The 1950s were often depicted as the “Happy Days” era of modern America. How much of this is true? 

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In many ways, the answer to this depends on whose perspective we look at the 1950s from.

From many people’s perspectives, the 1950s were a great time.  This was particularly true for white males who held orthodox political opinions.  The 1950s were a time of economic boom.  America was the richest country in the world and Americans could now have material goods that had never before been available on such a wide scale (if at all).  This was a good time, particularly after decades of depression and war.

However, for many other people, this was not such a good time.  People who held leftist views were persecuted.  Women had very little in the way of life opportunities.  They were largely limited to acting as wives and mothers, which led to a great deal of frustration for many women after the opportunities and independence and their contributions to the economy during WWII.  For African Americans and other minorities, it is very hard to say that these were “happy days.”  This was still a time of very strict segregation in the South.  It was a time when discrimination was still widespread and legal.  This was the decade in which Emmett Till was killed, a fourteen-year-old African-American boy who was brutally murdered for speaking to a white female shopkeeper.  Thus, for many people, the 1950s were not a golden age.  However, for many white men in particular, it could be seen in this way.