The Americans in the 1920s had major developments in their entertainment. Jazz music developed from ragtime and blues and became the new most popular music.
New commercial radio stations brought sport news into every home and contests and marathons were held for people. The first silent anonymous figures were featured in the cinemas. Magazines of the time such as Vogue and Life catered for the tastes and fashions of the day. This entertainment was cheap and easily accessible to millions. Especially films, many used these as an escape.
Many women in the 1920’s felt free after the 19th amendment was passed and they were allowed to vote. Some women who rebelled against the expected stereotype of how women were to behave and what they were to wear. These were known as flappers who smoked, wore make up and perfume and revealed their flesh, i.
e. wore short skirts or showed their mid riff. Some even to the disgust of many indulged in drink and sex before marriage. Naturally they faced opposition and the anti-flirt league was introduced.
Particularly Margaret Sanger an ex nurse who campaigned for birth control facilities for the poor. Mass production meant that women were spending more time away from the household chores there were more opportunities for women who wanted to increase their independence. New magazines discussed issues like feminism and equality there was an appeal to the liberated women of the 1920’s, and the pursuits of pleasure magazines became extremely popular.The Ku Klux Klan made it impossible for many people to live free lives. It was revived and existed to separate blacks from whites. At the beginning the Ku Klux Klan only discriminated against blacks but later on it opposed many other groups of people including Catholics, Radicals and Socialists. The majority of the Ku Klux Klan were southern whites who believed they were defending the American way of life against all kinds of enemies.
The Ku Klux Klan tortured and killed many many people predominantly blacks. The Grandest Dragon was responsible for the decline of the Klan. He was found guilty of the rape and mutilation of a woman on a Chicago train. The public were outraged and the Klan went into decline.Blacks had very little freedom they continued to live under the Jim Crowe laws that had been passed in 1877.
These kept blacks segregated from whites. On buses, hospital wards, schools, blood banks, water fountains and many other places. The Blacks were very poor in the 1920’s 3/4 million blacks lived in slums-black ghettos. Many companies such as Henry Ford had an all white policy, racism thrived. The majority of white Americans believed that the true Americans were the WASPS who could trace their ancestors back to the Mayflower 1611.
Blacks suffered mob attacks, hanging, tarring and feathering. The aim was to put uppity blacks in their place, e.g.
taking white jobs. They lived their lives in fear.There was a change in the law that led to prohibition. It came into force 16 Jan 1920 and remained until Jan 1933. The anti saloon league had been putting pressure on the government to get this ban.
They argued that drinking led to ill health, crime and poverty. Late prohibition failed because many Americans were drinking alcohol and a whole new world of crime had been created. Smuggling was easy because of America’s vast coastline. Judges were unwilling to convict and the law was difficult to enforce.Al Capone one of America’s most notorious gangsters thrived and ruled over his vast empire based on the profits from the trafficking of illegal alcohol. He maintained his position and bribery paying officials of authority to keep their silence.
Al Capone was also responsible for the Valentines Day massacre were his gang murdered seven members of a rival gang. By 1926, there were 30,000 speakeasies illegal bars set up within the city. The prices of liquor were high and the quality varied. These were often owned by powerful gangs. Bootlegging involved making or importing illegal alcohol to eager customers ready to pay the gangsters going rates.Finally many people in the Southern states were fundamentalists in the 1920’s. When Charles Darwin introduced the theory of Evolution and argued that all life had evolved from natural selection.
His books were band from all schools in the south as blacks did not want a system of education that destroyed the religious faith of their children. Darwin’s freedom of speech was not considered and it shows how people were in fact not free to have their opinion heard if it went against or questioned the morality of another belief.So to conclude this essay I would like to question just how free people were in America were in the 1920’s. I believe that in order to answer this we must take into consideration the geographical divide. The North being the richest part of America.
The South being backwards rural and poor. It is evident that the Blacks in the South did not feel free undergoing frequent racism and persecution by the Ku Klux Klan and people in general under the laws that they lived under. They also retaliated in their own way by not considering Charles Darwin’s theory making a mockery of freedom of speech.With laws passed against alcohol this freedom of being able to drink was replaced with crime that in theory backfired on the government creating a worse situation. Women were free to a certain extent after finally getting the vote but there was always sexism and opposition remained claiming them to be inferior. So that leaved the entertainment that the white people of the North would have benefited from not the people of the South.
It is quite clear to see that The North experienced much more freedom than the south that was controlled by laws and poverty.