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Federal Council of Negro Affairs

The Federal Council of Negro Affairs was an informal collection of African Americans that advised President Franklin D. Roosevelt during the Great Depression and his New Deal acts. He appointed a large number of blacks to second-level positions and by the mid-1930s there were about 45 blacks working in the New Deal agencies. [1] Roosevelt and the Council were responsible for the shift of black votes from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party. It is speculated that Eleanor Roosevelt influenced the President to appoint many of the Black leaders. Eleanor Roosevelt along with the cabinet worked hard to ensure that blacks received 10 percent of welfare funds.

Although the Council did focus on Civil Rights, Franklin D. Roosevelt felt that there were larger problems to be addressed than racial inequality, perhaps in an effort to keep the support of Southern Congressional Democrats. Roosevelt also declined to support legislation making lynching a federal offense, and banning the poll tax in the south. The Council argued that blacks were underrepresented in the aid the government was providing. The Agricultural Adjustment Administration helped farmers but did not help farm workers, as farm owners were given incentive to cut farm production. Programs such as the Works Projects Administration (WPA), and the National Youth Administration (NYA) set aside 10 percent of funds to blacks and set up separate all-black units with the same pay and conditions, to which black voters responded favorably.

Mary Mcleod Bethune served as the organizer for the Council as well as the Director of Negro Affairs in the National Youth Administration.[2] Rayford Wittingham Logan drafted Roosevelt’s executive order prohibiting the exclusion of blacks from in the military in World War II. Other leaders included William H. Hastie, Robert C. Weaver. The leaders associated with the Black Cabinet are often credited with laying the foundation of the Civil Rights' Movement.

Much of the work the Council did was to create jobs for African Americans, who made up about twenty percent of the poor in the Depression Era. Most of the black community did not benefit from some of the New Deal Acts. Relief programs The WPA created agencies which created agencies that blacks could work for, most notably the Federal Writers' Project, which paid its workers $20 a week. [3] Under Roscoe E. Lewis, the Virginia Writers’ Project sent out an all-black unit of writers to interview ex-slaves. The Slave Narrative Collection of the Federal Writers' Project stands as one of the most enduring and noteworthy achievements of the WPA. [4]

See also

External links

  1. ^ New Deal (Roosevelt)
  2. ^ Civil Rights Leader | NCNW | Mary McLeod Bethune
  3. ^ About the WPA Life Histories Collection
  4. ^ Slave Narratives: An Introduction to the WPA Slave Narratives


Poole, Bernice Anderson (1994). Mary Mcleod Bethune: educator. ISBN 0-87067-783-7. 

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