Civil Rights in the 1920s Essay
The source being discussed in this paper is the one that stood out the most to me.
It documents Marcus Garvey’s speech he delivered at Liberty hall on November 2nd 1922. In his speech he is calling all the Negroes of America to not stand for the repression and racism that was running rampant through America at that time. It is an interesting and important read because his ideals and actions he wanted to put in place were much more radical than others of his time.
Most of the activists for black rights at the time were arguing for more equality and less racial barriers. Garvey thought this was just a way to silently live under the white man’s shadow, instead he proposed for the exodus of black people from all different sects of the world back to their homeland, Africa. This speech was during many historical events in American History. This was the “Roaring Twenties”, a time where the economy was thriving from the First World War.The decade may not have seemed too great at first, with the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution coming into effect outlawing the ‘manufacture, sale or transportation of intoxicating liquors’ (Palmer, 7-8).
Though the prohibition was ridiculed by many different parties the overall mood of the decade could not be brought down. The war was over and many families were reunited again. Patriotic feelings were obvious in the masses and the people as a nation had a new sense of pride being one of the strongest countries in the world.The start of the decade also brought with it the election of a new president. The two candidates were Warren G. Harding for the Republican nominee and James A.
Cox for the Democratic nominee. Harding proved to be the superior politician with his talk of normalcy, a chance to repair economic damage and make rational choices for the new decade, for the nation (Palmer, 25-26). Harding put a beating on Cox in the booths and became the next president. By the end of his first year in office it seemed as though Harding’s plan for normalcy was reaching its goal.A couple years later Harding passed away and the presidency was passed down to Calvin Coolidge. Coolidge was almost the antithesis of Harding, whereas Harding was expansive in manner and appearance, Coolidge was thin quiet and irritable (Palmer, 102-103). Though Coolidge was deemed unlikely to win at his own election, the Democratic parties were so divided and split over different policies and ideas that Coolidge snuck by and kept his grip on the presidency.
Other than political changes going on there were also many cultural changes.These times were an era of great artistic expression and produced arguably some of the best authors for decades to come. F.
Scott Fitzgerald released The Great Gatsby in 1925, which remains one of the most critically acclaimed novels to ever be written. The Harlem Renaissance was in full swing during this decade and helped to give African Americans a new voice and sense of equality. From paintings and poetry to music a sense of pride was harbored in the African American population. In light of this, Garvey’s speech was not taken too well by many.They did not want to come so far and work so hard for rights only to go back to a third world country that they were no more a part of than any other American. The 1920’s was a time when many new and often thought to be eccentric ideas were presented. The flapper girl is one of the best examples of this and of the 1920s.
The Ku Klux Klan, a white supremacy group, was formed during this decade as well. It was rumored to have up to 3 or 4 million men in the organization when it was at its prime. This was another topic that split the democrats in the south also.