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1.) What effect did the World War II wartime experience have on African Americans? Did their experiences help or hinder the progress toward equality in America? How were they treated during World War II? Did the government take any steps to ease discrimination against African Americans in war industries?

2.) How did the war change African American attitudes towards their status in American society? How did it change their aspirations?

3.) How did the rhetoric of World War II bring the contradiction between the principle of equal freedom and the actual status of blacks to the forefront of national life? One black woman said about the war that it was Hitler that got blacks out of the white folks’ kitchen. How did they “move out of the kitchen” and what forces were behind those achievements?

4.) How did the Double V campaign spark a civil rights movement? How successful was the Double V campaign?

5.) Did World War II redraw the boundaries of American citizenship? Compare the experiences of blacks during World War I and during World War II.

6.) Franklin D. Roosevelt said that to be an American has always been a “matter of mind and heart,” and “never . . . a matter of race or ancestry.” Was this true for African Americans? How did the language of freedom and democracy help open doors of opportunity for African Americans? What obstacles remained for full success?

7.) Eric Foner wrote, “the language with which World War II was fought helped to lay the foundation for postwar ideals of human rights that extend to all mankind.” Do you agree with the statement as it pertains to African Americans? For African Americans, during World War II and the postwar era, what freedoms were extended or contracted?











Kelley, R. D. G., & Lewis, E. (Eds.). (2014).  To make our world anew : a history of african americans . Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com.ezproxy2.apus.edu



CHAPTER 3 From a Raw Deal to a New Deal? 1929–1945 Joe William Trotter, Jr. Long before the stock market crash in October 1929, African Americans had experienced hard times. The “last hired and the first fired,” African Americans entered the Great Depression earlier and more deeply than other racial and ethnic groups. Sociologists St. Clair Drake and Horace R. Cayton believed that the black community served as a “barometer sensitive to the approaching storm.” Months before the stock market crash, the Chicago Defender warned, “Something is happening… and it should no longer go unnoticed. During the past three weeks hardly a day has ended that there has not been a report of another firm discharging its employees, many of whom have been faithful workers at these places for years.” The depression brought mass suffering to the country as a whole. National income dropped by nearly fifty percent, from $81 billion in 1929 to $40 billion in 1932; unemployment rose to an estimated twenty-five percent of the labor force; and nearly twenty million Americans turned to public and private relief agencies to prevent starvation and destitution. Still, African Americans suffered more than their white counterparts, received less from their government, and got what they called a “raw deal” rather than a “new deal.” The depression took its toll on virtually every facet of African American life. As unemployment rose, membership in churches, clubs, and fraternal orders dropped. Blacks frequently related the pain of this separation from friends and acquaintances. “I don’t attend church as often as I used to. You know I am not fixed like I want to be—haven’t got the clothes I need.” Blacks in the rural South faced the most devastating impact of the Great Depression. As cotton prices dropped from eighteen cents per pound to less than six cents by early 1933, an estimated two million black farmers faced hard times. The number of black sharecroppers dropped from nearly 392,000 in 1930 to under 300,000 as the depression spread. All categories of rural black labor—landowners, cash tenants, sharecroppers, and wage laborers —suffered from declining incomes. Mechanical devices had already reduced the number of workers needed for plowing, hoeing, and weeding, but planters now experimented with mechanical cotton pickers as well. As one black woman put it, many jobs had “gone to machines, gone to white people or gone out of style.” Public and private relief efforts were virtually nonexistent in the rural South, forcing farm families to continue their trek to the city. Kelley, R. D. G., & Lewis, E. (Eds.). (2014). To make our world anew : a history of african americans. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com Created from apus on 2017-09-04 09:56:18. Copyright © 2014. Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. The Great Depression forced growing numbers of white women to enter the work force, where they competed with black women for jobs. Here, blacks and whites work side by side at a cannery in North Carolina. Despite declining opportunities to work in southern and northern cities, black migration continued during the depression years. The percentage of urban blacks rose from about fortyfour percent in 1930 to nearly fifty percent during the depression years. The black population in northern cities increased by nearly twenty-five percent; the number of cities with black populations of over one hundred thousand increased from one in 1930 to eleven in 1935. Public social services played an increasing role in decisions to move. As the Swedish economist Gunnar Myrdal noted in his classic study of black life during the period, “It was much harder for Negroes who needed it to get relief in the South than in the North.” The increasing migration of blacks to cities intensified the poverty of established residents. Before the stock market crash of 1929, urban blacks had already faced the impact of increasing mechanization, declining demand for manufactured goods, and loss of employment to whites. The stock market crash further undercut the economic position of African Americans. By 1932, black urban unemployment reached well over fifty percent, more than twice the rate of whites. In northern and southern cities, black workers faced special difficulties trying to hold on to their jobs. In Pittsburgh, for example, some black workers were fired when they refused to give kickbacks to the foreman for being permitted to keep their jobs. At the same time, unemployed whites made increasing inroads on the so-called “Negro jobs,” lower-level positions that blacks had occupied during good times. Not only in factories but in street cleaning, garbage collection, and domestic service work, whites competed for the traditionally black jobs. As the depression intensified, many white women entered the labor force for the first time. They competed with black women for jobs as maids, cooks, and housekeepers. In northern cities, unemployment and destitution forced many black women to participate in the notorious “slave market.” Congregating on the sidewalks of major cities, these women offered their Kelley, R. D. G., & Lewis, E. (Eds.). (2014). To make our world anew : a history of african americans. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com Created from apus on 2017-09-04 09:56:18. Copyright © 2014. Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. services to white women, who drove up in their cars seeking domestic help. Some of the employers were working-class women themselves and paid as little as five dollars weekly for full-time household workers. The work was difficult indeed. One young black woman, Millie Jones, offered a detailed description of her work for one family for five dollars a week. Each and every week, believe it or not, I had to wash every one of those windows [fifteen in a six-room apartment]. If that old hag found as much as the teeniest speck on any one of ’em, she’d make me do it over. I guess I would do anything rather than wash windows. On Mondays I washed and did as much of the ironing as I could. The rest waited over for Tuesday. There were two grown sons in the family and her husband. That meant that I would have at least twenty-one shirts to do every week. Yeah, and ten sheets and at least two blankets, besides. They all had to be done just so, too. In urban factories and commercial laundries, black women also faced difficult times. In a New York laundry, black women worked fifty hours each week. According to one employee, “it was speed up, speed up, eating lunch on the fly.” Women working in the starching department stood on their feet for ten hours each day, “sticking their hands into almost boiling starch.” When the employees complained, the boss threatened to fire and replace them with workers from the large pool of unemployed women. But black women did not accept these conditions without a fight. Racism and job competition helped to narrow the margin between bare survival and destitution. Evidence of racism abounded. In the South, white workers rallied around such slogans as, “No Jobs for Niggers Until Every White Man Has a Job” and “Niggers, back to the cotton fields—city jobs are for white folks.” The most violent efforts to displace black workers occurred on southern railroads, where the white brotherhoods, as their unions were called, intimidated, attacked, and murdered black workers in order to take their jobs. By early 1933, nearly a dozen black firemen had lost their lives in various parts of the country. Although the Ku Klux Klan had declined by the mid-1920s, it now renewed attacks on African Americans. The discriminatory policies of employers and labor unions also affected African Americans in northern cities. Employers maintained their views that African Americans were fit only for dirty, unpleasant, low-paying, and heavy work. As blacks sought employment, employers again frequently claimed that, “We don’t have a foundry in our plant and that’s the kind of work Negroes are best suited for.” In Milwaukee, one firm justified its exclusion of black workers in familial and paternalistic terms: “We just sort of work like a family here and to bring in Negro workers would cause confusion and cause white workers to feel that their jobs had lost in dignity if being done by Negroes.” White workers reinforced and frequently demanded such policies. Twenty-four unions, ten of them affiliates of the American Federation of Labor (AFL), barred blacks completely and others practiced other forms of discrimination and exclusion. Thus, disproportionately large numbers of African Americans entered the bread lines, sold their belongings, and faced eviction from their homes. It was a difficult time, but the Republican administration of Herbert Hoover did little to relieve the suffering. Hoover resisted proposals for aiding the nation’s poor and destitute. Instead, he pursued a policy of indirect relief through the establishment of agencies like the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, which provided loans to relieve the credit problems of Kelley, R. D. G., & Lewis, E. (Eds.). (2014). To make our world anew : a history of african americans. