History: The modern U.S. Presidents’ views on race relations and the economy for African Americans

History: The modern U.S. Presidents’ views on race relations and the economy for African Americans

Dilemma X

Plessy v. Ferguson 1896

On May 18, 1896 the United States Supreme Court gave its ruling on the Plessy v. Ferguson case down a landmark decision upholding the constitutionality of state laws requiring racial segregation in public facilities under the doctrine of “separate but equal.”. This was the beginning of the end of Reconstruction. The decision was handed down by a vote of 7 to 1.

George Henry White

George Henry White, Republican was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from North Carolina between 1897 and 1901 and would be the last African American in Congress until Oscar De Priest was elected in 1928. No African American was elected to Congress from North Carolina until 1992.

White delivered his final speech in the House of Representatives on January 29, 1901:

“This is perhaps the Negroes’ temporary farewell to the American Congress, but let me say, Phoenix-like he will rise up some day and come again. These parting words are in behalf of an outraged, heart-broken, bruised and bleeding, but God-fearing people; faithful, industrious, loyal, rising people – full of potential force.”


William McKinley  

Term: March 4, 1897- September 14, 1901

President William McKinley visited Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University) December 16, 1898

William Mckinley visits Tuskegee 1898
Among the other domestic issues that occupied McKinley’s attention were race relations, trust regulation, labor relations, and the civil service. Unwilling to alienate the white South, the President did little to address the growing disfranchisement and exclusion of black Americans from political power.
McKinley denounced lynching in his 1897 inaugural address but failed to condemn that practice formally. He also refrained from taking action to curtail the general anti-black violence in the South that had reached near epidemic proportions in the last four years of the century. Instead, McKinley’s initiatives in race relations were largely cosmetic.
He appointed 30 African Americans to “positions of consequence,” which were principally in diplomatic and records offices, but that number fell far short of what black Republicans had wanted from the leader of Abraham Lincoln’s party. During the Spanish-American War, he countermanded orders preventing the recruitment and service of black soldiers. Neither of these actions did much to stem the deteriorating position of blacks in American society.
Source: University of Virginia- Miller Center

Video: Wilmington Racial Massacre and Coup D’Etat bringing Jim Crow into North Carolina and the nation

Video: Kent Chatfield on the 1898 Wilmington Riots and coup d’état

Video: When white supremacists overthrew a government -Wilmington, NC

Video: Historian John Hope Franklin on the 1898 Wilmington Riots
From 1947 to 1956, John Hope Franklin taught at Howard University. In 1983, Franklin was appointed the James B. Duke Professor of History at Duke University. In 1985, he took emeritus status from this position. Franklin was also Professor of Legal History at the Duke University Law School from 1985-1992. He died March 25, 2009.


No federal troops were sent because President William McKinley received no request for assistance from North Carolina Governor Russell. The U.S. Attorney General’s Office investigated, but the files were closed in 1900 with no indictments. African Americans nationwide rallied to the cause of Wilmington’s blacks and tried to pressure President McKinley into action.
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On Tuskegee Institute ‘s (now Tuskegee University’s) 25th anniversary in 1906 it brought prominent people to Booker T. Washington’s president’s home “The Oaks”, including then U.S. Secretary of War William Howard Taft (who would later become president in 1909), Harvard University president Charles W. Eliot, and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie.

1950s Mississippi

Waiting Room- Jim Crow Laws

Theodore Roosevelt

Term: September 14, 1901 – March 4, 1909

Theodore Roosevelt at Tuskegee with Booker T Washington 1905

President Theodore Roosevelt with Booker T. Washington at  Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University)

Theodore Roosevelt and Booker T Washington

Booker T. Washington (center, right) listens to Theodore Roosevelt (center, left) deliver a speech on stage at Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University), Alabama. On June 24, 1896, Booker T. Washington became the first African American to receive an honorary degree from Harvard University. Photo by American Press Association. -Theodore Roosevelt Collection

Video: Booker T. Washington become the first African American to have dinner at the White House with President Theodore Roosevelt

Video: Interview historian Deborah Davis on Booker T. Washington and Teddy Roosevelt’s historic White House dinner


On February 13, 1905

President Theodore Roosevelt delivers a stirring speech to the Lincoln Dinner of the Republican Club of the City of New York held at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel

Roosevelt had just won his second reelection, and in this speech, he discussed the country’s current state of race relations and his plan for improving them.


