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Actually, the New Deal was virtually no help to African Americans who were hit hard by the Great Depression. Franklin Roosevelt is still a hero to many Black Americans, although the reason why is hard to understand. Roosevelt did not want to offend southern Congressmen, and for that reason adamantly refused to deal with the race issue. A number of ways in which the New Deal utterly failed Black Americans:
- Domestic and migrant workers were excluded from Social Security. Most of these workers were minorities, particularly Blacks.
- Both the CCC and TVA were segregated on the basis of race. Blacks in the CCC were required to live in separate camps, work on separate jobs, and normally paid less than white workers.
- The Agricultural Adjustment Act paid farmers to leave one fourth of their land fallow. As a general rule, the land left fallow had previously been worked by Black sharecroppers. The large farm interests were thus paid by the government to dispossess Black workers. Over 200,000 Black workers were dispossessed while their landlords profited from having their land taken out of production.
- The Federal Housing Administration would not guarantee loans for Blacks if the home purchased was in a Black neighborhood, effectively enforcing housing discrimination.
- Farm workers, many of whom were Black, were not protected under the National Labor Relations Act.
It is thus safe to say that the Roosevelt Administration effectively ignored the plight of Black Americans for purely political purposes. It would be beyond naive to assume that the Administration did not know beforehand the effects of its actions. Rather it chose to ignore the consequences for Black Americans.
In general, the New Deal failed African Americans by not treating them the same as whites were treated. It did so even though African Americans were hurt worse by the Depression than whites were.
The New Deal programs were run by white government officials in the various areas of the country. This meant that, in many places, they were being run by racist officials. This helped bring about a situation in which, for example, many jobs dominated by blacks were not covered by the NRA's rules and programs like the TVA and the CCC tended to refuse to enroll blacks, particularly in good jobs.
The New Deal (and particularly the Second New Deal) was not a total failure for African Americans. It did do some things to help them. However, it still failed them in that it did not treat them as equal to whites.
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