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Race and Liberty in AmericaThe Essential Reader$
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Jonathan Bean

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780813125459

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813125459.001.0001

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The Roosevelt Years

The Roosevelt Years


(p.163) 5 The Roosevelt Years
Race and Liberty in America

Jonathan Bean

University Press of Kentucky

American politics was transformed by the Great Depression and World War II, as voters migrated all together from the Republican to the Democratic Party. Franklin Roosevelt exercised great presidential power for 12 years. Sympathetic interpreters emphasized the role of Eleanor Roosevelt, northern Democrats, and labor unions in promoting a civil rights agenda. They also explained how Roosevelt's judicial appointments and Department of Justice briefs led to court victories of the 1940s and 1950s. Other interpreters noted the diverse responses of African Americans: younger, northern blacks migrated to the Democratic Party, whereas older, southern blacks would not vote for them. Roosevelt remained silent on race and refused to back anti-lynching bills or other non-discrimination measures. Despite the president's silence on race, African Americans voted for the Democratic Party because the New Deal offered jobs to desperate people. However, those passionate about civil rights were far more critical of Roosevelt's record.

Keywords:   American politics, Great Depression, World War II, Franklin Roosevelt, African Americans, blacks, Democratic Party, Republican, New Deal, jobs

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