Chicago Defender on the New Deal’s National Industrial Recovery Act:

[Text: “Dear, the old factory is now a member of the “NRA” which means I’ll get better wages and better hours. Later: Under the “NRA” this factory shall advance hours and minimize wages of all employees. Henceforth we shall employ white help only.”]

The Defender was the largest and most influential black newspaper of its day. Historian David Beito has discovered that it published many cartoons critical of New Deal policies, and especially of the disemployment effects of the NRA on African Americans. Historians have tended to gloss over the extent to which New Deal regulatory programs, especially minimum wage laws, prounion legislation, and the Agricultural Adjustment Acts, were pursued at the expense of African Americans. They prefer to focus instead on the New Deal’s contributions to African American well-being, such as the employment blacks received on WPA projects. As historian Ken Kersch has noted, during the New Deal African Americans recognized that their future fate lay in their ability to form an effective interest group within the emerging regulatory state. The black leadership had no choice but to abandon its prior support for laissez-faire and opposition to coercive unionism in favor of a far more statist agenda.

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