The New Deal was far from perfect and we are well aware of the criticisms that have been made of programs where it failed to oppose or went along with the existing social order in the United States in the 1930s and 1940s. The New Dealers were, in every case, faced with a daunting task of overcoming long-established patterns of discrimination and oppression. In less than a decade, they could only do so much to reverse ingrained opinions, habits and power relations established in the past.
Nevertheless, the New Deal did a great deal of good in overcoming the mistreatment of neglected, excluded and marginalized people in American life. This involved not only people of color, but women, elders, the disabled and refugees. We think that it is important to appreciate how much the New Dealers tried to oppose discrimination and the many accomplishments of their progressive policies.
A quote engraved at the FDR Memorial in Washington, DC, spoken by President Roosevelt at the dedication of a new chemistry building at the historically black Howard University, October 26, 1936. Photo by Brent McKee.
In this section, we summarize the achievements of the New Deal that helped bring marginalized and racialized Americans into the mainstream and advance the causes of racial justice and gender equality. We focus on eight groups: elders, women, disabled, and Jewish refugees, plus the four major racial categories, African-Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders and Native Americans.
We have also created a photographic essay on inclusion of diverse peoples in New Deal work projects, which we call “Working Together”. (See link at bottom of the page)
We have created a photographic archive of New Deal interaction and integration based on the research of Living New Deal staffer Brent McKee.
Note how many images of children there are in this collection; one of the most heartening aspects of the New Deal was the promise it invested in future generations.
Other scholars and archivists are exploring New Deal-sponsored integration, such as Lewis University’s photographic collection of integrated CCC projects in Illinois.
SEE OUR WORKING TOGETHER PHOTO GALLERY
See also our photographic essay on African Americans in the CCC, 1933-1942
The Michael Brooks Show: Neoliberals & The Right Don’t Understand The New Deal ft. Toure Reed