Chapter 20 – The Roaring Twenties
Section Notes Video
American Life Changes The Roaring Twenties
The Harlem Renaissance
A New Popular Culture Is Born
African American Migration,
History Close-up 1910–1920
The Harlem Renaissance
Quick Facts Urban and Rural Population,
Visual Summary: The Roaring 1890–1930
Twenties The Spirit of St. Louis
American Life Changes
The Main Idea
The United States experienced many social changes during the
• What were the new roles for American women in the 1920s?
• What were the effects of growing urbanization in the United States
in the 1920s?
• In what ways did the 1920s reveal a national conflict over basic
• What was Prohibition, and how did it affect the nation?
New Roles for Women
New Opportunities New Family Roles
• 19th Amendment • Continued to have
allowed women to vote & primary responsibility
some were elected to office for home care and most
• 1920s many women still depended on men
joined the workforce, but for financial support
professions • Sought greater equality
in relationships with
• More attended college men
• Ex: Flappers
Flapper a young woman of the 1920s who defied
traditional ideas of proper dress and behavior
Flappers Other Women
• Short hair, high hemlines, • Many disapproved of
makeup, smoking, flappers ―reckless‖
drinking, and dancing
• Thought they were
• Popular among young, only interested in fun
independent, free lifestyle
• Mostly in cities
Effects of Urbanization
• 1920s great economic opportunities for many, except
– Demand for products ↓
• 1st Time More Americans in cities than in rural areas
• Automobile helped bring the cities and the country
• Education ↑ states passed laws requiring children to
attend school, helping force children out of workplaces
As industry grew, more people could afford to send their
children to school
Conflicts over Values
• Americans in cities = shift in values
• Rural America traditional spirit of hard work, self-
reliance, religion, and independence
• Cities changes that threatened rural/traditional values
• Extreme reaction to values change = Ku Klux Klan grew
dramatically in the 1920s
• Used violence, targeting African Americans, Catholics,
Jews, and all immigrants
• 1920s Klan focused on influencing politics
• Membership spread nationwide
• Peak membership in the millions, many from Indiana,
Illinois, and Ohio declined in the late 1920s because
of a series of scandals affecting Klan leaders
The Rise of Fundamentalism
• Changing times = many turn to religion for
• Key figure minister Billy Sunday
– Condemned radicals and criticized the
changing attitudes of women, reflecting
much of white, rural America’s ideals
• Sunday’s Christian beliefs based on a literal
translation of the Bible fundamentalism
• Another fundamentalist preacher Aimee
The Scopes Trial
• Showed the conflict in values between rural/traditional vs.
• Conflict = Teaching of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution in
– Darwin humans evolved from monkeys
– Fundamentalists humans were created by God - Creationism
• Fundamentalist law in Tennessee outlawed teaching of evolution
• Science teacher, John Scopes violated the law, arrested = trial
• Clarence Darrow represented Scopes
• William Jennings Bryan represented the prosecution
• Scopes convicted and fined $100, but Darrow never got a chance
to appeal because the conviction was overturned by higher court
• Progressives (WCTU) & World War I
• Protestant religious groups and fundamentalists favored
prohibition alcohol contributed to society’s evils (cities)
• 18th Amendment banned manufacture, sale, transport of
alcohol (Volstead Act)
• Alcohol consumption did ↓…BUT
• Enforcing it proved to be virtually impossible drinking itself,
not illegal = Millions violated the laws
• Smuggling operations emerge bootleggers
• Speakeasies illegal bars with alcohol
• Many made their own liquor, others got alcohol from doctors
• Organized crime ↑ Ex: Chicago gangster Al Capone
The Harlem Renaissance
The Main Idea
Transformations in the African American community contributed to a
blossoming of black culture centered in Harlem, New York.
• What was the Great Migration, and what problems and
opportunities faced African Americans in the post–World War I era?
• What was Harlem, and how was it affected by the Great Migration?
• Who were the key figures of the Harlem Renaissance?
The Great Migration
• The Great Migration major relocation of African
Americans from the South to Northern cities (1910-1920s)
– Chicago, Detroit, NY African American populations ↑
• Southern life low-paying jobs, segregation, racial
• North chance for freedom, economic opportunities (jobs)
• Harlem, New York a favorite destination for migrating
• Found opportunities, but also racism
– Job competition
– Racial violence (ex: 1919 Chicago riots)
– Greater expectations of equality (ex: after WWI)
Life in Harlem
• NYC – Harlem unofficial capital of African
American culture and activism
• W.E.B. Du Bois key voice in Harlem
– 1909 National Association for the
Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
– Editor of The Crisis a major outlet for
African American writing and poetry, which
helped promote the African American literary
and arts movement the Harlem
• Jamaican-born American who took pride in African heritage
• Formed the Universal Negro Improvement Association
• Promoted self-reliance & economic success for African
Americans without white involvement
• Back to Africa Movement Wanted American blacks to go
back to Africa to create a new empire
• Garvey & UNIA vs. W.E.B. Du Bois & NAACP
• Conflicts over role of whites
• Garvey went to prison (mail fraud) and was deported upon
A Renaissance in Harlem
• Harlem African Americans, many from the South, felt a
strong sense of racial pride and identity
• Historic influx of talented African American writers, thinkers,
musicians, and artists, resulting in the Harlem Renaissance
Writers Poets Artists
• Often focused
• Zora Neale • Claude McKay
Hurston and and Langston
Hughes experiences of
James Weldon African
Johnson wrote • Wrote of: Americans
of facing white • Black defiance & • William H.
