African Americans Interpretations New Deal

  • Created by: Alasdair
  • Created on: 28-04-17 10:57
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  • African Americans and the New Deals interpretations
    • Context
      • The Great Depression had particularly affected rural S and its industries.
      • AAs benefited from general measures of President Roosevelt's New Deal and some specific reforms aimed at ending racial discrimination
    • Gains
      • AA Robert Weaver became Special Adviser on Economic Status of the ***** in 1934 and later head of influential Public Works Administration
        • His appointment led to grants of $45m to build schools, hospitals and homes for AAs
        • Unusually, there was provision made for certain number of AA workers in federal projects for house building
      • AAs benefited from poor relief and job creation projects administered by Federal Emergency Relief Administration from 1933-35 and then World Progress Administration, which followed in 1936.
        • Over 1/4 of million AAs were given literacy help via federal aid projects.
        • Employment training was also provided by National Youth Administration, which was advised by influential AA reformer, Mary McLeod Bethune.
      • Farm Security Administrators gave help to Southern AAs who were hit particularly hard by drop in food and raw material prices after 1929.
      • Roosevelt spoke out against lynchings though no law was passed against them.
        • There were also some appointments of African Americans to ND offices.
      • Defenders of ND's contribution to better race relations point to more of change in atmosphere towards civil rights than very dramatic civil rights legislation.
        • Eleanor Roosevelt supported AA organisations and openly disapproved of segregation.
        • Additionally, NAACP grew in membership in late 1930s
    • Limitations (many gains were countered with setbacks to progress of civil rights during this period)
      • Many poor sharecroppers could not pay rents.
        • Little was done for 200,000 who were evicted.
        • When federal programmes reduced crop production and paid farmers for not producing crops to maintain prices with reduced supply, there was often no money paid directly to poorer African American tenants.
      • AAs suffered disproportionately from unemployment.
      • Attempts to improve working conditions excluded groups where AA labour was most common - agricultural work and domestic service.
      • National Recovery Administration (NRA) attempted to establish fair rates of pay and better conditions, but did not encourage similar requirements in industrial N.
        • Regulations evaded many employers in S
      • Strengthening of unions by Wagner Act tended to ensure big employers used unionised labour - which acted against interests of AAs, who were often merely causal workers and were not members of unions in large numbers.
      • Social Security Act provisions did not apply to bulk of work done by AAs
      • Provision of work by Civilian Conservation Corps to help unemployed did offer some relief to AAs, but labour camps were segregated and type of work offered was not same
        • AA workers received worst and most poorly paid work.
        • Where AA and white workers were employed in federal projects like Tennessee Valley Dam, they were segregated to avoid racial tensions.
      • Roosevelt did not increase AA voting rights.


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