Great Depression's Effects

On Americans, Most Specifically Minorities

What Did It Mean To Be An American in the Depression Era?

To be an American in the delression era was to struggle. Everyone, poor and rich alike, had to struggle and fight to simply survive. While multiple cultural and racial groups experienced this strife differently than another, they all synonymously struggled together, which helped the differing groups to empathize with and connect to others.

Effect on Labor Unions

During this time period of the Great Depression, union membership drastically increased, from 3 million to 10 million members. This is due to the efforts of the C.I.O and its leader, John L. Lewis, to include and support a wider majority of unskilled workers that other union groups, such as the American Federation of Labor would not help. The C.I.O. and other newer unions found new ground through the use of strikes in the motor and steel industries. Another victory for the unions came from the passing of the Fair Labor Standards Act, which standardized hours and wages for workers.

Effect on Women

Pressure on women in the home increased as their husbands remained unemployed and searched for employment. The total labor force women increased as a whole as their income was necessary to maintain the household. They were ultimately blamed and claimed to be stealing men's jobs and could still recieve lower wages than men

Dust Bowl Farmers

Drought and overuse of the rich topsoil left the already struggling Dust Bowl Farmers with even less; they were plagued by dwindling crops and the depression did nothing but aggravate this poverty for them. Many moved from areas such as Oklahoma west to California, called 'Oakies,' while others simply moved back east to find some sort of economic relief. However they received help in the Soil Conservation Service, which assisted farmers with proper farming techniques and methods of conserving water.

Effect on African Americans

African Americans felt some of the worst aftereffects of the Great Depression. They not only experienced continuous racial discrimination socially, but also in the job market. On top of that, they were often excluded from many of the New Deal programs that were supposed to help them in their struggles. While Elanor Roosevelt provided moral support for African Americans, it ultimately didn't compare to having a job and food. Through the use of protest the Fair Employment Practices Comittee was passed, which held minorities to recieve jobs. There were also efforts by Mary McLeod Bethune, a leader of women and education causes, to increase African American involvement in the New Deal.

Effect on Native Americans

John Collier, an advocate for Natives, became the commissioner of the Bureau of Indian Affairs in 1933, and worked to gain rights and include Natives in New Deal programs as well as conservation projects by the CCC on reservations. The Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 contradicted the Dawes Act of 1887, instead returning control of tribes to Natives and allowing them to follow their own culture versus conforming to American agricultural practices.

Effect on Mexican Americans

Mexican Americans also faced severe discrimination in the 30's, with the numerous white migrant workers forcing them out of their jobs and oppurtunities in the agriculturally abundant Southwest. This was a key factor in many Mexicans returning home to Mexico in order to find some form of employment.