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Black Culture and the New Deal: The Quest for Civil Rights in the Roosevelt Era
     

Black Culture and the New Deal: The Quest for Civil Rights in the Roosevelt Era

by Lauren Rebecca Sklaroff
 

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In the 1930s, the Roosevelt administration--unwilling to antagonize a powerful southern congressional bloc--refused to endorse legislation that openly sought to improve political, economic, and social conditions for African Americans. Instead, as historian Lauren Rebecca Sklaroff shows, the administration recognized and celebrated African Americans by offering federal

Overview

In the 1930s, the Roosevelt administration--unwilling to antagonize a powerful southern congressional bloc--refused to endorse legislation that openly sought to improve political, economic, and social conditions for African Americans. Instead, as historian Lauren Rebecca Sklaroff shows, the administration recognized and celebrated African Americans by offering federal support to notable black intellectuals, celebrities, and artists.

Sklaroff illustrates how programs within the Federal Arts Projects and several war agencies gave voice to such notable African Americans as Lena Horne, Joe Louis, Duke Ellington, and Richard Wright, as well as lesser-known figures. She argues that these New Deal programs represent a key moment in the history of American race relations, as the cultural arena provided black men and women with unique employment opportunities and new outlets for political expression. Equally important, she contends that these cultural programs were not merely an attempt to appease a black constituency but were also part of the New Deal's larger goal of promoting a multiracial nation. Yet, while federal projects ushered in creativity and unprecedented possibilities, they were also subject to censorship, bigotry, and political machinations.

With numerous illustrations, Black Culture and the New Deal offers a fresh perspective on the New Deal's racial progressivism and provides a new framework for understanding black culture and politics in the Roosevelt era.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Offers a fresh perspective on the New Deal's racial progressivism and a new framework for understanding black culture and politics in the Roosevelt era and beyond.—SirReadaLot.org

A nuanced and highly effective exploration of the discourses about race and inequality in the theater, radio, print culture, and motion pictures of the era. . . . Makes a major contribution to the history of the era.—Reviews in American History

Provid[es] a refreshing new perspective on the ways in which African Americans carved out spaces for civil rights activism in public life. . . . A valuable addition to the growing history of the 'long' civil rights movement.—H-Net Reviews

Sklaroff's book convincingly reveals the New Deal era as an important and underexamined link in the related narratives of African American cultural development and the civil rights movement.—African American Review

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780807899243
Publisher:
The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date:
12/01/2009
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
328
File size:
4 MB

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
Sklaroff makes an important contribution by complicating our understanding of the end of the Harlem Renaissance. Black Culture and the New Deal demonstrates how art both served and undermined opposition to the dominant political culture.—Jeffrey T. Sammons, New York University

Meet the Author

Lauren Rebecca Sklaroff is assistant professor of history at the University of South Carolina.

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