Segregated Camps for African Americans

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"Typists in Headquarters of Commanding Officers," 1936. Courtesy of the New York Public Library.

Because of prevailing racism, many of the CCC enrollment districts in southern states saw greater need to enroll unemployed white men and deliberately excluded black men from much-needed work opportunities. Many state and national selection agents for the CCC noted that there were greater percentages of white men enrolled than would be expected from the population figures of particular counties. W. Frank Persons, who was in charge of selection for the CCC, was the main administrator who dealt with selection issues for African Americans. He  raised questions and at times attempted to change the minds of local CCC selection agents.

When CCC camps were established, many local communities objected to the locations of the African American camps. The NAACP monitored and protested systemic CCC discrimination against African Americans. Generally the CCC director Fechner supported strict segregation, and, when faced with African American enrollment issues, decided to restrict African American enrollees in response. While the camps set in southern states were segregated, some northern camps incorporated black men, although they were seldom able to obtain the higher paying supervisory jobs of white men.

Despite segregation and exclusion, nearly all of the African American men who were selected took part in the additional educational opportunities provided to them by the program, gaining skills and job training in addition to the economic benefits associated with the work.