The realignment of black voters indigenous the Republican Party to theDemocratic Party that started in the so late 1920s proliferated throughout thisera. This procedure involved a “push and also pull”: the refuse by Republicansto pursue civil civil liberties alienated countless black voters, while efforts—shallowthough lock were—by north Democrats to open avenues forAfrican Americans offered black voters reasons to move parties.26

The 1932 presidential contest between incumbent Republican PresidentHerbert Hoover and Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt was somethingof a turning point. Throughout his very first term, Hoover had tried come ingratiatehimself with southern segregationists, and his management had failedto implement economic policies to help African american laid short by theGreat Depression. Still, Hoover received between two-thirds and also three-quartersof the black vote in northern urban wards.27 many black voterssided with Republicans less out of loyalty than because they to be loath tosupport a candidate whose democratic Party had actually zealously suppressedtheir political legal rights in the South. African Americans mistrusted FDRbecause the his party affiliation, his evasiveness about race in the campaign,and his choice of a running mate, residence Speaker man Nance Garner ofTexas.28

As late as the mid-1930s, african American Republican john R. Lynch, who had represented Mississippi in the residence during and afterReconstruction, summed up the sentiments that older black color voters andupper middle-class professionals: “The colored voter cannot aid butfeel that in poll the democratic ticket in nationwide elections they will bevoting to offer their indorsement and also their approval to every not correct ofwhich they space victims, every ideal of i m sorry they room deprived, and everyinjustice of which they suffer.”29


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/tiles/non-collection/b/baic_cont_3_depriest_oscar_smithsonian_-618ns0227109-01pm.xml photo courtesy of Scurlock Studio Records, Archives Center, nationwide Museum that American gendergeek.org, Smithsonian school Born in Alabama, Representative Oscar De Priest came to be the very first African American chosen from the North and also the first to be chosen in the 20th century.

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Illinois’s first Congressional District offers a home window into the processof black political realignment in northern cities. Former to becoming solidlyDemocratic in 1934, the south Chicago district elected Republican Oscar De monk in 1928, 1930, and 1932. Southern African Americans, whoswelled the city’s populace during that duration giving it the second-largesturban black population in the country by 1930, encountered one establishedRepublican machine that courted black voters and also extended patronagejobs. The party offered these migrants an outlet because that political participationthat was unimaginable in the Jim crow South. Afri Americans votedin droves for machine politicians choose William Hale (Big Bill) Thompson,who regularly corralled at least 60 percent that the vote in the majority-blackSecond and third Wards. Mayor Thompson and also the device promotedblack politicians such as De monk who, in 1915, ended up being the city’s firstAfrican-American alderman, the indistinguishable of a city councilman. Blackvoters stayed exceedingly faithful to the Republican ticket.30

Indeed, the most usual political suffer African-American Membersof this era shared was your involvement in politics at the ward andprecinct levels. The Chicago political equipments run by Thompson and,later, democrats such as Edward J. Kelly and also Richard J. Daley, sent nearlyone-third of the black Members of this era come Capitol Hill. Regional andregional political machines known the voting strength of the growingAfrican-American urban population long prior to the nationwide partiesrealized the potential. At the beginning of this era, the connection betweenblack politicians and also party bosses to be strong, and many black color Membersof Congress placed party loyalty over all else. However by the so late 1960s, asblack politicians began to assemble their own power bases, carving out ameasure the independence, they often challenged the an equipment when partyinterests conflicted with issues important to the black community. Unlikeearlier black Members that relied on the developed political equipments tolaunch their careers, this Members, many of whom had grown up in thecities lock represented, regulated to build political bases different from thedominant party structure. By linking familial and also community connectionswith widespread public engagement, they on regular basis clashed with theentrenched political powers.31

Discontent with the Hoover administration’s halting efforts to revivethe Depression-era economy additionally loosened African-American ties to theRepublican Party. Nationally, the staggering jae won collapse fight blackAmericans harder than most other groups. Thousands had already lostagricultural work in the mid-1920s as result of the decreasing cotton market.32Others had actually lost industrial jobs in the first stages of economic contraction,so black employees nationally were already in the grips of an economicdepression before the stock market collapsed in October 1929. Through theearly 1930s, 38 percent of afri Americans to be unemployed comparedto 17 percent that whites.33 A Roosevelt management study discovered thatblack Americans comprised 20 percent of anyone on the welfare rolls,even despite they accounted for just 10 percent that the full population.In Chicago, one-fourth that welfare recipients to be black, although blackresidents comprised just 6 percent that the city’s total population.34


