory, dusk came. Up from the dusk the full moon came. Glowing like a fired pineknot, it illumined the great door and soft showered the Negro shanties aligned along the single street of factory town. The full moon in the great door was an omen. Negro women improvised songs against its spell. Langston Hughes was the movement’s best-known poet. Here is an excerpt from his poem Negro Speaks of Rivers: I've known rivers ancient as the world and older than the flow of human blood in human viens. My soul has grown deep like the rivers. I bathed in the Euprates when dawns were young. I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep. I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it. I heard the signing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln went down to New Orleans, and I've seen its muddy bosom turn all golden in the sunset. My soul has grown deep like the rivers. Trumpet player Louis Armstrong, called “Satchmo,” became one of the most influential jazz musicians in history. Aaron Douglas was one of the most influential painters of the Harlem Renaissance. The bright colors and somber tones of Jacob Lawrence. Some white American authors, disillusioned by the materialism of the US, moved to Paris and continued to write. They were called the "Lost Generation," and they included Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, and John Steinbeck. He drove his old car into a town. He scoured the farms for work. Where can we sleep the night? Well, there’s a Hooverville on the edge of the river. There’s a whole raft of Okies there. He drove his old car to Hooverville. He never asked again, for there was a Hooverville on the edge of every town. The rag town lay close to water; and the houses were tents, and weed-thatched enclosures, paper houses, a great junk pile. The man drove his family in and became a citizen of Hooverville--always they were called Hooverville. The man put up his own tent as near to water as he could get; or if he had no tent, he went to the city dump and brought back cartons and built a house of corrugated paper. And when the rains came the house melted and washed away. He settled in Hooverville and he scoured the countryside for work, and the little money he had went for gasoline to look for work. In the evening the men gathered and talked of the land they had seen. There’s thirty thousan’ acres, out west of here. Layin’ there. Jesus, what I could do with that, with five acres of that! Why, hell, I’d have ever’thing to eat. Notice one thing? They ain’t no vegetables not chickens not pigs at the farms. They raise one thing--cotton, say, or peaches, or lettuce. ‘Nother place’ll be all chickens. They buy the stuff they could raise in the dooryard. Jesus, what I could do with a couple pigs! Well, it ain’t yourn, an’ it ain’t gonna be yourn. What we gonna do? The kids can’t grow up this way. -From Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath Anne Dallas Dudley was a prominent activist in the women’s suffrage movement. After founding the Nashville Equal Suffrage League and serving as its president, she moved up through the ranks of the movement, serving as President of the and then as Third Vice President of the National American Women Suffrage Association, where she helped lead efforts to get the 19th Amendment ratified. She is especially noted for her successful efforts to get the Nineteenth Amendment ratified in her home state of Tennessee, the final state necessary to bring the amendment into force. Harry Burn was a state Senator from Niota. In 1920, the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote was being debated by the states. If one more state voted in favor of the amendment, Women would get to vote. When Tennessee was voting on whether to allow women the right to vote, he voted “NO” two times. The vote was deadlocked, and could not pass. The third time, he changed his vote to “YES” and suddenly women had the right to vote in America, because of Harry Burn and the state of Tennessee. Why did he change his vote? Because between the 2nd and 3rd ballots, he got a letter from his mom telling him to! Since Tennessee was the 36th state to ratify the 19th Amendment, and the last one needed to make it a law, those states were called the “Perfect 36.” Tennessee Governor Albert Roberts officially signed the Amendment into effect. Jane Addams founded Hull House, one of America’s first settlement houses. Here, city dwellers could take classes in English, health, and painting, and even some college credit courses. Nurses from settlement houses visited the sick, and aid was given to deserted women, widows, injured workers, and their families. By 1910, there were 400 settlement houses in the US. Addams was a co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931.