May 2, 2023
FDRâ€™s Raw Deal for African Americans
Franklin D. Roosevelt, commonly known as FDR, is often hailed as one of the greatest presidents in American history. He is credited with leading the country through the Great Depression and World War II, and his New Deal policies are still celebrated as a turning point in American history. However, when it comes to his treatment of African Americans, FDRâ€™s legacy is much more complicated.
During his presidency, FDR implemented a number of policies that had a devastating impact on African Americans. One of the most egregious examples was the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1933, which was designed to help struggling farmers by paying them to reduce their crop production. However, this policy had a disproportionate impact on African American farmers, who were already struggling due to years of discrimination and segregation.
Because many African American farmers were sharecroppers, they did not own the land they worked on. As a result, they were not eligible for the subsidies provided by the Agricultural Adjustment Act. This meant that many African American farmers were forced to reduce their crop production without receiving any compensation, which led to widespread poverty and hunger in black communities.
Another example of FDRâ€™s raw deal for African Americans was his decision to exclude domestic and agricultural workers from the protections provided by the National Labor Relations Act of 1935. This decision was made in order to appease Southern Democrats, who were opposed to granting labor rights to African Americans. As a result, millions of African American workers were denied the right to form unions and negotiate for better wages and working conditions.
FDRâ€™s legacy on civil rights is also complicated by his decision to intern Japanese Americans during World War II. While this policy did not directly impact African Americans, it is often cited as an example of FDRâ€™s willingness to sacrifice civil liberties in the name of national security.
Despite these flaws, FDRâ€™s legacy on civil rights is not entirely negative. He did appoint the first African American cabinet member, Robert C. Weaver, and he also established the Fair Employment Practices Committee, which was designed to combat discrimination in the workplace. However, these actions were often overshadowed by his other policies, which had a much more negative impact on African Americans.
In conclusion, while FDR is often celebrated as a champion of the working class and a defender of democracy, his legacy on civil rights is much more complicated. His policies had a devastating impact on African Americans, and his willingness to compromise with segregationists and racists is a stain on his record. While we should acknowledge his accomplishments, we must also recognize the harm he caused and work to ensure that our leaders do better in the future.