To what extent did minorities receive a New Deal in the 1930’s?
When the depression started all segments of society where hurt. It
is said that those at the bottom are the worst off when this type of
collapse occurs. In America’s case this meant African Americans,
Native Americans and Women. Would they receive a New Deal too?
I. Minorities and the New Deal
A. What problems were faced by African Americans
during the 1930’s?
1. Economic deterioration of cities led to Black
workers being pushed out in favor of White workers or just plain
being the first to be fired. Since African Americans had moved to
the cities later (Progressive Era migration) they were the “last
hired, first fired.”
2. Agricultural collapse in the South led to virtual destruction
of the tenant farming system.
3. Ghettos turned into slums as funding stopped coming into inner
city Black communities. Harlem, a thriving cultural center in the
twenties, was decimated.
4. Black colleges stopped receiving white philanthropy.
5. Continuing discrimination, Jim Crow as well as segregation in
the North, led to Blacks being fired and generally horrible
conditions. Educational and economic opportunities were even more
limited than they were before.
B. How did the New Deal hurt African Americans?
1. At first it hurt – Federal Housing Agency stopped
black from moving into white neighborhoods and some public works
projects refused to hire blacks.
2. AAA pushed African Americans off their farms because it paid
the White landowners not to grow food. When they received this money
they dismissed many tenant farmers and workers. Recipients of AAA
money were supposed to share with their Black workers but the reality
is that this wasn’t done.
3. Social Security left out blacks because it was only those who
worked and paid FICA tax into the system would get out of the system.
Since many African Americans either worked “off the books” or for
cash they never paid in and thus never received Social Security.
C. How did the New Deal help African Americans?
1. Federal relief programs provided massive amounts of
aid to Blacks and Whites alike.
2. Jobs – WPA developed a non discrimination policy.
3. African American Governors were consulted by FDR. This group
of Black political leaders became known as the Black Cabinet. Blacks
were later appointed to the Cabinet, an American first.
4. Eleanor Roosevelt championed the rights of African Americans.
- Marian Anderson concert that had been rejected by Daughters of
the American Revolution to play in Constitutional Hall was allowed
to play at the Lincoln Memorial.
D. How did other groups fare during the New Deal?
1. Women – Frances Perkins – Cabinet Member, others
made continuing strides; Amelia Earhardt – aviator, Joan Crawford,
Bette Davis, Margaret Mitchell – all actresses (Gone With The Wind.)
were national celebrities.
2. Mexican Americans – Dust bowl, aided somewhat by CCC and WPA
but most who were migrant farm workers didn’t qualify because they
did not have permanent addresses.