The passage of the Woman Suffrage amendment to the US Constitution and the founding of the League of Women Voters in 1920 kicked off a decade of dramatic and often contradictory events which eventually became known as the “Roaring Twenties.” Prohibition made the production, sale, and consumption of alcohol illegal – which paradoxically led to widespread turmoil as criminalizing alcohol led to the takeover of the alcohol industry by criminals. Meanwhile, new intersections of art, commerce, education, and technology like moving pictures, jazz music, automobiles, and airplanes made for dramatic upheavals in social norms and accepted behavior, especially in relation to issues of race and gender. In the last year of the Roaring Twenties, the stock market crashed and ushered in the Great Depression – the worst economic calamity in several generations.
The Roaring Twenties were not called the Roaring Twenties until the middle of the decade, when it became clear what a roaring upheaval was actually going on. Here at Our Better Angels, despite the calamities and struggles of the Covid 19 pandemic and extreme political partisanship, we hope to contribute to a soaring rise of the human spirit over the coming decade. Thus we are dubbing it “The Soaring Twenties.” People living in the Roaring Twenties eventually recognized what a roaring drama was unfolding; by contrast, the Soaring Twenties is a prediction, a forecast, and a metaphor based on our faith in the human spirit, in the promise of democratic governance, and in the capacity for future generations to learn from the experience and wisdom of our ancestors and ourselves.