Sat, Aug 26 at 7 p.m. | 90 minutes
The United States experienced the highest standard of living of any nation in the history of human civilization in the 1950s. But the decade wasn't golden for everyone.
For at least forty years, dozens upon dozens of office seekers have been arguing that contemporary America is a shadow of her former self. That we’ve gone off course somehow. That we’ve lost sight of something as a people. That things used to be much much better. This Golden Age everyone’s talking about – they mean the 1950s. And in many ways they’re not wrong.
The United States experienced the highest standard of living of any nation in the history of human civilization in the 1950s. Homeownership skyrocketed. Science and technology were brimming with innovation. An entire generation of working class Americans went to college for the first time at little to no cost, and when they graduated they found a robust job market waiting for them.
But the 1950s weren’t golden for everyone. Racial and gender discrimination surged. One-fifth of the nation still lived below the poverty line. And all the while the stage was being set for the tumultuous and divisive decade that would follow it. This Olio creates a conversation around key developments in the history of 1950s America. Topics will include the rise of television, the GI Bill, suburbanization, the baby boom, the Cold War, the early civil rights movement, and a thorough re-examination of popular claims that the decade was America’s Golden Age.
**Live music from Jeremy Bacon, sampling genres from the 50's to follow this Olio**
Lawrence Cappello is a Professor of Constitutional History at the University of Alabama and the author of None of Your Damn Business: Privacy in the United States from the Gilded Age to the Digital Age. His essays have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, and The Nation. He was recently profiled by The Economist.