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The Scottsboro trials famous episode of legal injustice in the Jim Crow South.
9 young men falsely accused of raping 2 white women.
They were all convicted and faced execution despite prominent lawyers arguing the accusations were false.
The American communist party took on the case. Eventually in 1937,all nine lives were saved. Successfully beat the Jim Crow laws.



During the 1920's America experienced an economic boom. Governments adopted a Laissez Faire policy meaning businesses were free to expand. Mass production. Growth of brains and advertising which increased desire for commodities.

In October 1929 the Wall Street stock crashed. The world economy plunged into a great depression. People were in panic and couldn't get rid of their stocks quick enough. Since everyone was selling and no one was buying, stock prices collapsed.
Shattered people's sense of security and invincibility.
Communist ideology became far more appealing.
Number of unemployed people reached upwards of 13 million.


The American dream

Every man and woman shall, regardless of their birth, achieve what they're able to. Everyone should be treated equally.
The declaration of Independence: All men are created equally.
American dream is shaped by a number of collective values. Individualism: self- actualization- moral pursuit of the individual. Self-reliance
New York represented a Utopia were every type of dream and desire could become true.


The Jazz age/ Golden age 1920s

Reckless pleasure seeking
Below is moral emptiness- darker more sinister element to pleasure
hedonistic lifestyle- partying, drugs and alcohol
Illegal activity
Proliferation of parties


The Lost Generation: post ww1 (1914-1918)

Glamorous but dissatisfied lives
Modernist technique
Lives aimless with no purpose
Many disillusioned after the war
Moral ambiguity



Modern scientific studies viewed AA as biologically inferior.
Second- class citizens.
Black people were paid less than their white counterparts and they had to work harder than everyone else, often given the more 'dirty work'.


The Civil War (1861-1865)

Conflict between the North and South
The South supported Slavery- using them to work on plantations and cotton fields. Southern wealth was based upon slavery.

The North was opposed to Slavery.
Northern Abraham Lincoln became president.
11 states from the South decided to break away and have their own government. Civil War was declared. 1863- Lincoln declared emancipation- all slaves were freed.
1865- The south surrendered. Abolition of Slavery


Jim Crow Laws (1890-1965)

Jim Crow Laws- based in South
Enforced segregation between white and blacks
In the South, white superiority was enforced- slave culture was remembered and embraced.
Strict control- able to shape opportunities
Inter-marriage between white and blacks was illegal
Public places had separate rooms and facilities


Ku Klux Klan

It was virtually impossible to challenge the segregation
To do so ran the serious risk of violence at the hands of white racists the KKK.
By the 1920's it had over 100,000 members and its influence was spreading North.
Its campaigns of hate included beatings, burnings, brandings, acid attacks and lynching.
The Southern state was effective at limiting the political power of the black populations.


The Great Migration (1916-1970)

Movement of 6 million aa from Southern US to urban North e.g. Chicago and NY.
Driven by harsh segregationist laws and unsatisfactory economic movement.


Harlem Renaissance 1920s

Harlem is a neighbourhood in Manhattan, New York City. Cultural, social and artistic movement that took place.
Kindled a new black culture
As a means of achieving equality and civil rights
Appeal to white audiences
To celebrate black identity


Women In America

Emerging acceptance that women could be sexually powerful and confident
In 1920- all women got the right to vote
As a result of the work women did in the war 1914-1918 women gained a new found respect
Women forced to take on roles of men. The war revolutionised the industrial position of women.
The national women's trade union league established to advocate for improved wages and conditions for working women.
Women were believed to belong to the domestic sphere
Motherhood was seen as affirmation of their identity
Property restrictions made it difficult or impossible to leave a failed marriage.
In 1845, New York granted a married woman who secured "a patent for her own invention" the right to hold it and retain all earnings from it "as if unmarried
Assumed Women did not need to vote because their husbands would take responsibility of political matters
'The angel in the house' poem by Coventry Patmore 'Man must be pleased'
Marriage- conjugal rights- rights to everything their body produced: children, sex and domestic labour
Marriage signified a women's maturity and respectability
Many endured their husband's control, cruelty. sexual violence, physical violence, verbal abuse and economic deprivation.
The rise of the 'New Woman' in 1930's saw a rise in the number of educated and independent women who sort fulfilment beyond the bounds of marriage and motherhood.
However, this was a socially divisive construct- seen by many as 'going against their nature' bound to have mental and physical repercussions and most importantly affect fertility.


The Prohibition (1920-1933)

The US put a constitutional ban on the production, importation, transportation and sale of alcoholic beverages. Many believed it was the cause of society's sins including domestic violence, fighting and public damage.
Believing importing, buying and consuming alcohol was supporting German brewers. After war strong anti-German feeling
Bars and clubs known as speakeasies secretly and illegally sold alcohol.
Growth of criminal activity- Al Capone reportedly made $60 million annually.


The Dust Bowl 1935

The dust bowl was the name given to the Great Plains region devastated by drought in 1930's depression.
Recurrent dust storms wreaked havoc.
During 1800's there was much fertile land
During 1920's grain prices dropped so farmers had to plant more. Depleted soil nutrients.
Paired with high temperatures, little rain strong winds. caused frequent dust storms. In 1935 a huge dust storm rose dropping 12 million tonnes of dust on Chicago.
Many had to give up farming and move west to look for better opportunities.


Route 66 1920-1930's

Highway starting in Chicago ending in Western California.
Major pathway for those migrating West.
Especially during dust bowl
In search of jobs and new homes
Road carried nations through hard times and rebirth
provided hope for a new life
Defined a new generation looking for freedom and hope
So many people migrated from Oklahoma they were dubbed 'okies'
California advertised for migrant workers and found themselves overwhelmed.
Instead of immediate riches, they often found squalor in roadside ditch encampments.


Post Civil War immigration

After the Civil war the country transformed into an industrial superpower and became largely urban. A wave of unskilled Southern European, Eastern European, Asian and Jewish immigrants came to settle in the promised lands of USA.
Found the streets were not paved with Gold - squalid conditions. Devastating effects of poverty, alcohol and lack of education
Living in dangerous slums
Worked in sweatshops which paid workers only a few cents per day.