African Americans and the Democratic Party
: Sue Pennington, Wilde Lake High School, Howard County PublicSchools
Duration of lesson
: 2 periods
:Having aligned themselves with the Republican Party since the days of Abraham Lincoln, what made African Americans switch to the Democrats duringthe Depression Era? This lesson explores why African Americans voted for Franklin Roosevelt, despite the fact that the Democratic Party had traditionallydenied them basic civil rights. Using primary sources and a variety of voicesfrom the period, students can discover how the Depression affected African- American workers, and why black voters switched their allegiance during theperiod. Students will also learn how Democrats and Republicans of the timeresponded to the call for civil rights. Roosevelt’s problem was that in order toretain his position of leadership, he had to keep the Southern Democrats – whotime and again denied African Americans the vote in their states – within theparty. Although Roosevelt made no move to reverse the legal segregation at thetime, he did invite several African-American leaders to serve as advisors to theadministration. He also ensured that African Americans had access to relief during the worst days of the Depression. Because of Roosevelt’s willingness toengage African Americans as Americans, he won their votes for the DemocraticParty for decades to come.
Related National History Standards:Content Standards:Era 8: The Great Depression and World War II (1929-1945)Standard 1:
The causes of the Great Depression and how itaffected American society.
Historical Thinking Standards:Standard 2: Historical ComprehensionA
. Reconstruct the literal meaning of a historical passage.
. Evidence historical perspectives.
Standard 3: Historical Analysis and InterpretationA
. Identify the author or source of the historical document or narrative.
. Consider multiple perspectives.
. Analyze cause-and-effect relationships and multiple causation,including the importance of the individual, the influence of ideas,and the role of chance.
Standard 4: Historical Research Capabilities