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com Created from apus on 2017-09-04 09:56:18. Copyright © 2014. Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. huge corporations like railroads, banks, and insurance companies. By “priming the pump” of big business, Hoover believed that federal aid to corporations would stimulate production, create new jobs, and increase consumer spending—that is, that wealth would “trickle down” to the rest of the economy and end the depression. Unfortunately, these policies provided little help to African Americans. Despite their suffering under the Hoover administration, African Americans rallied to the slogan “who but Hoover” in the presidential election of 1932. Hoover had not only failed to advance effective policies for dealing with the depression; he had also offended African Americans in a variety of ways, including refusing to be photographed with black leaders. Still, he received about sixty-six percent of the black votes. Only in New York and Kansas City, Missouri, did the majority of blacks vote for Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The Republican party of Abraham Lincoln was still seen as the party of emancipation. From the black vantage point Roosevelt looked little better than Hoover. As assistant secretary of the navy during the First World War, he had supported the racial segregation of the armed forces. He had also adopted Warm Springs, Georgia, as his home and accepted the system of racial segregation in that state. Moreover, during its national convention, the Democratic party rejected an NAACP proposal for a civil rights plank that called for an end to racial discrimination. Unemployed blacks line up outside the State Employment Service in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1938. During the depression blacks received far less aid than their white counterparts. Once in office, FDR did little to build confidence among African Americans. The new president depended on Southern segregationists to pass and implement his “New Deal” programs. FDR saw the depression as an economic disaster that required massive federal aid and planning. The president formulated his New Deal programs accordingly, giving close Kelley, R. D. G., & Lewis, E. (Eds.). (2014). To make our world anew : a history of african americans. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com Created from apus on 2017-09-04 09:56:18. Copyright © 2014. Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. attention to the needs of big business, agriculture, and labor. Roosevelt opposed federal antilynching legislation, prevented black delegations from visiting the White House, and refused to make civil rights and racial equity a priority. FDR repeatedly justified his actions on the grounds that he needed Southern white support for his economic relief and recovery programs. In a conversation with an NAACP official, he confided that, “If I come out for the anti-lynching bill now, they will block every bill I ask Congress to pass to keep America from collapsing. I just can’t take that risk.” African-American rights were placed on hold. Each piece of New Deal legislation failed to safeguard African Americans against racial discrimination. The National Recovery Administration (NRA), Agricultural Adjustment Administration (AAA), the Works Progress [later Projects] Administration (WPA), the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), and the Federal Energy Relief Administration (FERA), to name only a few, all left blacks vulnerable to discriminatory employers, agency officials, and local whites. Despite the initiation of New Deal relief measures, African Americans repeatedly complained of their inability to secure relief. When a father of six lost his job and sought relief in the city of Pittsburgh, relief officials denied his request. Only when he deserted his family, his wife reported, did she and the children receive aid. According to the woman’s testimony: “He told me once that if he wasn’t living at home the welfare people would help me and the kids, and maybe he just went away on that account.” Southern state and local officials disregarded federal guidelines and paid African-American relief recipients less than their white counterparts. In Atlanta, blacks on relief received an average of $19.29 per month compared to $32.66 for whites. In Jacksonville, Florida, about five thousand whites received forty-five percent of the relief funds, while the fifteen thousand blacks on relief received the remaining fifty-five percent. Southern politicians defended the practice, arguing that the low living standard of blacks enabled them to live on less than whites. The local Federal Emergency Relief Administration was not alone in discriminating against blacks. The Agricultural Adjustment Act paid farmers to withdraw cotton land from production, create a shortage, and drive up