FEB 13, 1905

Mr. President, and you, my Fellow-Members of the Republican Club, and you, my Fellow-Guests of the Republican Club:

In his second inaugural, in a speech which will be read as long as the memory of this Nation endures, Abraham Lincoln closed by saying:

“With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; … to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves, and with all nations.”

Immediately after his re-election he had already spoken thus:

“The strife of the election is but human nature practically applied to the facts of the case. What has occurred in this case must ever recur in similar cases. Human nature will not change. In any future great national trial, compared with the men of this, we shall have as weak and as strong, as silly and as wise, as bad and as good. Let us, therefore, study the incidents of this as philosophy to learn wisdom from, and none of them as wrongs to be revenged. . . . May not all having a common interest reunite in a common effort to (serve) our common country ? For my own part, I have striven and shall strive to avoid placing any obstacle in the way. So long as I have been here I have not willingly planted a thorn in any man’s bosom. While I am deeply sensible to the high compliment of a reelection, and duly grateful, as I trust, to Almighty God for having directed my countrymen to a right conclusion, as I think, for their own good, it adds nothing to my satisfaction that any other man may be disappointed or pained by the result. May I ask those who have not differed with me to join with me in this same spirit toward those who have?”

This is the spirit in which mighty Lincoln sought to bind up the Nations wounds when its soul was yet seething with fierce hatreds, with wrath, with rancor, with all the evil and dreadful passions provoked by civil war. Surely this is the spirit which all Americans should show now, when there is so little excuse for malice or rancor or hatred, when there is so little of vital consequence to divide brother from brother.

Lincoln, himself a man of Southern birth, did not hesitate to appeal to the sword when he became satisfied that in no other way could the Union be saved, for high though he put peace he put righteousness still higher. He warred for the Union; he warred to free the slave; and when he warred he warred in earnest, for it is a sign of weakness to be half-hearted when blows must be struck. But he felt only love, a love as deep as the tenderness of his great and sad heart, for all his countrymen alike in the North and in the South, and he longed above everything for the day when they should once more be knit together in the unbreakable bonds of eternal friendship.

We of to-day, in dealing with all our fellow-citizens, white or colored, North or South, should strive to show just the qualities that Lincoln showed: His steadfastness in striving after the right, and his infinite patience and forbearance with those who saw that right less clearly than he did; his earnest endeavor to do what was best, and yet his readiness to accept the best that was practicable when the ideal best was unattainable; his unceasing effort to cure what was evil, coupled with his refusal to make a bad situation worse by any ill-judged or ill-timed effort to make it better.

The great Civil War in which Lincoln towered as the loftiest figure left us not only a reunited country, but a country which has the proud right to claim as its own glory won alike by those who wore the blue and by those who wore the gray, by those who followed Grant and by those who followed Lee ; for both fought with equal bravery and with equal sincerity of conviction, each striving for the light as it was given him to see the light; though it is now clear to all that the triumph of the cause of freedom and of the Union was essential to the welfare of mankind. We are now one people, a people with failings which we must not blink, but a people with great qualities in which we have the right to feel just pride.

All good Americans who dwell in the North must, because they are good Americans, feel the most earnest friendship for their fellow-countrymen who dwell in the South, a friendship all the greater because it is in the South that we find in its most acute phase one of the gravest problems before our people : the problem of so dealing with the man of one color as to secure him the rights that no one would grudge him if he were of another color. To solve this problem it is, of course, necessary to educate him to perform the duties a failure to perform which will render him a curse to himself and to all around him.

