The play takes place in the 1930s, and the U.S. was in the midst of an economic depression that stemmed from weaknesses in our economy after World War I. In just three years, from 1929 to 1932, the number of people who had no job increased from 1.5 million to 15 million people. By the mid-1930s, the depression had hit rural areas hard, especially in agriculture, forcing many black farm laborers to lose their jobs. The election of Franklin D. Roosevelt led to reforms through his New Deal plan, and most African Americans changed their political party to the Democrats, in support of Roosevelt.
Even though slavery was outlawed, it would be the 1950s and 1960s before civil rights legislation would be passed, legally forcing white Americans to give black Americans the same rights and freedoms that was promised to all Americans in the Bill of Rights.