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/tiles/non-collection/b/baic_cont_3_african-americans-wwii-224-Bethune-and-E-Roosevelt-PBA-10-F-561.xml image courtesy the the nationwide Archives and Records management At the urging of an initial Lady Eleanor Roosevelt (center), mary McLeod Bethune (left), a top African-American educator, was appointed come head the department of black Affairs that the nationwide Youth Administration.
Some African-American politicians in the early 1930s switched partiesto development their very own careers while concurrently helping their blackcommunities.35Arthur Mitchell and William Dawson epitomized ayounger cadre of afri Americans that were “ambitious and impatientwith the entrenched black color Republican leadership, a opportunity forpersonal development in the concurrent increase of the nationwide Democraticparty.”36 paid to speak on instead of of Hoover’s 1928 presidential campaign,Mitchell encountered the De Priest campaign at a Chicago engagementand quickly thereafter joined De Priest’s second Ward constant RepublicanOrganization, hoping to challenge De monk in the major election.But after analyzing De Priest’s control of the machine, Mitchellswitched parties to project for Roosevelt in 1932. Two years later, hesuccessfully unseated De Priest, also though the incumbent kept themajority that the black vote. Mitchell ended up being the an initial African Americanelected come Congress as a Democrat—running mainly on a platform thattapped into urban black support for the financial relief noted byNew deal programs. “I was elected partly on the achievement of youradministration,” Mitchell wrote President Roosevelt shortly after startinghis ax in office, “and partly on the promise the I would stand backof your administration.”37

Even much more telling to be the defection that De Priest’s protégé, WilliamDawson, who won election to the Chicago city council together a Republican withDe Priest’s backing in 1932. 6 years later, Dawson beat De Priestin the 1938 GOP primary, yet failed come unseat Mitchell in the generalelection. Dawson then shed his chair on the city council as soon as De Priestallies clogged his re-nomination. Yet Dawson soon seized one opportunityextended by his one-time opponents. Functioning with democratic mayoralincumbent Ed Kelly, Dawson readjusted parties and also became Democraticcommitteeman in the 2nd Ward, clearing a path to succeed Mitchellupon his retirement native the home in 1942. Dawson’s case epitomized thewillingness of autonomous bosses choose Kelly come recruit afri Americans byusing their political machines.38

Additionally, black color voters nationwide started leaving the Republican Partybecause that the growing perception the local democratic organizationsbetter represented their interests. Local patronage positions and also nationallyadministered emergency relief program in Depression-era Chicago andother cities, for instance, proved an important in attracting African-Americansupport.39 when the brand-new Deal failed to prolong as much economic reliefto black Americans regarding whites, the tangible help they providedconferred a sense that the system was at the very least addressing a few issuesthat were necessary to afri Americans. For those who had beenmarginalized or ignored because that so long, also the greatly symbolic initiatives ofthe Roosevelt management inspired hope and renewed attention in thepolitical process.40

As the older generation of black color voters disappeared, the Democraticmachines that conquered northern city wards courted the next generationof black voters. By 1936 only 28 percent of afri Americans nationallyvoted because that Republican nominee Alf Landon—less than half the numberwho had voted because that Hoover just 4 years before.41 end time, the partyaffiliations of black Americans in Congress became equally one-sided.Including Oscar De Priest, just nine black color Republicans to be electedto Congress in between 1929 and also 2017—about 7 percent that the AfricanAmericans to serve in that time span.42

The limits of brand-new Deal Reform

Despite the cultivation support from black color voters, president Franklin D.Roosevelt stayed aloof and also ambivalent about black polite rights. Hiseconomic policies depended on the support of southern congressionalleaders, and also FDR refuse to threat that support by challenging segregationin the South. During Roosevelt’s an initial term, the management focusedsquarely on mitigating the financial travails the the Depression. Thisrequired a near working partnership with Congresses dominated byracially conservative southern Democrats, including several speaker andmost the the chairmen of an essential committees. “Economic reconstruction tookprecedence end all other concerns,” observed chronicler Harvard Sitkoff.“Congress organized the power of the purse, and the South organized power inCongress.”43


