What Were the Conditions for Minorities During the Great Depression?

During the Great Depression, minorities were faced with heightened discrimination in employment, denial of service at relief centers and increased violence against African-Americans in the South. Many "New Deal" laws did not provide equal rights for minorities; in fact, the "New Deal" was known as the "Raw Deal" among minorities.

While unemployment rates for whites were 25% during the Great Depression, they increased to 50% among minorities. Jobs were being denied to minority workers, or their employment terminated, and they were excluded from union membership. Unions put pressure on Congress to keep anti-discrimination measures out of laws being enacted as part of the New Deal. To keep the Democratic party together and to get the laws passed, President Franklin D. Roosevelt supported targeting these laws at unemployed white males. As a result, African-American and other minority workers were either shut out of jobs, forced to work at lower wages or deported. It wasn't until the mid-1930s that things began to improve with the creation of the U.S. Office of Indian Affairs, federal support of tribal traditions and governments, the end of discrimination in certain federal programs and ear-marking of relief funds for African-Americans. However, similar gains were not realized by Mexican-Americans or Asian-Americans.