the price of cotton on the market. Set up to administer the law at the local level, AAA county committees excluded African Americans from participation. By depriving African Americans of representation white landowners were able to institute policies that drove black landowners into the ranks of sharecroppers and forced growing numbers of sharecroppers off the land altogether. During its first year, for example, the AAA encouraged farmers to plow under cotton that was already planted. Landowners took government checks, plowed up cotton, and denied tenants a share of the government income. At the same time that planters removed increasing acres of land from cultivation, the largest landowners turned increasingly to scientific and mechanized farming. Tractors and cottonpicking machines rendered black labor more and more dispensable. Although their numbers dwindled, the remaining black sharecroppers earned less than their white counterparts. White sharecroppers received a mean net income of $417 per year compared to only $295 for blacks. Whites receiving hourly wages made $232 per year, compared to only $175 for blacks. Lower earnings aggravated other forms of racial inequality. In his survey of 612 black farm families in Macon County, Alabama, the sociologist Charles S. Johnson found that more than Kelley, R. D. G., & Lewis, E. (Eds.). (2014). To make our world anew : a history of african americans. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com Created from apus on 2017-09-04 09:56:18. Copyright © 2014. Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. half lived in one-and two-room weatherworn shacks. When asked if her house leaked when it rained, a black woman said, “No, it don’t leak in here, it just rains in here and leaks outdoors.” Another tenant complained that the landlord refused to provide lumber for repairs: “All he’s give us … is a few planks. … It’s nothin doin’. We just living outdoors.” Food was also difficult for farm families to come by. Black tenants had good reasons to view these early years of the New Deal with skepticism. The National Recovery Act also discriminated against black workers. Partly by exempting domestic service and unskilled laborers from its provisions, the NRA removed most blacks from its minimum wage and participatory requirements. Since over sixty percent of African Americans worked in these sectors, the measure had little meaning for most blacks, especially women. Nonetheless, other blacks who held on to their precarious footing in the industrial labor force, despite hard times, faced new pressures from employers and white workers. In 1934, the Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Urban League reported a strike at the Wehr Steel Foundry. The chief aim of the strike, the League reported, was the “dismissal of Negroes from the plant.” When black workers decided to cross the picket line, police joined strikers in attacks on them. The Milwaukee Urban League reported that: “The first few days of the strike brought considerable violence between the Negroes who attempted to continue on the jobs and the white pickets. … Police had been summoned [by management] to protect those who cared to enter but in turn joined with the strikers in overturning an automobile filled with Negro workers.” Even on construction projects for black institutions, white workers rallied to bar African American workers. In St. Louis, for example, when the General Tile Company hired a black tile setter on the $2 million Homer Phillips Hospital for blacks, all the white AFLunion men quit and delayed construction for two months. In Long Island and Manhattan, the Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and Building Service Employees’ Union pursued similar practices. When African Americans were brought under the provisions of the law in southern textile firms, employers reclassified African American jobs, in order to remove them from the protection of the NRA codes. Some firms simply argued that blacks were less efficient than whites and thus deserved low wages. In Atlanta, for example, the Scripto Manufacturing company told black workers, “This company does not base wages on color but entirely on efficiency. Our records show that the efficiency of colored help is only fifty percent of that of white help in similar plants.” Where the codes did upgrade the pay of black workers, many firms replaced their African American workforces with white employees. It is no wonder that blacks frequently called the NRA, the “Negro Run Around,” “Negroes Ruined Again”, and “Negro Rarely Allowed.” In short, NRA legislation (particularly section 7a, which gave workers the right to collective bargaining with employers) enabled labor unions to strengthen their hand at the expense of blacks in the North and South. As late as 1935, organized white labor also blocked the inclusion of a nondiscrimination clause in the National Labor Relations Act, sponsored by Senator Robert Wagner of New York. The new Wagner law gave workers and their unions extended protection in their effort to bargain collectively with management. African Americans not only faced discrimination in industrial, agricultural, and relief programs but confronted racial bias in federal housing, social security, and regional planning Kelley, R. D. G., & Lewis, E. (Eds.). (2014). To make our world anew : a history of african americans. