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African Americans In The Great Depression

1512 words - 6 pages

The Great Depression. The worst financial crisis to ever hit America. Unemployment rates of over 25%. A 50% decrease in national income. Billions of dollars lost in a single day. (Trotter, pg.8) The Depression affected everyone in America. Young and old, rich and poor, black and white, none were spared. However, for America’s 12 million African Americans (Encyclopedia of Race and Racism) the Depression didn’t just start in 1929.(Africa to America: From the Middle Passage Through the 1930s) African Americans were a subjugated minority. Racism wasn’t only present in America, it was accepted by many. In the South, Democrats fought to keep African Americans under harsh segregation and oppressive laws. (Trotter, pg. 9) Efforts to relieve African Americans from their dire situation were repulsed and shut down as often as possible. (Trotter, pg. 9) Despite all this, African Americans fought back against their oppression and tried to organize themselves to promote their interests. (Africa to America: From the Middle Passage Through the 1930s, pg. 36) In time, their situation improved and they managed to slowly recover from the damage caused by the Depression. In the book Of Mice and Men the character Crooks is a black man living during the Great Depression. He faces prejudice and is not well liked by the other men. His experience is just one of the twelve million African Americans who lived and struggled during the Great Depression.
The Great Depression had severe political ramifications for African Americans. The Depression occurred during the presidency of Herbert Hoover, a former mining executive and Secretary of Commerce.( Encyclopedia of the American Presidency) His Republican administration received strong backing from African Americans during his first term, as the Republican party was still seen as the party of Emancipation. (Trotter, pg. 11) Hoover promoted policies that would protect large businesses, instead of individuals, and that was seen by many, including African Americans, as a move in the wrong direction. (Africa to America: From the Middle Passage Through the 1930s, pg. 35) As Hoovers administration continued its business backing policies African Americans drifted towards Democrats. This accompanied a rapid urbanization that rose the percentage of African Americans living in cities from forty four percent to fifty percent in just 9 years, from 1930 to 1939. (Trotter, pg. 11) Seventy five percent of African Americans lived in the South, where Southern Democrats had oppressed and opposed African Americans since the end of the Reconstruction in the early 1870’s. (Americans at War) Despite the bad blood between African Americans and Democrats, they drifted in large numbers towards ‘the left’ as Roosevelt and his administration began to administer the “New Deal”. The New Deal was a series of programs and agencies set up to help the United States recover from the Depression. Over 20 million Americans sought assistance from agencies and...

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