At first glance, the decade of the 1950s appears
an age of innocence sandwiched between the hard years of World War II
and the political and social revolutions of the 1960s. The decade seems
a clean, simple and happy time.
and shopping malls, access to cars, and televisions became part of
everyday life. The state was alive with growth and prosperity.
Young people enjoyed roller skating and soda fountains. Mom
returned home after years of war-related work. The state’s business
and industry thrived during the 1950s.
|Closer examination brings an understanding that the
decade really had undercurrents of the unrest that would surface in
the 1960s. It was a decade of growth and prosperity for some, but
not for all. It was a time of questioning long-held beliefs and
the national and international front, The Korean War (1950-1953) is
probably the best illustration the tensions of the Cold War world.
Political and economic tensions between the democratic west
including Western Europe and the United States, and the communist
bloc countries of Eastern Europe dominated international affairs.
Many believed that the Soviet Union was developing the hydrogen
bomb. That bomb’s capacity for destruction loomed large in the
hearts and minds of people as international politics came into homes
through radio and television. Tension entered people’s lives in the
form of bomb shelters built in public places, and in some homes.
Russia’s Sputnik, and the American space program, NASA, with their
feverish and exciting race to the moon was another manifestation of
Cold War tensions.
to home, racial discrimination became intolerable to some. For
them, it was time to question the legality of segregation in the
courts. In 1954 Delawareans helped lead the way supplying two local
cases to the larger Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of
Education. Delaware’s first African-American member of the
state bar, Lewis Redding, joined the panel of lawyers arguing at the
Supreme Court. Segregation was struck down. Throughout the
remainder of the decade, the schools and later all public places
opened their doors to African-American and whites alike. The social
revolution had begun.
Take a look at a decade that seems at once both in
peace and in turmoil.
to see photographs from the collections of the library of the Historical
Society of Delaware, giving us a glimpse into the decade of the Fabulous
© 2006 Delaware Historical Society
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