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The 1950s has been labeled by some to be a decade of prosperity. It was a decade of...

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user1563585 | (Level 2) eNoter

Posted April 29, 2013 at 8:25 PM via web

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The 1950s has been labeled by some to be a decade of prosperity. It was a decade of consumerism and freedom of consumer choice. However, it was also a decade of exclusion for blacks and ethnic minorities. This disenfranchisement gave genesis to the civil rights movement led by cultural critics who spoke out against conformity. Briefly explain how someone might consider the decade of the 1950s to be a tale of two Americas or even still a decade of paradox.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted April 29, 2013 at 8:34 PM (Answer #1)

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Really, the answer to this question is contained in the question itself.  The 1950s can be seen as a decade of paradox or a tale of two Americas because there were some people whose lives were improving very rapidly while other people’s lives were not.

To many people, the 1950s were a golden age.  This was a time when the US was without question the richest country in the world.  Standards of living were rising rapidly and people were better off than they ever had been before.  There was relative peace and contentment in American society in a way that had not been true since at least 1929.  Therefore, things were great for many people.

But this does not tell the story of African Americans, in particular, of other minorities, of some women, and of some people who disliked the culture of the time.  These groups were generally oppressed to at least some degree.  The clearest example of this is how African Americans were still subject to legal discrimination in many states of the country.  While whites prospered, African Americans remained largely stuck in a Jim Crow world.

Thus, America was a country of contrast in these times because it was a boom time and golden age for some while others did not enjoy the “good times” nearly as much. 

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