Tuesday, October 2, 2012


Logan, R.W. (1965). The betrayal of the Negro: From Rutherford B. Hayes to Woodrow Wilson. New York: Macmillan. Raper, A.F. (1933). The tragedy of lynching. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Presshttp://academic.csuohio.edu/perloffr/lynching/.
http://www.english.illinois.edu/maps/depression/about.htm  Map 1
http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/ArticlePrintable.jsp?id=h-3540  Georgia 

All accessed by 10/1/12, 10/2/12 and 10/3/12
Segregation and Lynching
   The Great Depression caused more tension between blacks and whites becasue of  job and living tensions. These are some of the ways that whites dealed with that.


It is next to impossible to locate a newspaper article that does not identify the victim as a Negro or that refrains from suggesting that the accused was guilty of the crime and therefore deserving of punishment. For example, The New Orleans Picayune described an African-American who was lynched in Hammond, Louisiana for robbery as a "big, burly negro" and a "Black wretch" (Logan, 1965, p. 298).

In July, 1930, newspapermen poked around Emelle, Alabama, trying to ferret out details of the lynching of a Black man, as well as several other slayings. A few White residents who had been on hand when the men were killed refused to talk about the events to reporters from The Tuscaloosa News. "What the hell are you newspaper men doing here?" asked a White man who had been part of the vigilante group. "We're just killing a few negroes that we've waited too damn long about leaving for the buzzards. That's not news" (Raper, 1933, p. 67).

The White resident had that part right. During the 1930s, after thousands of African Americans had been put to death by mobs -- particularly in the South but in other regions of the country as well -- lynchings were no longer unusual or shocking events that deviated from the norm. Approximately 4,742 individuals were lynched between 1882 and 1968; of the victims, 3,445 or 73 percent were Black. During the heyday of lynching, between 1889 and 1918, 3,224 individuals were lynched, of whom 2,522 or 78 percent were Black. Typically, the victims were hung or burned to death by mobs of White vigilantes, frequently in front of thousands of spectators, many of whom would take pieces of the dead person's body as souvenirs to help remember the spectacular event

It is next to impossible to locate a newspaper article that does not identify the victim as a Negro or that refrains from suggesting that the accused was guilty of the crime and therefore deserving of punishment. For example, The New Orleans Picayune described an African-American who was lynched in Hammond, Louisiana for robbery as a "big, burly negro" and a "Black wretch" (Logan, 1965, p. 298).

  Lynching lasted until Eleanor Roosevelt made the decision to help. By the 1930s, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was pushing for a federal anti-lynching law. They hoped to gain the support of the President and First Lady. In the letter to NAACP executive secretary Walter Francis White, Eleanor Roosevelt describes a conversation she had with the President about the law.
   With this the law was passed in July 28th, 1922letter from Eleanor Roosevelt


In the 1920's it was required that everything be separated. It wasn't only because the people wanted to be separate it was by law that they had to be.  This made life harder for the blacks because even though they were separated they were still discriminated.The segregation caused Jim Crow laws and Black Codes. Under the lenient Reconstruction policies of President Andrew Johnson, white southerners reestablished civil authority in the former Confederate states in 1865 and 1866. They enacted a series of restrictive laws known as "black codes," which were designed to restrict freed blacks' activity and ensure their availability as a labor force now that slavery had been abolished. 


Negro Jobs" -- jobs traditionally held by blacks, such as busboys, elevator operaters, garbage men, porters, maids, and cooks -- were sought by desperate unemployed whites."

   "Niggers back to the cotton fields, City jobs are for white men."

"And in Mississippi, where blacks traditionally held certain jobs on trains, several unemployed white men , seeking train jobs, ambushed and killed the black workers."

"No jobs for niggers until every white man has a job"- klan-like group called the black shirts paraded with these words on a sign.

Black History Month, Farm Security Administration
Between 1935 and 1945, Douglas Aircraft Company's six plane factories were deemed a "melting pot" because its male and female workforce came from 58 different nations.
Black History Month, Farm Security Administration
A man serves two white patrons at Hertzog's, a seafood restaurant along the waterfront in Washington DC.
Black History Month, Farm Security Administration
This man worked in sugar cane fields.
Black History Month, Farm Security Administration
Men shuck corn on Uncle Henry Garrett's place in Tally Ho, North Carolina.

During the Great Depression whites would fight over these "Black jobs". The whites were more preferred over the blacks and more whites were hired.
How did the economy effect the black people?

