Visions Of Freedom And Liberty

In the 1920s and 1930s, visions of freedom and liberty in America were seen to be more prevalent than ever before. Freedom is something that is wanted by everyone at all times, but it never comes easy. There are a lot of complications and issues that arise before freedom is attained. When we talk about freedom, it could be either national freedom or personal freedom from an individual or a group of people. Liberty and freedom, both mean the same thing which is independence or freeness from people or a nation. The vision of freedom and liberty in the 1920s and 1930s came through a fair amount of different events. Some of these events included immigration, women suffrage, the great migration, rise in the economy, etc. Well-known individuals and group of people worked hard in order to attain freedom and liberty in America, especially for the immigrants, African Americans and the women. Most of it worked in their favor, and they achieved the freedom and liberty they were looking for.

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From 1890 to 1930, many of the immigrants came to United States in order to look for freedom and new opportunities. “America was growing rapidly and the population doubled from 1890 to 1930” (Lecture notes 3/27/19). During World War I, “America backed away from its earlier commitments to the free flow of people. Anti-immigrant sentiment had led to a literacy test for immigrants and wartime conditions had sharply curtailed the influx for foreigners” (Rosenzweig, Lichtenstein, Brown, Jaffee, 342). Literacy test basically meant that if you are 16 years or older you should be able to read English or your native language; it excluded a lot of immigrants to enter United States. After the end of the war, immigration returned to previous levels. The Quota Act and the Immigration Act put a lot of restrictions on immigrants and limited the amount and type of immigrants who could move to United States. Besides the restrictions, the immigrants who were able to move to America were able to find a place to live and had a job in order to survive. Mexican immigrants “headed for jobs in industrial cities of the East and Midwest” (Rosenzweig et al. , 343). Another important event that furthered the idea of freedom was The Great Migration. Americans all over the country started moving from countryside to the cities. Black Americans started moving up North; “White people in North didn’t favor slavery, but they didn’t favor black people either” (Lecture notes 4/3/19). It made African Americans’ lives easier compared to the South. It wasn’t always easy for them to leave the South, but most of them managed to escape. “Black Americans had plenty of reasons to leave the rural South; disfranchisement, segregation, poverty, racial violence, lack of educational opportunities, the drudgery of farm life, and just the daily indignities of living under the Jim Crow laws” (Rosenzweig et al, 297). “The farmers were having a rough time due to Boll Weevil, which was a type of bug that fed on cotton crops and also due to the damage caused by the floods; farmers didn’t have any access to the insecticides that were needed to kill the bugs while they were devastating all the cotton patches” (Lecture notes 4/3/19). The hardships in the South accelerated the migration of African Americans especially the rural farmers.

During the 1920s and 1930s, women in America saw a change in their lifestyle and attained political liberty. “The 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote and prohibited legal discrimination between men and women” (Lecture notes 3/6/19). According to Elsie Hill, “The campaign of the National Women’s Party to remove the discriminations against women in the laws of United States is but the beginning of its determined effort to secure the freedom of the women, an integral part of the struggle for human liberty for which women are first of all responsible” (Freedom and liberty documents, 155). Every well-known individual like Hill had different definitions of freedom and liberty for women in United States. Women started seeing their life change; “they can go buy their own clothes, supermarkets became a new thing” (Lecture notes 4/3/19) which made women’s lives easier because they could do their own grocery shopping at one place. It also allowed them to go out and find jobs on their own. “Women also started having more job opportunities in this time period especially when men went to war” (Lecture 8 notes). Women’s participation in public and political movements was central to the development of Progressivism. Female activism grew significantly and women started focusing on more important issues. “Progressive causes and organizations were identified with women leaders, who despite or really because of their exclusion from electoral politics – created associations seeking actions on issues of pressing concern such as health, child care and public morality” (Rosenzweig et al,228). Women definitely struggled a lot, but they put in a great deal of effort in improving labor conditions for women, and also ending child labor. “Women generally did not have the option of combining careers with family life, instead they eschewed family in order to forge new careers for women” (Rosenzweig et al,229). It opened up a lot of opportunities for women in the real world, and their status in the society changed permanently.

African American individuals and group of people started creating organizations and movements so as to attain freedom and liberty in America during the 1920s and 1930s. After the great depression, they began to realize they had to move out of the South in order to attain freedom. It was difficult for African American farmers in the South because, “they suffered from overexpansion and debt” (Rosenzweig et al, 343). It is one of the most important reasons why they decided to escape the South and look for other opportunities. In the beginning, African Americans had no political rights. Black women started playing a huge role in improving their communities. “They organized in their communities and went downtown to interact with white officials and bureaucrats. And they campaigned for temperance” (Rosenzweig et al, 235). They also started building private institutions and lobbied for better sanitation. Individuals like Marcus Garvey also played an important role in improving African Americans lives in United States. “He was determined to help black people and unify them across the world and become their leader. He also set out separate buildings for black businesses. He believed that white people took advantage of black people because black people are not united amongst themselves. He held the international convention of The Universal Negro Improvement Association in New York City” (Lecture notes 4/10/19). National Negro Congress was created that will be “composed of delegates representing all Negro organizations, and such other organizations- mixed or white as will take a stand for equal rights for the Negro” (Freedom and liberty documents, 258). They believed they could create a nationwide impact about the situation of African Americans. The National Negro Congress was trying to accomplish unity of action in the existing organizations.

Immigrants, women and Black Americans struggled in order to gain freedom and liberty but some of them were able to make it through everything. Freedom is something that everyone wants but it is not something easy to achieve. People have had the visions of freedom and liberty since the colonial days but it became more prevalent during the 1920s and 1930s. 1920 in America was a year full of economic prosperity; businesses were booming and everyone’s life was changing drastically. Immigration and chain migration were also very important ways in which people found their freedom. Women also saw drastic changes in their lifestyles; they also got the right to vote due to the 19th Amendment. Even though women had the right to vote, not all black women had that right. African American women still did everything in their power in order to change their society and make it stronger.

31 October 2020

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