Cultural Confrontations of the 1920’s: KKK, Scopes Trial Essay

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Cultural Confrontations of the 1920’s
The 1920s were a time of change for the United States. Following the First World War there was a rush of new cultural, social, and artistic dynamism, partly fuelled by the Progressivism movement that was cut short when American entered the Great War. This decade was defined by a change from more rural farm life to industrialism in big cities. The shift from the frugality and traditional family values or previous generations to the happy-go-lucky consumerism and metropolitan life occurred more rapidly than any other social shift in living memory. These swiftly changing tides caused cultural clashes and confrontations throughout the decade as America struggled to define for itself a fresh national
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The KKK adopted anti-Jewish, anti-Catholic, and anti-Immigration stances in addition to their longstanding anti-African-American beliefs. Before long, the Klan had amassed a membership of nearly 500,000 and lynching became commonplace. In many areas the Klan became a powerful political force, pushing for better roads, more funding for public schools, and great anti-immigration laws. Many Klan members were poor whites who wanted some way to protect their jobs from the many European immigrants who were moving to the cities. However, the turnover rate for membership was about 15% as people joined and realized the full extent of what they had agreed to do, and quit. Despite the Klan’s vast membership, not all Americans supported their activities. The conflict surrounding race relations in the 1920s would be hard to conquer, but the Progressive movement still had some momentum from prewar years, and it memory of its optimism had not completely died during the war. Reinhold Niebuhr was the American-born son of a German immigrant from Missouri. Niebuhr became a Protestant minister and became a prominent figure of resistance to the Klu Klux Klan. In a sermon that was published on the front page of the Detroit Times and the Free Press Niebuhr urged voters to vote against the Protestant candidate that was openly endorsed by the Klan. Niebuhr called the KKK “One of the worst social phenomena of our time” even while recognizing that the Klan stemmed from his own
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