The Black Population

"For the state's African American population, as the blues singer Lonnie Johnson put it, "Hard times don't worry me / I was broke when it first started out." Condemned by Jim Crow before the depression to inferior levels of education and the lowest-paying menial jobs, blacks were blocked from participating in the state's political system. The income of rural blacks was about half that of rural whites. In the entire state there were only four black insurance companies, one bank (Citizens Trust Bank in Atlanta), and one wholly owned newspaper. According to the 1930 U.S. census, there were 10,110 black professionals in Georgia (out of a population of 1,071,125), the majority being clergymen and teachers. Hospitals for blacks existed only in the largest urban areas. The Great Depression slowed the black migratory stream north but did not stop it entirely. In 1890 African Americans accounted for 47 percent of Georgia's population and by 1930 just 37 percent. By 1940 that figure fell slightly, to 35 percent."

The Great Depression of the 1930s worsened the already bleak economic situation of African Americans. They were the first to be laid off from their jobs, and they suffered from an unemployment rate two to three times that of whites. In early public assistance programs African Americans often received substantially less aid than whites, and some charitable organizations even excluded blacks from their soup kitchens.    

Black History Month, Farm Security Administration
Migrant workers travel from Florida to New Jersey to harvest potatoes. African Americans were particularly devastated by the Great Depression when work and food were scarce. They became part of a major migratory cycle in which laborers started down south in the spring, worked their way north, completed the fall harvest and then returned to Florida to begin the cycle again.
African Americans suffered more than whites, since their jobs were often taken away from them and given to whites. In 1930, 50 percent of blacks were unemployed. However, Eleanor Roosevelt championed black rights, and New Deal programs prohibited discrimination. Discrimination continued in the South, however, as a result a large number of black voters switched from the Republican to the Democrat party during the Depression.
How did the great Depression affect the south?
  Before and After: Living poorly or better?

"Conditions were harsher for blacks, whose entanglement in the sharecropping system dated back to the end of the Reconstruction era. While some still owned their own farms in the 1920s, many were forced off their land entirely by declining prices and into menial jobs in towns and cities. Others took the now-familiar path of migrating to urban areas in the state or industrial centers in the North, often joining relatives who had migrated during the mid-1910s. By 1935 just 12 percent of blacks owned the land they worked.
   The root of Georgia's rural depression in the 1920s was the decades-long dependence on cash-crop agriculture. Cash-crop production placed enormous pressure on farmers to plant every available acre of land with cotton, which eventually depleted the soil. Outmoded and careless practices, such as intertilling and the plowing of furrows without respect to the land's contour, further drained topsoil, leaving the land gashed and gullied. Making matters worse, the removal of much of the state's natural forestland eliminated one of nature's most effective barriers to erosion. Georgia's land, economy, and farmers were already wearing out when the Great Depression began."-Jamil S. Zainaldin, Georgia Humanities Council

Black History Month, Farm Security Administration
Two sisters shop in San Augustine, Texas.
Black History Month, Farm Security Administration
Ella Watson cares for her three grand children at her home in Washington DC.
It was extremely difficult for a large segment of the population to make a living during the depression. Living conditions were terrible and people lived in extreme poverty. While these conditions affected all segments of society, there is very little known about how African Americans survived during the depression. My goal is to find out, as much information as possible, what it was like to live during the Great Depression from an African Americans' point of view.
Much of the country's African-American population lived in rural areas and worked on farms owned by white landowners. For rural African-Americans, the Great Depression was hard to distinguish when poverty was always a way of life. Living conditions became more horrendous when some landowners lost their properties during the Depression. African-Americans had always relied on subsistence farming to supplement their meager earnings. In any case, most shared what little they had.
Life was considerably harder for African-Americans living in urban areas. However, there were many African-Americans who continued to work doing hard manual labor or working in areas inherently dangerous such as in foundries, while others worked as domestic servants for white folks. A smaller number worked for the railroads, steel mills, coal mines, school boards, etc. There were some enterprising African-Americans who made a fairly reasonable living operating small businesses.
Some African-Americans made a living as peddlers or street vendors. One gentlemen by the name of Clyde “Kingfish” Smith is said to have made a living selling fish in Harlem, New York City for as little as five cents a pound.

Black History Month, Farm Security Administration
A girl looks out of a window at Gees Bend, Alabama

 The fall of the economy that led to the Great Depression in 1929 caused a number of things. Some things like segragation, hate groups, lynching, and the rise and fall of the black population. In this blog we'll explain how unfairly treated the blacks were and how they survived.