Black Culture and the New Deal
The Quest for Civil Rights in the Roosevelt Era
Lauren Rebecca Sklaroff
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.