When Franklin Delano Roosevelt took office in 1933, he promised to deliver on his presidential campaign a "new deal" for everyone. Although Roosevelt's New Deal is frequently described as an improvisation, much of it was planned in advance. The New Deal programs did not end the Depression. It was the growing storm clouds in Europe, American aid to the Allies, and ultimately, U.S. entry into World War II after the bombing of Pearl Harbor that revitalized the nation's economy.( )
Remembering their experiences in World War I, African American soldiers and civilians were increasingly unwilling to quietly accept a segregated army or the discriminatory conditions they had previously endured. Northern black troops sent to the South for training often had violent encounters with white citizens there. Black-owned newspapers protested segregation, mistreatment, and discrimination. Labor leader A. Philip Randolph threatened a march on Washington, D.C. by hundreds of thousands of blacks in 1941 to protest job discrimination in defense industries and the military.
To avoid this protest, President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 8802, reaffirming the "policy of full participation in the defense program by all persons, regardless of race, creed, color, or national origin." (5)
In 1935 Roosevelt formed the Works Progress Administration (later renamed the Work Projects Administration--WPA) to create jobs that would allow individuals to maintain their sense of self-esteem. Even though inequities existed under the New Deal programs, they included ethnic and marginal groups, the financially and politically disenfranchised, the geographically dispersed, and women and children. In particular, many blacks found new employment opportunities, and special programs focused on three centuries of cultural accomplishments of African-Americans, as well as European contributions to national development. ( )
There were many inequities in the New Deal housing, agricultural and economic programs, blacks had opportunities to obtain employment, some in...