From the 1920s - a decade marked by racism and nativism - through World War II, hundreds of thousands of Americans took part in a vibrant campaign to overcome racial, ethnic, and religious prejudices. They celebrated the 'cultural gifts' that immigrant and minority groups brought to society, learning that ethnic identity could be compatible with American ideals. Diana Selig tells the neglected story of the cultural gifts movement, which flourished between the world wars. Progressive activists encouraged pluralism in homes, schools, and churches across the country. Countering racist trends and the melting-pot theory of Americanization, they championed the idea of diversity. They incorporated new thinking about child development, race, and culture into grassroots programs - yet they were unable to address the entrenched forms of discrimination and disfranchisement faced by African Americans in particular. This failure to grasp the deep social and economic roots of prejudice ultimately limited the movement's power.
In depicting a vision for an inclusive American identity from a diverse citizenry, "Americans All" is a timely reminder of the debates over difference and unity that remain at the heart of American society.
Diana Selig is Associate Professor of History, Claremont McKenna College.
* List of Illustrations* * Acknowledgments * Introduction: Cultural Pluralism in Interwar America *1. Searching for the Origins of Prejudice *2. Parent Education and the Teaching of Tolerance *3. Cultural Gifts in the Schools *4. Religious Education and the Teaching of Goodwill *5. A New Generation in the South *6. Cultural Pride and the Second Generation *7. Prejudice and Social Justice *8. Pluralism in the Shadow of War * Epilogue: The Fall and Revival of Cultural Gifts * Notes * Bibliography * Index ** Illustrations: * Children at the Bailly Branch of the Gary Public Library, Indiana * Clara Savage Littledale *"Teach Your Child Tolerance," 1934 *"Things for Them to Do," 1935 * Rachel Davis DuBois * Students in Fort Lee, New Jersey, present information on black history * Students in New York exhibiting Jewish ceremonial objects * Everett Clinchy * The first goodwill tour, 1933 * Will Alexander * Charles Johnson * Students recreating a Mexican market * A third-grade class performing Italian folk songs and dances * Fourth-graders modeling Africa in sand * Alain Locke * Cover from Americans All, Immigrants All * Illustrated map from Americans All, Immigrants All