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The Walter White Project

Randy Stakeman, Jackson Stakeman, Authors

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New Deal Agencies and Race

Although Franklin D. Roosevelt's political considerations prevented much progress in decreasing legislative discrimination a little racial progress was made during the New Deal.  Some African Americans did benefit from the New Deal programs although not as many should have and not as much.  The rising tide did lift all boats though African Americans were still at the bottom of the economic system both before and after the New Deal. One legal historian believes that in both the executive branch and the judicial branch racial progress was made even though FDR was by no means a radical racial reformer.

After 1935 many New Deal agencies set up divisions of Negro affairs and hired Negroes to staff them. Many of the young Negroes like Robert Weaver, Ralph Bunche and William Hastie worked for the New Deal agencies.  These black staffers regularly met informally at the house of Mary McLeod Bethune and were nicknamed the "Black Cabinet."

The Works Project Administration even made a film about efforts to help African Americans to weather the Depression.
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