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/tiles/non-collection/b/baic_cont_3_anti-lynching_protest_1927_LC-USZ62-110578.xml image courtesy of the Library of congress Members that the NAACP new York City Youth board of directors picket in 1937 on instead of of anti-lynching legislation in front of the Strand theatre in new York City’s times Square. That very same year one anti-lynching bill passed the U.S. gendergeek.org, however died in the Senate.
Other institutional and structural reforms applied by theadministration, however, overshadowed the President’s impassivity towardblack civil legal rights activists.44 absent Roosevelt’s hand-operated involvement,progressive brand-new Dealers advanced the reason of african Americans,transforming how many black voters viewed the democratic Party.45First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt prodded her husband come be an ext responsiveand cultivated connections v black leaders, such as educator andwomen’s civil liberties activist mar McLeod Bethune. One historian describedthe very first Lady as an “unofficial ombudsman because that the Negro.”46 Harold Ickes,a vital Roosevelt appointee and Secretary that the interior Department, wasanother influential advocate for African Americans. A former president ofthe Chicago national Association because that the advance of fancy People(NAACP) and also a one-time Republican, Ickes banned distinction from hisdepartment; other executive agencies followed his example. Together director ofthe Public functions Administration, Ickes also stipulated that the agency’sfederal home builders must hire a portion of black color employees same toor greater than their percent of the workforce recorded in the 1930occupational census.47

The fail to pass anti-lynching law underscored the limitationsof reform under FDR. In this instance—unlike in the at an early stage 1920s whenthere to be no black color Representatives in Congress—an African-AmericanMember of Congress, Arthur Mitchell, refused to endorse legislationsupported by the NAACP. Moreover, Mitchell introduced his very own anti-lynchingbill in the 74th conference (1935–1937), which critics assailedas weak for providing far more lenient sentences and containing manylegal ambiguities. Provided the choice, Southerners favored Mitchell’s bill,although castle amended it significantly in the Judiciary Committee, further weakening its provisions. Meanwhile, Mitchell waged a publicrelations blitz on instead of of his bill, consisting of a national radio broadcast.Only when reformers convincingly tabled Mitchell’s proposal early on in the75th conference (1937–1939) did the enlist in the campaign to assistance theNAACP measure—smarting native the realization that Judiciary CommitteeChairman Hatton Sumners the Texas had misled and also used him. The NAACPmeasure happen the residence in April 1937 by a vote of 277 come 120 but wasnever enacted into law. Instead, Southerners in the Senate effectivelyburied the in early on 1938 by blocking initiatives to bring it come an up-or-down voteon the floor.48 The rivalry in between Mitchell and the NAACP, meanwhile,forecast future problems. Importantly, that revealed that African-AmericanMembers and outside advocacy teams sometimes worked at cross-purposes,confounding civil rights supporters in Congress and also providingopponents a wedge because that blocking legislation.

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Footnotes

26See, because that example, Nancy Weiss’s treatment in Farewell come the Party of Lincoln: Black national politics in the period of FDR (Princeton, NJ: Princeton university Press, 1983). Because that “push and pull,” check out Michael Fauntroy, Republicans and also the black color Vote (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 2007): 41, 42–55.

27Ample literature exists on the movement of black voters indigenous the Republican Party come the democratic Party: Weiss, Farewell to the Party the Lincoln; Donald J. Lisio, Hoover, Blacks & Lily-Whites: A study of southerly Strategies (Chapel Hill: university of phibìc Carolina Press, 1985); Richard Sherman, The Republican Party and also Black America indigenous McKinley to Hoover, 1896–1933 (Charlottesville: college of Virginia Press, 1973): 134–144.

28Lisio, Hoover, Blacks & Lily-Whites: A examine of southern Strategies: 260–266; Sherman, The Republican Party and also Black America native McKinley to Hoover, 1896–1933: 134–144.

29See Harold F. Gosnell, Negro Politicians: The rise of Negro national politics in Chicago (New York: AMS Press, 1969; reprint the 1935 university of Chicago push edition): 24–25.

30For much more on the elevator of the city’s Republican politics during this period, watch Rita Werner Gordon, “The change in the politics Alignment the Chicago’s Negroes during the brand-new Deal,” Journal of American background 56 (1969): 586–588.

31See, for example, Clay, Bill Clay: A politics Voice at the Grass Roots: 1–6.

32For an analysis of exactly how the agricultural collapse in the South added to black color political activism, check out Doug McAdam, Political process and the advancement of black Insurgency, 1930–1970 (Chicago: college of Chicago Press, 1982): specifically 65–116.

