The Impact of the Great Depression on Black Americans Essay

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The Impact of the Great Depression on Black Americans

The stock market crash of October 1929 was the prelude to the Great Depression. It was a time of hardship and sorrow for many people. American morale was low, and money and food were scarce. Poverty and despair, however, were not foreign to the Black Americans; poverty had been common to them since their days of captivity. To many Black Americans who lived in the south, it was the return of old times.

Sharecroppers and farm workers always lived in the midst of strife; they were never able to make a decent living. The boll weevil, soil erosion, and foreign competition had destroyed the cotton crop in the early Twenties. Life was difficult. No profits were being made, and
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Americans roamed the streets searching for shelter in municipal lodging houses or Hoovervilles; some lived in railroad boxcars or constructed tents in vacant lots.

When Franklin Roosevelt came to office in 1933, he emphasized relief, recovery, and reform through a program called the New Deal, but he had no plan to combat racial bias in the allotment of federal funds. Many Black Americans were unsure how much government help they would receive through this new program; the amount of relief that blacks received depended heavily upon the bias of the individual who headed each program. The Agricultural Adjustment Administration (AAA) was designed to raise agricultural prices by paying farmers to cut production. Landowners were given this money and expected to distribute it among their tenants and sharecroppers; however, landowners rarely gave this money to their black workers. These black workers did not accuse their landowners of witholding money because they feared losing their jobs. Black Americans were also hurt through the National Recovery dministration (NRA). The NRA was formed to establish minimum wages for all workers, but these wages tended to hurt blacks, especially in the South with the enforcement of Black Codes. Because wages were equal for blacks and whites, many owners fired blacks to replace them with white workers. The higher wages enforced by the NRA caused prices to rise, but blacks often did not
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