Most certainly all clear-sighted and generous men in the North appreciate the difficulty and perplexity of this problem, sympathize with the South in the embarrassment of conditions for which she is not alone responsible, feel an honest wish to help her where help is practicable, and have the heartiest respect for those brave and earnest men of the South who, in the face of fearful difficulties, are doing all that men can do for the betterment alike of white and of black. The attitude of the North toward the negro is far from what it should be and there is need that the North also should act in good faith upon the principle of giving to each man what is justly due him, of treating him on his worth as a man, granting him no special favors, but denying him no proper opportunity for labor and the reward of labor. But the peculiar circumstances of the South render the problem there far greater and far more acute.

Neither I nor any other man can say that any given way of approaching that problem will present in our time even an approximately perfect solution, but we can safely say that there can never be such solution at all unless we approach it with the effort to do fair and equal justice among all men; and to demand from them in return just and fair treatment for others. Our effort should be to secure to each man, whatever his color, equality of opportunity, equality of treatment before the law. As a people striving to shape our actions in accordance with the great law of righteousness we cannot afford to take part in or be indifferent to the oppression or maltreatment of any man who, against crushing disadvantages, has by his own industry, energy, self-respect, and perseverance struggled upward to a position which would entitle him to the respect of his fellows, if only his skin were of a different hue.

Every generous impulse in us revolts at the thought of thrusting down instead of helping up such a man. To deny any man the fair treatment granted to others no better than he is to commit a wrong upon him a wrong sure to react in the long run upon those guilty of such denial. The only safe principle upon which Americans can act is that of “all men up,” not that of “some men down.” If in any community the level of intelligence, morality, and thrift among the colored men can be raised, it is, humanly speaking, sure that the same level among the whites will be raised to an even higher degree; and it is no less sure that the debasement of the blacks will in the end carry with it an attendant debasement of the whites.

The problem is so to adjust the relations between two races of different ethnic type that the rights of neither be abridged nor jeoparded; that the backward race be trained so that it may enter into the possession of true freedom, while the forward race is enabled to preserve unharmed the high civilization wrought out by its forefathers. The working out of this problem must necessarily be slow; it is not possible in offhand fashion to obtain or to confer the priceless boons of freedom, industrial efficiency, political capacity, and domestic morality. Nor is it only necessary to train the colored man; it is quite as necessary to train the white man, for on his shoulders rests a well-nigh unparalleled sociological responsibility. It is a problem demanding the best thought, the utmost patience, the most earnest effort, the broadest charity, of the statesman, the student, the philanthropist; of the leadersof thought in every department of our national life. The Church can be a most important factor in solving it aright. But above all else we need for its successful solution the sober, kindly, steadfast, unselfish performance of duty by the average plain citizen in his everyday dealings with his fellows.

The ideal of elemental justice meted out to every man is the ideal we should keep ever before us. It will be many a long day before we attain to it, and unless we show not only devotion to it, but also wisdom and self-restraint in the exhibition of that devotion, we shall defer the time for its realization still further. In striving to attain to so much of it as concerns dealing with men of different colors, we must remember two things.

In the first place, it is true of the colored man, as it is true of the white man, that in the long run his fate must depend far more upon his own effort than upon the efforts of any outside friend. Every vicious, venal, or ignorant colored man is an even greater foe to his own race than to the community as a whole. The colored man’s self-respect entitles him to do that share in the political work of the country which is warranted by his individual ability and integrity and the position he has won for himself. But the prime requisite of the race is moral and industrial uplifting.

Laziness and shiftlessness, these, and above all, vice and criminality of every kind, are evils more potent for harm to the black race than all acts of oppression of white men put together. The colored man who fails to condemn crime in another colored man, who fails to co-operate in all lawful ways in bringing colored criminals to justice, is the worst enemy of his own people, as well as an enemy to all the people. Law-abiding black men should, for the sake of their race, be foremost in relentless and unceasing warfare against law-breaking black men. If the standards of private morality and industrial efficiency can be raised high enough among the black race, then its future on this continent is secure. The stability and purity of the home is vital to the welfare of the black race, as it is to the welfare of every race.

