No other group in the United States suffered as devastating consequences of the Great Depression as African Americans. While overall unemployment reached approximately a quarter of the labor force, for black workers, the rate was well over 5o%. Those who were able to find employment were excluded from better paying and more stable professions and usually held menial jobs, for which they were paid lower wages than their white fellow workers. The crisis in agriculture that began long before the onset of the Great Depression also greatly affected African Americans, many of whom still lived off the land, more often as sharecroppers and other tenants than landowners. Segregation was rampant, racial violence common (particularly in the South), and at the time when many white Americans struggled for survival, the struggled of black Americans only intensified (OpenStax. (2019).
Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s legacy in respect to black Americans remains ambiguous at best. As the 1932 presidential candidate, he embraced the segregationist stand of the Democratic party. Already as president, Roosevelt’s many critical decisions were driven by his need to please white Southerners, who held substantial power in Congress. He repeatedly refused to support of black communities were often influenced by Eleanor Roosevelt’s, who continued to push her husband to pay more attention to black leaders and needs of African Americans (OpenStax. (2019).
While the New deals was formally designed to benefit African Americans, some of its flagship programs, particularly those proposed during the first New Deal, either excluded African Americans or even hurt them. For example, the 1933 Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA) drove many black farmers from the land. As subsidies were paid to (usually white) landlords for not growing certain crops on a part of their land. Black (and white) sharecroppers and other tenants were the first victims of the policy (Fishback. (2016) The evicted farmers were often forced to migrate to northern cities as the southern countryside had no alternative to offer. The 1033 National Recovery Administration, the main First New Deal agency responsible for industrial recovery, had hardly anything to offer to African Americans as the National Industrial Recovery Act’s (NIRA) provisions covered the industries from which black workers were usually excluded. Neither farm nor domestic labor, two sectors where African Americans constituted substantial labor force, were covered under NIRA. Similarly, the original version (later amended) of the 1935 Social Security Act did not provide old-age pensions for farm and domestic workers, which automatically excluded a substantial number of senior African Americans. In the South, that number was nearly 40% (Fishback. (2016).
However, other New deal programs produced much more positive outcomes for African Americans. The New Deal agenda stipulated that up to 10% of all the programs’ beneficiaries must be African Americans (approximately equal to the rate of the black population in the United States). Black workers participated in all the major programs that created employment, including the Civilian Conservation Corps, the Public Works Administration, and the works progress Administration. Under the provisions of the latter, the youth coming from the families that had at least one member working for WPA also received support that allowed them to continue their high school or college education (Fishback. (2016).
African American participation in the New Deal work programs did not change rampant discrimination practices. Black workers were still delegated to the most menial jobs and largely segregated from white workers. When the economy began to row as a result of war-related demand, the situation did not alter. Although production intensified and industrial jobs began to mushroom, African American workers still received the lowest pay, held mostly unskilled jobs, and faced hostility from both employers and their white counterparts. In light of the lack of changes under the new economic reality, black leaders intensified their efforts to make sure that this time, African Americans would not be entirely excluded from emerging opportunities.
According to Fishback. (2016). the reason the New Deal effectively ended the great depression and restored the economy is because Roosevelts felt they knew what caused it. In knowing what caused the depression Roosevelt and his team of advisors created multiple solutions. “They believed that it was caused by abuses on the part of a small group of bankers and businessmen, aided by Republican policies that built wealth for a few at the expense of many.” To weed out the abuser they felt the answer was to do a banking reform. In addition, the tweaked the manufacture and utilization of farm and industrial goods. They wanted to increase the common people purchasing power and put regulation with National Recovery Administration (NRA) and Agriculture Adjustment Act (AAA). (2014)
OpenStax. (2019). U.S. history. OpenStax CNX. Retrieved from https://openstax.org/books/us-history/Links to an external site.
Fishback, Price. How Successful Was the New Deal? The Microeconomic Impact … Dec. 2017, newdeallegacy.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/jel.newdeal.fishback.2016.01.14.pdf.
Homeowners Loan Act
The 83 statement explains that as a part of the New Deal, Roosevelt’s congress passed this Act, which created a loan program called Homeowners Loan Corporations (HOLC). The group’s task was to refinance mortgages of people who were behind and at risk of losing their homes due to the market crash of 1929. These loans only applied to non-farm properties, not worth more than 20,000, or housed more than four families. The reason being the HOLC wanted to be able to provide affordable cash advances on their loans. HOLC would buy the mortgages from the bank with the government bonds and created a new loan with the people. With these new loans, there was a more extended payoff period making it easier for people to pay. By 1934 one in five mortgages was retained by HOLC. ( 2001).
Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
Wilmsen explains that FLSA created an eight-hour workday and a forty-hour workweek and still allowed overtime but an extra wage. All workers were provided a minimum wage, and overtime was to be time and a half of regular pay. Under 18, a person could not do specific jobs, but under 16, you could not work manufacturing or mining and not during school hours. However, this Act did not cover all jobs like seasonal, executives, and other groups if it covered most working classes. This Act gave advantages to more than 700,000 workers. (2019).
Consider workers, immigrants, and African Americans. Explain how the New Deal represented minorities.
Corbett explains that Franklin Roosevelt Early intentions were for all Americans to profit from the new deal. As time pressed forward, it seemed that Roosevelt looked to only please the whites of the south. He refused to support anti-lynching and ignored their civil rights struggles. Some of the new deal acts were excluded from African Americans. For example, the Agricultural Act drove many blacks’ farmers from their lands due to grants being paid to whites first. His wife, Eleanor Roosevelt who pushed her husband into paying more attention to the African American. Overall, African Americans were represented in the new deal. (2014).
Analyze to what extent you think the New Deal effectively ended the Great Depression and restored the economy.
According to Corbett, the new deal effectively ended the great depression and restored the economy because Roosevelt felt they knew what caused it. In understanding what caused the depression, Roosevelt and his team of advisors created multiple solutions. “They thought that it was caused by abuses on the part of a small group of bankers and businessmen, aided by Republican policies that built prosperity for a few at the expense of many.” To weed out the abuser, they felt the answer was to do a banking reform. Also, they tweaked the manufacture and utilization of farm and industrial goods. They wanted to increase the familiar people purchasing power and put regulation with the National Recovery Administration (NRA) and Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA). ( 2014).
83 Statement on Signing the Homeowners Loan Act Is Signed. June 13, 1933. (2001). American Reference Library – Primary Source Documents, 1. Retrieved from https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=f5h&AN=32346568&site=eds-live&scope=site
Corbett, P. S., Janssen, V., Lund, J. M., Pfannestiel, T., & Vickery, P. (2014). U.S. History. Retrieved from https://d3bxy9euw4e147.cloudfront.net/oscms-prodcms/media/documents/USHistory-OP_IdjNctE.pdf
Wilmsen, A. M. (2019). A Fair Day’s Pay: The Fair Labor Standards Act and Unpaid Internships at Non-Profit Organizations. ABA Journal of Labor & Employment Law, 34(1), 131–159. Retrieved from https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=bth&AN=139357174&site=eds-live&scope=site