Blacks in the New Deal: The Shift from an Electoral Tradition and ist Legacy

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No group of American minority voters shifted allegiance more dramatically in the 1930s than Black Americans did. Up until the New Deal era, Blacks had shown their traditional loyalty to the party of Lincoln by voting overwhelmingly the Republican ticket. By the end of F.D. Roosevelt’s first administration, however, they tremendously voted the Democratic ticket. The decades long, wholesale attachment of Blacks to the party of Lincoln, with its laudable efforts to support Blacks (Emancipation Proclamation and Reconstruction) was understandable and inevitable enough. The anomaly was the massive shift by Blacks to the Democratic Party, traditionally identified with its long list of constant anti-Black and premeditated opposition to Black liberation: opposition to emancipation and Reconstruction, and with an ongoing record of all forms of racial discrimination, segregation, disfranchisement, exclusion, white primaries, and white supremacy.
The transformation of the Black vote from solidly Republican to solidly Democratic did not happen instantaneously, but rather it developed over decades of maturing as a result of the amalgamated efforts of Presidents and Black leaders. The move of Black voters toward the Democratic Party was part of a nationwide trend that had occurred with the creation of the Roosevelt Coalition of1936. This national shift would make the Democrats the majority party for the next several decades including a very decisive margin of Black voters in the balance of power.

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