The Nation's First Black Think Tank Fought Racism And This Happened

Mary McLeod Bethune meets Eleanor Roosevelt
Leslie Taylor-Grover
June 5, 2020

FDR had just taken office, and Black voters had essentially put him there. Aside from dealing with the effects of the Great Depression, he could not ignore another social issue tearing apart the country.

Racism was responsible for a major split in political parties. Democrats were responsible for much of Jim Crow, so most Black people voted Republican.

FDR wanted to change this, so he reached out to Black educators, activists, and leaders. He looked to them for advice, and hired several to work in his administration. But there was something even more important to deal with.

He needed Black input on his New Deal legislation, meant to address the Great Depression.  

The massive plan revamped the workforce and included countless opportunities for housing and education. But of course, racism crept in.

The group of advisors, known as The Black Brain Trust, got him to outlaw discrimination in some aspects of the New Deal. They also pushed for anti-lynching legislation.

Southern Democrats, however, decided if lynching was outlawed, then they wouldn’t let ANY of the New Deal pass. But the Black Brain Trust kept fighting.

The New Deal did pass - without anti-lynching legislation. Of course, the fight still continues. When we are in positions to help and benefit our people, we must always do so, even in the face of racism.

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