Did people of the black community experience the great depression differently?

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marbar57 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Everyone in the United States was affected by The Great Depression, but the black rural community suffered the worst.  Not only was the black community still subject to racism and Black Jim Crow Laws, but the whites who became unemployed started to take over the jobs previously held only by the blacks.  White unemployment was 30%; black unemployment was even worse at 50%. 

Because of the terrible unemployment, blacks could barely survive.  Already at or below poverty level, the economic situation of the 1930's exacerbated their situation.  Many of them lost their homes (if they previously had any) and lived in cardboard shanties on the outskirts of towns, or in railroad cars by the side of the tracks, or just out in the open.  All they had was the clothes on their backs, they had no sanitation, and many of them didn't know where their next meal was going to come from.  Disease was rampant and death frequent. And to top it off, persecution from groups like the Ku Klux Clan made matters even worse.  It was a desperate situation.

Slowly, about 1932, the President's wife, Eleanor Roosevelt, started to become aware of the black's situation, she started a reform, and things started to improve for them.  Relief organizations and the federal government stepped in to help with programs that provided jobs, food, clothing, housing, and education.  This almost coincided with the gradual turnaround and upswing of the nation's economy and its rise out of the depression.