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President Franklin Roosevelt & His Black Cabinet

With the entrance of each new administration we now hear about the importance of making the presidentÆs cabinet ôlook like Americaö. That resemblance is never actually achieved, of course, if only because each American has a different idea of what it is that America really looks like. But amid the complex politics of inclusion û at least when a Democrat is in the White House it is easy to overlook how far it is that we have actually come just over the course of the 20th century in terms of acknowledging that the differing experiences of different racial groups are all valid and that they must be included in an administration if the country is to be well run.

Many people deserve credit for bringing African-American voices into the mainstream of the national political process. But one of the people who deserves a fair measure of credit is often forgotten in the midst of the substantial achievements of later civil rights leaders. But Franklin Delano Roosevelt must also receive credit. This paper examines his ôblack Cabinetö and the people in it and the lasting importance of such an informal organization on the national culture.

RooseveltÆs reliance on black leaders came about in large measure because his administration's accessibility to black leaders. New Deal reforms had strengthened black support for the Democratic party and blacks and other Democrats began to find common ground in a number of areas. The black leaders who were members of the so-called "black Cabinet" were frequent and trusted advisors to Roosevelt. Among them were the educator Mary McLeod Bethune, who served as the National Youth Administration's director of Negro affairs; William H. Hastie, who in 1937 became the first black federal judge; Eugene K. Jones, executive secretary of the National Urban League; Robert Vann, editor of the Pittsburgh Courier; and the economist Robert C. Weaver (Mier, 1982, p. 38). Roosevelt gathered these advisors for two distinc...

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President Franklin Roosevelt & His Black Cabinet. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 10:26, May 28, 2020, from