The “Happy Days” is the name given to the 1950s and 1960s and it was for some. America had just won World War II, and soldiers arrived home and were received with parades to honor them. Our military proved to be strong and we had the strongest economy in the world.
With the introduction of the G. I. Bill, a law that provided benefits for our veterans, more people were able to afford to buy a house, were given a year of unemployment compensation, and had a chance to get a higher education. There was a baby boom and a large expansion in the suburbs, and a very low unemployment rate. America’s future looked bright. However, we had the civil rights movement, there were issues with sexism and we had the Cold War. The 1950s and 1960s had plenty of conflict and were not happy days for many. During the 1950s and 1960s most of the south was still segregated and we were struggling with discrimination and violence due to race.
Several people came forward and spoke against inequality and Martin Luther King was one of those Civil Rights leaders, he believed in Militant nonviolence. He encourages marches, sit-ins and boycotts. He was eventually shot and killed outside his hotel room.
The civil rights movement challenged the Jim Crow Laws and many whites opposed it. Birmingham, Alabama became a focal point for many Americans during the civil rights movement because they refused to desegregate. They were known as Boomingham because of the constant bombing against African Americans. One example was the bombing of 16th Street were four young girls were killed after a bombing of their church. The church had been a location where blacks would start their marches. Many innocent lives were lost during this movement. During World War II, women had to fill the jobs men left behind so that they could go fight in the war, they helped America economy stay afloat. But soon after the war was over woman were encouraged to leave their jobs so that the veterans could come back to take their previous position and the women were to return to their homes.
After WWII women were expected to have babies, maintain a clean home and have dinner cooked for their husband. As if that wasn’t enough she had to be stylish while doing it. Some women continued to work after WWII but they were paid much less than men even if they were doing the same job and had the same responsibilities. Women did not have the same education opportunity as men because to many it was a waste of time, woman were expected to be marriage and have a family.
Newsweek Magazine discouraged woman from attending college stating, “books and babies don’t mix”. Sexism was a major problem in the 1950s, many had no problem with being a stay at home wife, but for others there was more out there than just have ten kids and a clean house. Another conflict that arose during this time was The Cold War with the Soviet Union. USSR was trying to expand communism and it created tension between the two countries.
President Truman did not want to go to war because of this so it was decided that our best defense against Russia would be containment, an effort to stop the spread of communism. America introduces the Truman Doctrine, which would give monetary gifts and military support to those who resisted communism. During the Cold war there were several events that occurred that brought us very close to World War III. One of those events was the Cuban missile crisis. An American spy plane had captured images of Russian missiles pointed towards America in Cuba. President Kennedy ordered a blockade around Cuba in hopes for Russia to back off.
For 13 days the nation lived in fear and eventually an agreement was reached between America and Russia. This was the closest the Soviet Union and America came to a nuclear war. The ‘Happy Days’ had so many conflicts and issues and many would agree with me that these days were infact the unhappy days. As I’m sure many would argue with me and state theses days were America’s best time. Economy was booming, babies were booming, and housing was booming. On the surface people would say America was living the American Dream.
However, if you looked beyond the cookie cutter houses you would see America’s flaws. Americans were fighting amongst themselves with segregration and racism. Woman were not treated equally to the men, they were expected to stay home and raise a family. America was living in constant fear because of Russian’s communism.
To live in hate and fear constantly I would have to disagree with the name given to the 1950s and 1960s.