The Great Depression

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To what degree did the Great Depression change the lives of farmers, minorities, and women?

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Farmers suffered tremendously during the Great Depression, which actually began in the farming sector long before anywhere else. Falling farm prices meant that many farmers could no longer afford to pay mortgages, and many saw their homes foreclosed upon by banks. Farm failures were a daily occurrence during the Depression,...

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Farmers suffered tremendously during the Great Depression, which actually began in the farming sector long before anywhere else. Falling farm prices meant that many farmers could no longer afford to pay mortgages, and many saw their homes foreclosed upon by banks. Farm failures were a daily occurrence during the Depression, which is one reason why one of Franklin Roosevelt's first priorities in the New Deal was to help farmers with farm ownership and to stabilize crop prices through the Agricultural Adjustment Act. Minorities, like African Americans, saw their already limited economic opportunities diminished by the Depression. Like small farm owners, many black tenant farmers and sharecroppers lost their lands in the South. African-American factory workers were often the first to face layoffs as businesses struggled, and the unemployment rate among black men was nearly twice what it was among whites. Economic tensions led to social ones, and violence against African Americans surged in the South during the depths of the Depression. African Americans often experienced discrimination from New Deal programs, and Roosevelt consistently avoided alienating white southern supporters by pushing for racial justice. Many working women faced transparent discrimination, as they were specifically barred from taking certain jobs that were deemed appropriate for men. This had long been the case, but amid widespread job losses, the idea of female breadwinners was anathema to working class men. Obviously, most women married to men who lost their jobs suffered, as they faced the challenge of holding together a household without steady income.

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