- 1930s: Schools and
most other public facilities across the South are segregated by race.
1956: The University of Alabama expels its first black student in defiance of a federal court order; Southern congressmen issue a manifesto pledging to use “all lawful means” to defy desegregation.
Today: Schools and public facilities are open to all regardless of race, but economic inequality is still seen by some as a barrier to full integration.
- 1930s: The first
“talkie” was produced in 1928; a few years later all films have sound.
Elaborately staged musicals become one of the movie industry’s most
1956: As a result of the country’s rising prosperity following World War II, television is introduced to many homes, providing cheap, nearly endless entertainment. Movie attendance falls by millions, and many theaters close. The industry fights back by developing thousands of drive-in movie theaters.
Today: New forms of mass media include cable television and the Internet.
- 1930s: At the
height of the Depression unemployment is nearly 25%. President Franklin
Roosevelt attempts to stimulate economic growth through his New Deal
1956: Post-war prosperity makes the United States a dominant world power. President Eisenhower warns of the “military-industrial complex” at the heart of the country’s economy, but government continues to expand.
1990s: Both Democrats and Republicans proclaim an end to the era of big government, but true economic and social reforms are slow to impact people’s lives.
- 1930s: Fascist
dictatorships and militant nationalists gain power in Europe as the Great
Depression throws countries into economic and social turmoil.
1956: The fear of communism fuels the Cold War. The arms race escalates, and Soviet Premier Nikita Khruschev tells the U.S. government, “History is on our side. We will bury you!”
1990s: Communist regimes in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union have been replaced by democratic-style governments. China, the last significant communist power, enacts many capitalist reforms.
- “The Thanksgiving Visitor,” a 1968 story also by Capote, is a companion piece to “A Christmas Memory” and recounts further adventures of Buddy and his friend Sook, as well as Buddy’s run-in with Odd Henderson, the town bully.
- Capote’s novel The Grass Harp (1951) tells the story of a band of social outcasts, including a young boy and his older female relative, who disrupt their complacent community when they retreat to the woods and begin living in a treehouse.
- Carson McCullers’s Ballad of the Sad Cafe (1936) is the story of Cousin Lyman, a traveling hunchback dwarf who brings excitement to a lonely Southern town when Miss Amelia falls in love with him and follows his suggestion to open a cafe.
- Black Boy is Richard Wright’s 1941 autobiographical novel, which vividly describes his harsh, hardscrabble boyhood and youth in rural Mississippi and Memphis, Tennessee. The book is a coming-of-age story that details how Wright worked to realize his dream of being a writer despite the constraints placed upon him by a racist society.
- Let Us Now Praise Famous Men (1941) is a nonfiction chronicle of the daily lives of Depression-era tenant farmers in rural Alabama with black-and-white photographs by Walker Evans and accompanying text by James Agee.
- Paper Moon, is a novel by Joe David Brown about a Depression-era traveling Bible salesman and the hassles he experiences when he is saddled with caring for his precocious daughter. Also filmed in 1973 under the same title; directed by Peter Bogdanovich and starring Ryan and Tatum O’Neal.
- John Dufresne’s 1994 novel Louisiana Power and Light is a comical send-up of the Southern Gothic tradition and revolves around the adventures of Moon Pie Fontana, a physically disabled child-star radio evangelist, and his family down in the Delta.