By Karen Ferguson
While Franklin Roosevelt was once elected president in 1932, Atlanta had the South's biggest inhabitants of college-educated African american citizens. The dictates of Jim Crow intended that those women and men have been virtually solely excluded from public existence, yet as Karen Ferguson demonstrates, Roosevelt's New Deal opened extraordinary possibilities for black Atlantans suffering to accomplish complete citizenship.
Black reformers, frequently operating inside of federal firms 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. in addition they labored to construct a constituency they can mobilize for civil rights, within the strategy facilitating a shift from elite reform to the mass mobilization that marked the postwar black freedom fight.
Although those reformers' efforts have been a necessary prelude to civil rights activism, Ferguson argues that additionally they had lasting unfavorable repercussions, embedded as they have been within the politics of respectability. through trying to impose bourgeois behavioral criteria at the black neighborhood, elite reformers stratified it into these they decided 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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Extra resources for Black Politics in New Deal Atlanta (The John Hope Franklin Series in African American History and Culture)
37 According to their uplift ideology, this group also sought to reform nonelite black Atlantans. In the early s the Neighborhood Union, the , and the black branches of the , , and the Atlanta Tuberculosis Association all ‘‘organized’’ poor blacks by sex and occupation into a variety of clubs and programs like Pearlie Dove’s summer class a decade later. These eﬀorts attempted to instill in their participants notions of respectability and citizenship, teaching them ‘‘how to lead a happier home life through home and self improvement,’’ and fostering ‘‘activities in the ﬁelds of education and recreation .
In short, black Atlantans, even if they resided in the middle-class enclaves of Auburn Avenue or on the west side or within the gates of the colleges, were reminded every day of their marginal position in the city by police harassment, their neighborhoods’ lack of city services, or their homes’ proximity to a city dump. 12 While the Atlanta riot marked the retrenchment of Jim Crow in Atlanta, it also produced a revitalization of black community life as African Ameri- The Wheel within a Wheel cans fought back and sought to protect themselves from the white onslaught.
They formed the interchangeable executives of Atlanta’s most prominent black social work and civil rights agencies. 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.