Was the New Deal Racist?

The words “freedom and justice for all,” are recited daily across America, even as we as a nation have historically fallen far short. The New Dealers faced the daunting task of overcoming long-established patterns of racial order. Eleanor Roosevelt, Harold Ickes, Frances Perkins, Harry Hopkins and many others were outspoken critics of such discrimination and made a systematic effort to include people of color in New Deal programs. FDR himself proclaimed, “We are trying to construct a more inclusive society. We are going to make a country in which no one is left out.” Their overall achievement was impressive, if far from perfect. As the struggle for racial and economic justice continues, the New Deal’s lessons—for better and sometimes worse—are for learning. You’ll find some of them here.
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New Deal Maps

Check out our latest map and guide to the work of the New Deal in Washington, D.C. It includes 500 New Deal sites in the District alone, highlighting 34 notable sites, and includes an inset map of the area around the National Mall which can be used for self-guided walking tours.

Take a look at our previous guides, equally comprehensive, covering key New Deal sites in San Francisco and New York City.