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com Created from apus on 2017-09-04 09:56:18. Copyright © 2014. Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. and youth programs as well. The Federal Housing Administration refused to guarantee mortgages (homeloans) in racially integrated neighborhoods; the Social Security Act excluded farm laborers and domestic service employees; and the TVA and CCC developed along segregationist and unequal lines. Established in 1933, the Tennessee Valley Authority was promoted by the Roosevelt administration as a model of social planning to improve the lives of millions of Americans in seven states in the Tennessee River Valley. It was hoped that the TVA would stimulate economic development and reduce poverty by establishing a massive program of rural electrification at dramatically reduced rates. African Americans comprised eleven percent of the two million residents of the region, and the project promised “nondiscrimination” in its official design. African Americans took heart at the promise of benefits from TVA. Yet, the project soon accepted the racial status quo for black workers and their families in the valley. The agency barred blacks from skilled and managerial positions, excluded them from vocational training programs, and reinforced patterns of segregation in housing. When queried about the exclusion of blacks from its model town of Norris, Tennessee, TVA chairman Arthur Morgan referred to a long “lilly white” waiting list and suggested that it was unlikely that blacks would be able to move to Norris. Even more important, African Americans received inadequate benefits from the reduced rates for electrical power for their homes. In an essay on the “Plight of the Negro in the Tennessee Valley,” the NAACP magazine The Crisis reported: “For Negroes the introduction of cheaper electric rates into Lee County as result of the TVA power policy has meant nothing. Landlords, whether of Negro slum dwellers in Tupelo or of Negro tenant farmers in the rural section of the county, have not found it to their advantage to wire their Negro tenants’ homes at the cost of $15 to $25, when already they are squeezing all the rent possible from these tenants.” In the face of blatant forms of discrimination during the early New Deal, African Americans found little to praise in the government’s relief efforts. They were acutely aware that they suffered disproportionately from unemployment, but faced the greatest discrimination and received the least benefits from government relief, work, housing, and social security programs. All Americans gained increasing assistance from the federal government, but such assistance would only slowly reach African Americans and help to reverse the impact of hard times on their families and communities. By the mid-1930s, however, a variety of new forces would gradually transform the “raw deal” into a “new deal.” A New Deal, 1935–1939 Between the stock market crash of 1929 and the early years of the New Deal, the condition of African Americans moved from bad to worse. Neither the Hoover administration nor the first efforts of the Democratic regime of Franklin Roosevelt did much to lessen the suffering of African Americans. By 1935, however, a variety of forces helped to transform the relationship between blacks and the New Deal. Changes in American attitudes toward race and class, the emergence of new interracial alliances, and the growing political mobilization of African Americans themselves all put pressure on the federal government to address the needs of Kelley, R. D. G., & Lewis, E. (Eds.). (2014). To make our world anew : a history of african americans. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com Created from apus on 2017-09-04 09:56:18. Copyright © 2014. Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. African Americans. In a nationwide radio broadcast, President Franklin D. Roosevelt symbolized the shift. In a speech before a conference of the Churches of Christ in America, he condemned lynching as murder: “Lynch law is murder, a deliberate and definite disobedience of the high command, ‘Thou shalt not kill.’ We do not excuse those in high places or low who condone lynch law.” Following the president’s pronouncement, the NAACP’s Crisis magazine exclaimed that FDR was the only president to declare “frankly that lynching is murder. We all knew it, but it is unusual to have a president of the United States admit it. These things give us hope.” As the federal government increasingly affirmed its responsibility for the social welfare of all Americans, it helped to change the context of the African-American struggle for social justice. By 1939, African Americans had gradually gained a larger share of New Deal social programs and improved their economic situation. African-American income from New Deal work and relief programs—Public Works Administration, Works Progress Administration, and Civilian Conservation Corps—now nearly equaled their income from employment in agriculture and domestic service. On CCC projects, African Americans increased their percentage from less than six percent in 1935 to eleven percent in 1939. African Americans also occupied about one-third of all low-income PWA housing units, obtained a rising share of Federal Farm Security