1929: Black and white relations in the South were stratified along racial lines. Education was officially segregated, with facilities for black and white children “separate but equal.” Today: In the urban South, many African Americans, as elsewhere in the United States, have gained economic and professional status. Poor blacks everywhere in America are experiencing poverty and poor education at record low levels. Education is supposedly integrated, but neighborhood racial patterns have worked against equalizing education.
1929: While the family structure was beginning to disintegrate because of social changes in the country, most families had two parents and extended families living close together was common. Today: The two-parent “nuclear” family structure has been shattered by high rates of divorce and remarriage. A relatively high percentage of children in the United States live in single-parent families.
1929: Creativity in the arts was flourishing in the United States. Reading novels and short stories was a major form of entertainment. Only a few writers were financially successful. Today: Much of the literary creativity of Americans has become channeled into team efforts for television sitcoms and dramatic serials. The novel is still a significant form of recreation, but the film has superseded the novel as the primary form for written creative expression. A few novelists write bestsellers which make lots of money, but writers for television and movies generally make more money than novelists or short-story writers.
1929: Illegitimate pregnancy among middle class women was a social disgrace that could lead to ostracism. Today: There is little stigma attached to unwed motherhood, at least for older women who are financially independent. Single women who want children become pregnant deliberately, either through artificial insemination or a relationship they do not wish to make permanent.
1929: Mental retardation was considered a curse and a burden that a family had to bear. Families felt ashamed and guilty when they had a retarded child. Today: The mentally impaired have many educational programs and opportunities to help them be productive and independent.