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From the Jazz Age to the Uprisings of the 1930sIn most of our textbooks, the 1920s and the 1930s are the most mythologized years of thetwentieth century. While it is true that the 1920s were a “roaring” good time for some people, itis equally true that the decade was bleak for many others. The reality is that the 1920s was adecade of sharp contrasts, in which social liberalism was counterbalanced by social conservatism,conspicuous consumer consumption was also characterized by materialistic excess, andcorporations and skilled workers became increasingly prosperous at the same time that unskilledworkers and farmers plunged into poverty and despair. There were plenty of social, political, andeconomic warning signs that all was not well, but those in power ignored them until theeconomic realities exploded into the stock market crash and the Great Depression.The 1930s are also mythologized in our traditional discussions of the era. Indeed, while we seethe government come to the aid of many Americans during this period, we must also note thatFranklin Delano Roosevelt’s (FDR) New Deal largely focused on recovery and relief measures—measures that helped corporations, labor unions, and organized farm groups, but did little tomeet the needs of ordinary hard-working Americans. As Howard Zinn points out, FDR made theDepression bearable for some, but he did not make it go away. When our students listen carefullyto the voices from the 1920s and 1930s, they hear tragic stories of desperate and angry peoplewho have experienced broken dreams and hearts, have been dispossessed of all they hold dearand have resisted conservative government responses at a time when radical measures wereneeded. And when they hear these voices, our students break through the mythology of the era