African Americans fight

In chapters 10 and 11: African Americans' Battle Against Racism, Segregation, and the Great Depression

The author addresses how African Americans battled racism and segregation, as well as the Great Depression of the 1930s, to advance their economic well-being. According to Chapter 10 of the book, "Black people's primary concerns during the Great Depression were unemployment and poverty." It was at this time that the governments permitted social workers to join unions, which were meant to protect them from an economic catastrophe, as the economy was shifting from the agricultural to the industrial and service sectors. African Americans joined these labor organizations for the first time in American history as they made the transition from farm and agricultural laborers to the industrial working class.

Political radicalization occurred during this time when the spotlight was focused on the rights of workers. During this time there was a large number of black people who had gained access to education, black scholars began to publish major historical works of the black people such as ‘The Negro Wage Earner’ [chapter 10 p.215] which was written by a black artist. This book articulated the important characteristics of the great depression through the eyes of a black American, such issues as segregation and racial discrimination in workplaces promoted by white supremacists which resulted in high levels of poverty within the black community. ‘White-owned businesses in black neighborhoods routinely refused to employ Africans’ [p.221]. Black people’s concern was the high unemployment and poverty which overwhelmed social resources.

The New Deal Program and Its Impact

The federal government through the newly elected president Roosevelt in 1933 provided new hope for the African Americans through the new deal program which was supposed to do away with segregation, racial inequalities, and equal work opportunities. Policies and laws were put in place to ensure this deal was successful, unfortunately, the local authorities administered these laws to suit their own purposes. The Department of Work Progress Administration together with black artists pushed forward the new deal policies which made it possible for many black artists who included Douglas, Palmer Hayden and William Henry to draw, paint and sculpt during the hard economic times of the 1930s. Although this new deal addressed issues of economic growth, black Americans still had to face issues such as racism and discrimination in the workplace, as white supremacists hardly employed black people. This led to boycotts and riots in major towns such as New York as they wanted to gain equal rights to employment. During Roosevelt’s administration, a division was formed to include African Americans for the first time in high administrative positions [p. 229].

Increased Black Activism: Africa and American Culture

Black activism increased in depth during the 1930s with increased concern about Africa as a continent, especially Ethiopia during the Italian invasion in 1935. This has been attributed to Christianity as they believed that it was a chosen sacred nation by God in accordance with the book of Psalms 63 in the Bible. “Princes shall come out of Egypt; Ethiopia shall soon stretch forth her hands to God” [p 230]. A dissertation by a black World War veteran was published by Logan as ‘The Diplomatic Relations of the United States with Haiti’ in 1776-1891, which showed African American scholarly interest in Haiti. Black Americans became more visible in American culture during the Great Depression than ever before. Great athletes such as runner Jesse Owen and boxer Joe Louis [chapter 11 p. 232] defeated the prejudice of the white supremacies. Campaigns for civil rights and workers’ rights in the court of law lead to the abolishing of racial discrimination and oppression of African Americans.

In conclusion, the Great Depression left black Americans profoundly affected economically. It is evident that this was a period of change and revolution towards inclusion and fostered guarded optimism and a bright future for African Americans.

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