Loans, and access to a variety of new WPA educational and cultural programs. Because the government spent more money on education, including the building of new facilities, black illiteracy dropped ten percent during the 1930s. The number of African Americans on relief and the amount of money available to them rose steadily. African Americans increasingly hailed such New Deal social programs as “a godsend.” Some even suggested that God “will lead me” but relief “will feed me.” The changing relationship between blacks and the New Deal was not merely a matter of the government’s shifting attitude toward the social welfare of all Americans. The Roosevelt administration also responded to the growing importance of the black vote on national elections, the emergence of an interracial alliance of black and white New Dealers, and especially a rising core of black federal appointees. Roosevelt acted to the growing importance of the black vote by appointing increasing numbers of African Americans to federal posts. By the mid-1930s, some forty-five blacks had received appointments in various New Deal agencies and cabinet departments. The “Black Cabinet,” as these black advisers were called, included Robert L. Vann, editor of the Pittsburgh Courier, in the office of the Attorney General; William H. Hastie, a civil rights attorney, in the Department of the Interior; Robert C. Weaver, an economist, also in the Interior Department; Lawrence A. Oxley, a social worker, in the Department of Labor; Edgar Brown, president of the United Government Employees, in the Civilian Conservation Corps; and Mary McLeod Bethune, founder of Bethune-Cookman College, head of the Negro Division of the National Youth Administration. The “Black Cabinet” enabled African Americans to improve their position in a variety of New Deal programs. Kelley, R. D. G., & Lewis, E. (Eds.). (2014). To make our world anew : a history of african americans. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com Created from apus on 2017-09-04 09:56:18. Copyright © 2014. Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. President Franklin Roosevelt responded to the growing importance of the black vote in national elections by appointing increasing numbers of blacks to federal posts. Members of the “Black Cabinet,” as these appointees came to be called, gathered for a photograph in 1938. The first lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, played a key role in helping these black New Dealers improve the federal response to the needs of African Americans. Although Mrs. Roosevelt had little contact with African Americans before early 1933, she soon befriended Walter White of the NAACP and Mary McLeod Bethune. Through her frequent interactions with black leaders Eleanor Roosevelt gradually increased her support of civil rights issues. Following the election of 1936, for example, she endorsed legislation designed to abolish the poll tax, make lynching a federal offense, and increase aid to black institutions, particularly schools. Historians credit Mrs. Roosevelt with helping to push FDR’s position on civil rights from one of caution and aloofness to one of significant support. FDR eventually allowed himself to be photographed with black leaders, conferred with civil rights delegations at the White House, and sent greetings to African American organizations. As the White House seemed to escalate its support for racial justice, other New Dealers took heart and advanced the cause of African Americans. The policies of Harold Ickes, Secretary of Interior and administrator of the PWA; Harry Hopkins, head of the WPA; and a few others exemplified the growing support that African Americans received in some New Deal agencies. Before taking his post as Secretary of the Interior, Ickes had served as president of the Chicago chapter of the NAACP. Upon assuming his duties, he ended segregation in the department’s rest rooms and cafeteria. Although local whites often ignored his policies, Ickes advocated the employment of skilled and unskilled black laborers on PWA construction projects. The secretary insisted that all PWA contractors agree to hire blacks in proportion to their percentage in the 1930 occupational census. Under the leadership of Harry Hopkins, the WPA established policies making it illegal for any relief official to discriminate “on account of race, creed, or color.” FDR had strengthened his hand, by issuing Executive Order 7046, which mandated that the WPA would assign persons “qualified by training and experience” to work projects without discrimination “on any grounds whatsoever.” Under Hopkins’s leadership, the WPA also promoted black adult education, hired unemployed black professionals, and stimulated the arts within the black community. The WPA Education program employed over 5,000 blacks as leaders and supervisors, taught nearly Kelley, R. D. G., & Lewis, E. (Eds.). (2014). To make our world anew : a history of african americans. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com Created from apus on 2017-09-04 09:56:18. Copyright © 2014. Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. 250,000 blacks to read and write, and trained many for skilled jobs. The Federal Music Project staged concerts involving the works of black composers; the Federal Art

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