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Blacks During The Great Depression

Page history last edited by PBworks 16 years, 2 months ago

It was extremely difficult for a large part of the population to make a living during the depression. Living conditions were terrible and people lived in extreme poverty. While these conditions affected all contributors of society, there is very little known about how African Americans survived during the depression.  Though life was obviously considerably harder for African-Americans living in urban areas. However, there were many African-Americans who continued to work doing hard manual labor or working in areas inherently dangerous such as in factories, while others worked as domestic servants for white folks. A smaller number worked for the railroads, steel mills, coal mines, school boards, etc. There were some enterprising African-Americans who made a fairly reasonable living operating small businesses.

By 1932, approximately half of black Americans were out of work. In some Northern cities, whites called for blacks to be fired from any jobs as long as there were whites out of work. Racial violence again became more common, especially in the South. Lynchings, which had declined to 8in 1932, surged to 28 in 1933. 


Jim Crow was the name of the racial caste system which operated primarily, but not exclusively in southern and border states, between 1877 and the mid-1960s. Jim Crow was more than a series of rigid anti-Black laws. It was a way of life. Under Jim Crow, African Americans were relegated to the status of second class citizens. Jim Crow represented the legitimization of anti-Black racism. Many Christian ministers and theologians taught that Whites were the Chosen people, Blacks were cursed to be servants, and God supported racial segregation.











According to historian John Hope Franklin, many African Americans were excited by the way Roosevelt began tackling the problems of the Depression and gained "a sense of belonging they had never experienced before" from his fireside chats. Still, discrimination occurred in New Deal housing and employment projects, and President Roosevelt, for political reasons, did not back all of the legislation favored by such groups as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 8802, stating that all persons, regardless of race, creed, color, or national origin, would be allowed to participate fully in the defense of the United States.

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