The Great Depression and the New Deal

Subject: History
Pages: 3
Words: 904
Reading time:
4 min
Study level: School


The economic and social disaster caused by the great depression remains to be unprecedented in history. The period which lasted for almost five years affected almost every sector of the economy in all the states between 1929 and 1932 during the reign of President Herbert Hoover. Hoover’s handling of the crisis was highly criticized as doing little to control the situation. However, President Franklin Roosevelt introduced a series of reforms through the New Deal program to support the most affected populations by the crisis (Week 6 Great Depression). However, the New Deal was highly criticized for being racist by discriminating against the minority, especially blacks. This paper analyzes the challenges that most Americas faced during the Great Depression crisis and how social justice was greatly undermined, especially for the African Americans seeking to enjoy the benefits of the New Deal.

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The Great Depression

Various theories have been developed to explain the events that caused the Great Depression. However, it is reported that the major symptom was the crashing of the stock market in October of 1929 (Week 6 Great Depression). The market collapse dealt a major blow to the investors causing, forcing investments to drop and significantly reducing consumer expenditure. Most investors had engaged in very high-risk investments for quick and heavy returns. However, since the country’s economy was majorly based on the boom/bust form, it steadily rose, but due to unregulated policies that reduced government intervention, some of the sectors started crashing. Consequently, industrial production declined steeply, forcing many workers to be laid off, thus increasing the high unemployment levels (Week 6 Great Depression). Consequently, poverty and homelessness increased significantly in many parts of the country. Most people could afford their basic needs. They had to travel from one state to another seeking employment. Due to increased human suffering, crime and social injustice rose significantly. As a result, cases of suicides steadily rose.

The New Deal

The New Deal was a relief for the people. It was meant to address the people’s challenges due to the Great Depression. The program involved introducing public works projects, reforming the financial sector, and introducing regulations in the economy (McGhee 55). The reforms were executive orders by President Roosevelt and laws passed by Congress. The reforms aimed to offer the unemployed workers, the homeless, and the poor relief to cover the economy to levels that would create jobs, allow increased industrialization, and prevent the reoccurrence of another Great Depression by reforming the financial sector (McGhee 114). For the republicans, the entire New Deal was viewed as hostile to making businesses succeed. They believed that regulating the economy through various government interventions denied the business the ability to operate independently, thus slowing expansion and economic growth.

Social Injustice

However, the New Deal was not a fair deal for the minority groups such as African Americans. It was viewed as highly biased to favor the white majority, leaving African Americans with little chance to enjoy the white community’s benefits (McGhee 64). While President Roosevelt was a known civil rights activist, he was forced to lower his guard on discrimination stance and support the Southern State politicians to back him in passing major reforms in the New Deal (McGhee 84). For instance, priority for decent jobs was given to the white workers in the employment sector. Most African Americans were subjected to lower pay and manual work. Most of the job positions traditionally occupied by black workers were not included in the Social Security Act. In the mortgage sector, the Federal Housing Authority failed to guarantee blacks mortgages in white neighborhoods.

Racism has been deeply rooted in the United States society giving little chance of survival to people of color. The blacks continue to suffer various social injustices that make them disadvantaged. For instance, McGhee argues that black students tend to pay more fees for college than their white counterparts due to high interest rates because they have no wealth they can inherit from their parents (McGhee 46). There is also selective college admission giving white students a chance to compete amongst themselves than among the underrepresented minority in the job market.

The black community has also continued to suffer in terms of representation in elective positions. McGhee argues that it is difficult for a black aspirant to get elected by the whites. Even the white politicians who campaign for the rights of blacks and other minority groups are at risk of committing career suicide because the dynamics of the US electorate tend to favor white supremacists over civil rights activists (McGhee 181). Various policies enacted to restrict the voting rights of people of color are still being practiced today. The voter registration process has been modified to make it difficult for low-income earners and minority groups to register as eligible voters. According to McGhee, the biased registration process restricted almost 20 percent of voters from participating in the 2016 elections.


In conclusion, the Great Depression caused much suffering to the American population leading to increased human suffering. The introduction of reforms under the New Deal significantly revived the economy and brought social reforms. However, the benefits of the reforms were often selective in favor of the whites. African Americans continue to fight for a fair share in a society dominated by white supremacists. Discrimination has prompted writers and social activists such as Heather McGhee to highlight the challenges that minority groups continue to experience in American society.

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Works Cited

McGhee, Heather C. The Sum of Us. 1st ed., One World, 2021.

Week 6 Great Depression. 2022, Web.