Relief Provided During the Great Depression

The National Youth Administration, or NYA, and the Civilian Conservation Corps, or CCC, provided relief for the American youth, both black and white American. The out-of-school programs of the NYA taught various different trades that were beneficial to the war and 13 percent of the students in these programs were black. Roughly 10 percent of the student work program was African American. The NYA provided African Americans with a way to continue their education as far as graduate school. The CCC, however, kept a strict segregation policy but it employed 200,000 blacks in working camps. The CCC provided education which ended a large amount of illiteracy among African Americans.

Blacks benefited from the New Deal housing programs in two ways. Firstly, they were provided with better housing but the construction of these housing projects provided employment as well. The Home Owners Loan Corporation provided some African Americans with loans to pay their mortgages during the depression years while the Federal Housing Authority provided some with loans to build homes. Blacks were also adversely effected by banks in this system as well. Many lenders would not loan money to blacks because it was thought to be a bad credit risk and because they were not sure what would happen to the value of African American homes over time.

The Federal Public Housing Authority also provided local governments with money to build low cost housing projects which also benefited many African Americans. In some of these southern projects segregation was strict but nearly one-third of the houses constructed were eventually occupied by African Americans. The contracts these local governments would have would call for a proportionate amount of African Americans to be hired in the construction process. This was sometimes ignored, often times employing not only a disproportionate amount of whites but sometimes hiring no blacks at all.

The Works Progress Administration, or WPA, provided food and clothing and also jobs. Blacks were more often provided with food and clothing rather than jobs, leaving those for the white Americans. In some cities blacks found professional positions for example, writer, artist, or actor, however in other cities it was difficult for unskilled blacks find employment or receive any benefits of these government agencies. The Social Security Board provided assistance to aged Americans and unemployed Americans alike. This program excluded certain occupations including agriculture and domestic jobs, which were largely held by blacks. The Social Security Board would often times, more likely in the south, provide less benefits for older blacks than older white Americans.

Although many of these programs were outright racist, holding their segregationist ideals progress was made in breaking traditional discrimination. The NYA and the CCC educated hundreds of thousands of African Americans and also helped place many blacks in local governmental positions. The Depression also helped usher in the movement of African Americans from the Republican party to the Democratic party. Many blacks favored the policies of the New Deal and moved away from the Republican party. They also however took a more active interest and participation in politics.