prejudice hope Johnson, Aaron
• Culture in 1920s Douglas and
Harlem Jacob Lawrence
Harlem Renaissance Performers and Musicians
• Created new • Jazz musical blend of several
opportunities for African different forms from the Lower
American stage South (New Orleans) with new
performers and innovations in sound
musicians • Improvised, or composed on
• Paul Robeson won fame
onstage, performing in • Good for dancing The
movies and stage Charleston
productions like Othello • Harlem was a vital center for
jazz clubs (Whites & Blacks)
• Played in the
groundbreaking • Famous Musicians
1921 musical • Louis Armstrong
• Bessie Smith
which had an all-
black cast • Cab Calloway
• Composers Duke Ellington &
A New Popular Culture is Born
The Main Idea
New technologies helped produce a new mass culture in the 1920s.
• How did mass entertainment change in the 1920s?
• Who were the cultural heroes of the 1920s?
• How was the culture of the 1920s reflected in the arts and
literature of the era?
Radio Drives Popular Culture
1920s radio became standard equipment in American
Rise of the Radio Radio Station Boom
• Guglielmo Marconi • Simple broadcasts
invented the radio in the became popular
• October 1920
• 1920 radio hobbyist Westinghouse started
near Pittsburgh started KDKA the first radio
playing records over his station
radio, and people started
• Americans now had a
listening shared experience.
1920s Movies exploded in popularity
New Film Techniques Talkies and Cartoons
• Films with sound ―talkies‖
• In early years movies
were short, simple pieces • 1927 The Jazz Singer
• 1928 animated film
• D. W. Griffith’s The Birth Steamboat Willie introduced
of a Nation, a Mickey Mouse and cartoons
movie techniques and
helped establish film as
an art form and widened
By the end of the 1920s, Americans bought 100 million movie
tickets a week, though the entire U.S. population was about
123 million people.
Film Star Heroes
• Movie stars were born
• Charlie Chaplin a comedian whose signature character
was a tramp in a derby hat and ragged clothes
• Rudolph Valentino leading man of romantic films, was such
a big star that his unexpected death in 1926 drew tens of
thousands of women to the funeral home where his body lay
• Clara Bow nicknamed the ―It Girl‖
• Mary Pickford was considered ―America’s Sweetheart‖ and was
married to Douglas Fairbanks Jr., a major star of action films
• Their home, called ―Pickfair,‖ was in Hollywood, the center of the
motion picture industry
Pilot Heroes of the Twenties
• Charles Lindbergh was a daredevil pilot who practiced his skills as an airline
pilot, a dangerous, life-threatening job at the time.
• Lindbergh heard about a $25,000 prize for the first aviator to fly a nonstop
transatlantic flight, or a flight across the Atlantic Ocean, and wanted to win.
• He rejected the idea that he needed a large plane with many engines, and
developed a very light single-engine craft with room for only one pilot.
• On May 21, 1927, Lindbergh succeeded by touching down in Paris, France
after a thirty-three-and-a-half-hour flight from New York.
• Lindbergh earned the name ―Lucky Lindy‖ and became the most beloved
American hero of the time.
• A little over a year after Lindbergh’s flight, Amelia Earhart became the first
woman to fly across the Atlantic, returning to the U.S. as a hero.
• She went on to set numerous speed and distance records as a pilot.
• In 1937 she was most of the way through a record-breaking flight around
the world when she disappeared over the Pacific Ocean.
Radio helped inflame the public passion for sports, and millions
of Americans tuned in to broadcasts of ballgames and prize
fights featuring their favorite athletes.
Helen Wills: Red Grange:
Played powerful tennis, winning 31 College football player who earned
major tournaments and two the nickname the ―Galloping Ghost‖
Olympic gold medals. Her nerves of for his speed. He turned
steel earned her the nickname professional after college, which
―Little Miss Poker Face.‖ was shocking at the time.
Babe Ruth: Bobby Jones:
Known as the ―Sultan of Swat,‖ Jones won golf’s first Grand Slam,
Ruth was legendary on the baseball meaning he won the game’s four
field for his home runs. His legend major tournaments, and remains
lives on today in baseball circles the only golfer to get a Grand Slam
and popular culture. for matches in one calendar year.
Arts of the 1920s
• The great economic and social changes of the 1920s offered novelists a
rich source of materials.
• F. Scott Fitzgerald helped create the flapper image, coined the term
the ―Jazz Age,‖ and explored the lives of the wealthy in The Great
Gatsby and other novels and stories.
• Sinclair Lewis wrote about the emptiness of middle-class life.
• Edna St. Vincent Millay wrote poems on topics ranging from
celebrations of youth to leading social causes of the day.
• Willa Cather and Edith Wharton produced notable works of literature.
• Ernest Hemingway and John Dos Passos were war veterans and, as
part of the so-called Lost Generation, wrote about war experiences.
• Gertrude Stein invented the term Lost Generation, referring to a
group of writers who chose to live in Europe after World War I.
• Bruce Barton’s novel compared Jesus to a modern business executive.
• George Gershwin was a composer best known for Rhapsody in Blue—
which showed the impact of jazz—as well as popular songs written with
his brother Ira.
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