What Was Life Like for African-Americans in the South in the 1930s?

Life for African Americans in the American South in the 1930s was not easy: they faced racial discrimination, a nearly constant threat of violence and far fewer employment opportunities than whites. The economic situation in the 1930s was grim at best, even downright dire. In most areas, the few jobs that were available went to whites, who generally had better access to education and important social services like health care and subsidies.

The onset of the Great Depression in the late 1920s only added fuel to the fire of inequality and segregation faced by the African American community across the southern states. The abolishment of slavery afforded African Americans a glimmer of hope, but their collective vision of opportunity and social advancement was quickly quelled when the nation sank into a deep depression. As the national economic situation worsened, African Americans were the first to lose their jobs, and very few found alternative places of employment. The jobless rate for African Americans throughout the South during the 1930s was at least twice, and in some locations three times, higher than that of whites. Adding insult to injury, very little aid was distributed by the state and federal governments to African American communities: health care and food stamps were virtually nonexistent for African Americans, and some charitable organizations and soup kitchens refused to serve them at all.