Essay about The Political, Economic, and Social Changes during the 1950s

Submitted By Cindy-Hsieh
Words: 1559
Pages: 7

To what extent did the decade of the 1950s deserve its reputation as one of consensus and conformity?
1. Political conformity 2. Economic prosperity 3. Social changes of the decade
Primary source: Michigan Communist Control Law, 1952.
Homogenized society + conformity

Source: Code of the City of Montgomery, Alabama, 1952.
This piece of municipal legislation mandates the separation of races on city bus lines. ivil rights activists also fought for desegregation in other areas such as public transportation. The Montgomery Bus Boycott, sparked by Rosa Parks' refusal to sit in the area reserved for blacks, lasted 381 days from 1955 to 1956 with blacks refusing to use public transportation. The boycott succeeded in ending segregation on public buses in Montgomery, Alabama.

Source: Mrs. Klerk, quoted in Expanding the American Dream, 1993.
Background information: A woman who lived in the suburbs in the 1950s recalls the sense of community she and others felt living in their neighborhood.
1. Business expansion: conglomerates & franchises standardized what ppl ate; economic advancement for ppl who conform; job security; baby boom & suburbs; more consumer choices
1. Suburban expansion: flight from the cities
Chance to live American Dream; women felt dissatisfied w/ their lives; popularity of automobile; decline in cities; racial & economic gulf between city and suburb dwellers
1. Population growth: the baby boom largest generation in US history; suburb and business expansion; school overcrowding and teacher shortage; more youth activities
4. Dramatic increase in leisure time business expansion in leisure industry; ppl had time for recreational activities; increase in sale of books & magazines
4. Dramatic increase in the use of the automobile increase building of roads & highways; increase in suburbs & decline in cities; trucking industry took business from railroads; unified nation; more leisure possibilities; created jobs; created noise & air pollution; traffic jams and accidents
4. The rise of consumerism equated materials goods w/ success; expansion of business; production of wider range of goods; “throwaway society”; increase of public debt; boom in advertising industry
Source: Brown v. Board of Education, Supreme Court decision, 1954.
An African American third-grader named Linda Brown wished to enroll in the white elementary school in her neighborhood, but the principal of the school refused. Oliver Brown, her father, enlisted the help of the Topeka branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Other families joined the case, and, in 1951, the NAACP requested an injunction that would forbid the segregation of Topeka's public schools. The District Court, using the precedent of Plessy v. Ferguson, ruled in favor of the Board of Education. The Supreme Court overturned the lower court's decision. On May 17, 1954, Chief Justice Earl Warren read the decision of the unanimous Court:
"To separate [black children] from others of similar age and qualifications solely because of their race generated a feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community that may affect their hearts and minds in a way unlikely ever to be undone.... Any language in Plessy v. Ferguson contrary to this finding is rejected.... We conclude that in the field of public education the doctrine of "separate but equal" has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.... [Separate educational facilities therefore violate] the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment."
Ruled that segregation in the public schools as “inherently unequal” and thus unconstitutional. This decision was largely accepted throughout the North and even in the Border States, but states in the Deep South organized “massive resistance” to the decision.
Source: John Kenneth Galbraith, The Affluent Society, 1958.
To most Americans, the postwar era seemed to be one of fabulous prosperity — new…