A New Deal for African Americans?
FDR's New Deal provided vital economic assistance to African Americans. But it rarely challenged widespread racial segregation and discrimination in 1930s America. The administration wasn't hostile to black Americans, but FDR needed the support of powerful Southern Democrats in Congress to enact his economic agenda. To keep their support, he distanced himself from efforts to ban the poll tax and make lynching a Federal crime.
With Eleanor Roosevelt's strong encouragement, FDR appointed blacks to significant second-tier positions in his administration, creating the so-called "Black Cabinet." And some prominent New Dealers, urged on by ER, worked to ensure relief programs didn't exclude blacks. But they often accommodated, or were unable to overcome, existing patterns of discrimination. The CCC established separate black camps. The WPA relegated blacks and Hispanics to low-paying jobs. The FHA refused mortgages to blacks moving into white neighborhoods. And federally-financed public housing was racially segregated.