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The Black Cabinet - The Untold Story of African Americans and Politics During the Age of Roosevelt - cover

The Black Cabinet - The Untold Story of African Americans and Politics During the Age of Roosevelt

Jill Watts

Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press

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Summary

Watts’s The Black Cabinet is the first of its kind full-scale in-depth examination of Roosevelt’s Black Cabinet.The Black Cabinet traces an arc directly from Reconstruction to the Black Cabinet assembled for Theodore Roosevelt and subsequently disbanded by Taft and Wilson, past the New Deal era to the March on Washington and the Civil Rights Movement. It is a missing link in a continuous African American fight to be treated as equal citizensRoosevelt’s Black Cabinet was a diverse group made up of social scientists, legal minds, educators, politicos, and journalists who sought to get the black community’s needs on the table during the New Deal, a time when Black Americans were in even direr economic straits than whites.Because the Democratic Party of the day was so dependent on Southern white votes, Roosevelt never publicly acknowledged the Black Cabinet and only met personally with a tiny number of its members. Besides a red-baiting Senator, its name was never spoken aloud except in the black press, which has been underexploited as a source by historians. As a result Mary McLeod Bethune, a celebrity in her day, is the only one of these figures who has made it into the mainstream historical record; Watts has uncovered a rich story here.From assimilation and accommodation vs protest, #OwnVoices leadership vs working with white leadership, and down to the very basic question of whom the federal government is supposed to serve and protect, and what the unique history of and resulting challenges facing African Americans entitles them to, The Black Cabinet demonstrates that events that happened 75+ years ago share themes ripped from today’s headlines.Watts’s narrative synthesizes the story of the Black Cabinet, which at one time numbered over a hundred, into a character-driven story focusing in on five key figures, tracing them from their infancy in politics to their ascent into key powerful positions.For fans of The Warmth of Other Suns, The New Jim Crow, and The New Negro.

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