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Federal Discrimination & the Decline of National Black Politics in the Early 20th Century

Racial discrimination in federal offices during the presidency of Woodrow Wilson implicated the United States government in the economic limitation of African Americans in the early twentieth century. The Civil Service's stable pay and chance for promotion had helped to foster a vibrant black middle class in the nation's capital. This promising island in Jim Crow America was maintained by a political patronage coalition of black and white Republican politicians. Patronage was a fundamental element of American politics. This talk will reveal how African Americans used federal employment to establish a bulwark against a rising tide of racism in the United States. When Wilson's Democrats came to Washington in the spring of 1913, they brought with them an administrative ideology that combined progressive politics and white supremacy. The result was diminished political power and fewer economic opportunities for African Americans in Washington, D.C. Speaker Biography: Eric Yellin is assistant professor of history and American studies at the University of Richmond.
Length: 59:19

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