The Okie’s Impact

In James Gregory’s essay “Dust Bowl Legacies: The Okie Impact on California 1939-1989”, he talks about John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, and he states that Steinbeck could not have ever thought that the poor Okies like the Joad’s could influence California in a big way.

Country music, the biggest impact the Southwesterners left on California.


Gregory states how people like Merle Haggard was one of the “catalysts” to push people to begin embracing their Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, and Missouri origins. Gregory says that “Hollywood began importing professional musicians from the Southwest” and 30 years later their still doing it. Or at least I think they are.

Because one time when I was watching Disney Channel I saw a segment where this girl was talking about her country singing career. And I’m pretty sure Disney is located in mainly California and Florida. So the likely hood that she’s based in California is pretty and. The Okie’s country music is still a big hit today. Even that girl on the Disney Channel Radio Country segment said that she wanted to make a big impact on people with her country lyrics; and she’s proud of being a country artist.

To be honest, before reading the essay I didn’t think the Okie’s had such a big impact on California and how it is today. I found the Okie Pride movement to be similar to the Gay Pride movement. It all starts the same way, people discriminate against people who are different from them and call them derogatory names and treat them badly. And with the Okies they created a “separate group mentality”. Through music the Okies realized that they should be proud of their ancestors origins.


The LGBTQ+ movement is important to me because I think that people should be able to love who they want to love and should not be discriminated against for. Especially since one of my closest friends considers herself bisexual, gay, queer, etc. And Okie pride is important to me too because  I feel like so many teenagers and kids today don’t embrace their culture enough.

Or at least their parent’s or grandparent’s culture. Because some people might be afraid to say that their parent’s are from say, Ghana because they don’t want to be bullied. But I feel like they should be proud that they have Ghanan heritage because that’s unique to them. And so I think that, that’s how maybe Okie teenagers felt and just wanted to fit into Californian society without any trouble. But with Merle Haggard and later on other Okie pride artists being an Okie became “acceptable, almost fashionable”.

Which, going back to the Gay pride movement, is very similar to that. Because with the Bay Area being the start of the movement and San Francisco being a major spot where there are Gay Pride marches annually, it’s an outlet for the LGBTQ+ community to show the world that they are proud of who they are.


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