How it Affected the Nation

Interview with Dossie Acklin (excerpt). Mr. Acklin was born December 19, 1910 in Pico, Alabama. In this interview Acklin discusses his life as a young black man growing up in Alabama, his education, sharecropping, and working as a farmer. He recounts life during the Great Depression .... [and] different programs that came about during the time of Roosevelt such as Social Security, WPA, CCC, etc. Courtesy of Eastern Kentucky University. [This is an audio file only.]

Unemployment, lack of access to bank funds, and a general collapse of world trade, meant many went hungry and homeless throughout the nation. Later, an environmental catastrophe known as the "Dust Bowl," affected thousands in the middle West of the United States, causing migrations illustrated in novels like John Steinbeck's, The Grapes of Wrath.

Particularly hard hit were African Americans and other minority populations, whose jobs were often taken away first and given to their white counterparts. In 1930, nearly 50% of black Americans were unemployed. It was this desperation -- from banking and manufacturing to unemployment and destitution -- that Roosevelt's New Deal meant to address.