Black Politics in New Deal Atlanta (The John Hope Franklin by Karen Ferguson

By Karen Ferguson

Whilst Franklin Roosevelt was once elected president in 1932, Atlanta had the South's biggest inhabitants of college-educated African americans. The dictates of Jim Crow intended that those women and men have been nearly completely excluded from public existence, yet as Karen Ferguson demonstrates, Roosevelt's New Deal opened unheard of possibilities for black Atlantans suffering to accomplish complete citizenship.

Black reformers, frequently operating inside of federal enterprises as social employees and directors, observed the inclusion of African americans in New Deal social welfare courses as an opportunity to organize black Atlantans to take their rightful position within the political and social mainstream. additionally they labored to construct a constituency they can mobilize for civil rights, within the approach facilitating a shift from elite reform to the mass mobilization that marked the postwar black freedom fight.

Although those reformers' efforts have been an important prelude to civil rights activism, Ferguson argues that additionally they had lasting destructive repercussions, embedded as they have been within the politics of respectability. by way of trying to impose bourgeois behavioral criteria at the black neighborhood, elite reformers stratified it into these they made up our minds deserving to take part in federal social welfare courses and people they consigned to stay on the margins of civic life.

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27 These divisions had intensified in the quarter century after the riot. For example, by the s the Neighborhood Union’s membership had lost the class diversity that had been its hallmark in its founding years. Such diversity was victim to the union’s success. As a pioneering social service agency in Atlanta, the ’s settlement-house work spurred a flowering of black social-work activities in the city, including the founding of the Atlanta School of Social Work () in . The institutionalization and professionalization of social work implicit in such developments dramatically changed the union’s character.

Both her aunts, however, were public school teachers, the predominant black profession, and they and their friends indoctrinated Dove in the importance of college and the respectability of a teaching career. Attending Clark College (the co-ed school that followed Morehouse and Spelman in prestige) in the s, she obtained her d from  in . While in graduate school, she worked for a  summer program for working-class black children, an exceptionally challenging experience for Dove, who had ‘‘never had any work’’ with Atlanta’s black poor.

Leading the black reform elite were a number of key figures, including: Lugenia Burns Hope, who was also a local  leader; Forrester B. Washington,  president and future  branch president; Jesse O. Thomas and Reginald Johnson, respectively Southern and Atlanta Urban League secretaries; A. T. Walden, lawyer and president of the Atlanta branch of the , as well as national committeeman for that civil rights organization; J. Raymond Henderson, the militant pastor of Wheat Street Baptist Church, the largest black church in Atlanta; and W.

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