33John hope Franklin and also Alfred A. Moss, Jr., From slavery to Freedom: A background of african Americans, 8th ed. (New York: Knopf, 2000): 421.

34See Franklin and Moss, From enslavement to Freedom: A background of afri Americans:421–422; David M. Kennedy, freedom From Fear: The American human being inDepression and War, 1929–1945 (New York: Oxford college Press, 1999): 87,164; see likewise Lester Chandler, America’s great Depression (New York: Harper andRow, 1970): 40. The national and local GOP’s i can not qualify to minimize African-Americaneconomic distress play a function in the activity of afri Americans away fromthe party, return in 1932 black Chicagoans stayed loyal to the Republican Partybecause the brand-new Democratic mayoral administration stripped so numerous black cityemployees that patronage jobs conferred by the old Thompson machine. Watch Gordon,“The change in the politics Alignment that Chicago’s Negroes throughout the brand-new Deal”:591–592.

35Weiss, Farewell come the Party the Lincoln: 78–95. See additionally William J. Grimshaw, Bitter Fruit: black Politics and also the Chicago Machine, 1931–1991 (Chicago: The college of Chicago Press, 1992): 47–68.

36Weiss, Farewell come the Party the Lincoln: 78.

37Ibid., 88.

38Ibid., 89–95.

39Ibid., 212. One more scholar clues to 2 “stages” the Chicago’s black political realignment: the first consisting of it is registered at the polls in 1936 choice (the solution to brand-new Deal emergency relief measures) and the latter emerging in 1944, once the national party under FDR adopted a larger civil legal rights reform agenda. Check out Grimshaw, Bitter Fruit: 52–53; see additionally Gordon, “The change in the politics Alignment of Chicago’s Negroes during the new Deal”: 603.

40Weiss, Farewell to the Party of Lincoln: 227.

41Even in the South, african Americans were drawn toward sustaining the nationalDemocratic Party that Roosevelt and, later, Truman. “Now, if anybody thinks weought to leave this autonomous ship and jump back into the southerly Republicanskeleton and help put part meat top top its bones, lock have acquired some an ext thoughtcoming,” created a black color newspaper editorialist in 1947. “Brethren, we had actually too harda time getting on this ship and also we room going to stay, sink or swim.” Quoted in V. O.Key, Southern politics in State and also Union (Knoxville: University press of Tennessee,1984): 291; originally published by C. Blythe Andres, 29 November 1947, FloridaSentinel (Tampa); Fauntroy, Republicans and also the black Vote: 56.

42The various other black Republicans were Edward Brooke that Massachusetts, Melvin Evans of the Virgin Islands, Gary Franks that Connecticut, J. C. Watts of Oklahoma, Allen West the Florida, Tim Scott of southern Carolina, Mia Love of Utah, and William Hurd that Texas.

43Harvard Sitkoff, A new Deal because that Blacks: The emergence of Civil legal rights as a national Issue: The Depression decade (New York: Oxford university Press, 1981): 44–46; quotation on web page 51.

44For a current study arguing that judiciary plans pursued by the Roosevelt management had an important effect top top future can be fried Court civil civil liberties rulings, check out Kevin McMahon, Reconsidering Roosevelt ~ above Race: exactly how the Presidency paved the road to Brown (Chicago: The college of Chicago Press, 2004): particularly 7–8, 177–202, 218–222.

45For one overview, check out Fauntroy, Republicans and also the black color Vote:45–47.

46On Eleanor Roosevelt generally, check out Sitkoff, A new Deal for Blacks: 58–62; quotation on page 60. For a recent, an extensive treatment of Eleanor Roosevelt, see Allida Black, Casting Her very own Shadow: Eleanor Roosevelt and also the Shaping of Postwar freedom (New York: Columbia college Press, 1996).

47Sitkoff, A brand-new Deal for Blacks: 66–69.

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48For Mitchell’s motivations, view Dennis S. Nordin, The brand-new Deal’s black color Congressman: A Life that Arthur Wergs Mitchell (Columbia: college of Missouri Press, 1997): 210–221. Because that the bigger anti-lynching campaign in 1936 and also 1937, see Robert L. Zangrando, The NAACP Crusade against Lynching: 1909–1950 (Philadelphia: holy place University Press, 1980): 139–165. Because that the legislative action on lynching through a southern woman in the U.S. Senate in the 1930s, check out “Dixie Bibb Graves,” in Office of gendergeek.org and Preservation, Women in Congress, 1917–2006: 169–171.