In the next place the white man who, if only he is willing, can help the colored man more than all other white men put together, is the white man who is his neighbor, North or South. Each of us must do his whole duty without flinching, and if that duty is national it must be done in accordance with the principles above laid down. But in endeavoring each to be his brother’s keeper it is wise to remember that each can normally do most for the brother who is his immediate neighbor. If we are sincere friends of the negro let us each in his own locality show it by his action therein, and let us each show it also by upholding the hands of the white man, in whatever locality, who is striving to do justice to the poor and the helpless, to be a shield to those whose need for such a shield is great.

The heartiest acknowledgments are due to the ministers, the judges and law officers, the grand juries, the public men, and the great daily newspapers in the South, who have recently done such effective work in leading the crusade against lynching in the South ; and I am glad to say that during the last three months the returns, as far as they can be gathered, show a smaller number of lynchings than for any other three months during the last twenty years. Let us uphold in every way the hands of the men who have led in this work, who are striving to do all their work in this spirit. I am about to quote from the address of the Right Reverend Robert Strange, Bishop Coadjutor of North Carolina, as given in the “Southern Church man” of October 8, 1904.

The bishop first enters an emphatic plea against any social intermingling of the races; a question which must, of course, be left to the people of each community to settle for themselves, as in such a matter no one community and indeed no one individual can dictate to any other ; always provided that in each locality men keep in mind the fact that there must be no confusing of civil privileges with social intercourse. Civil law cannot regulate social practices. Society, as such, is a law unto itself,and will always regulate its own practices and habits. Full recognition of the fundamental fact that all men should stand on an equal footing, as regards civil privileges, in no way interferes with recognition of the further fact that all reflecting men of both races are united in feeling that race purity must be maintained. The bishop continues:

“What should the white men of the South do for the negro? They must give him a free hand, a fair field, and a cordial Godspeed, the two races working together for their mutual benefit and for the development of our common country. He must have liberty, equal opportunity to make his living, to earn his bread, to build his home. He must have justice, equal rights, and protection before the law. He must have the same political privileges; the suffrage should be based on character and intelligence for white and black alike. He must have the same public advantages of education; the public schools are for all the people, whatever their color or condition. The white men of the South should give hearty and respectful consideration to the exceptional men of the negro race, to those who have the character, the ability and the desire to be lawyers, physicians, teachers, preachers, leaders of thought and conduct among their own men and women. We should give them cheer and opportunity to gratify every laudable ambition, and to seek every innocent satisfaction among their own people. Finally, the best white men of the South should have frequent conferences with the best colored men, where, in frank, earnest, and sympathetic discussion they might understand each other better, smooth difficulties, and so guide and encourage the weaker race.”

Surely we can all of us join in expressing our substantial agreement with the principles thus laid down by this North Carolina bishop, this representative of the Christian thought of the South.

I am speaking on the occasion of the celebration of the birthday of Abraham Lincoln, and to men who count it their peculiar privilege that they have the right to hold Lincoln’s memory dear, and the duty to strive to work along the lines that he laid down. We can pay most fitting homage to his memory by doing the tasks allotted to us in the spirit in which he did infinitely greater and more terrible tasks allotted to him.

Let us be steadfast for the right; but let us err on the side of generosity rather than on the side of vindictiveness toward those who differ from us as to the method of attaining the right. Let us never forget our duty to help in uplifting the lowly, to shield from wrong the humble; and let us likewise act in a spirit of the broadest and frankest generosity toward all our brothers, all our fellow-country men; in a spirit proceeding not from weakness but from strength, a spirit which takes no more account of locality than it does of class or of creed; a spirit which is resolutely bent on seeing that the Union which Washington founded and which Lincoln saved from destruction shall grow nobler and greater throughout the ages.

I believe in this country with all my heart and soul. I believe that our people will in the end rise level to every need, will in the end triumph over every difficulty that rises before them. I could nothave such confident faith in the destiny of this mighty people if I had it merely as regards one portion of that people. Throughout our land things on the whole have grown better and not worse, and this is as true of one part of the country as it is of another. I believe in the Southerner as I believe in the Northerner. I claim the right to feel pride in his great qualities and in his great deeds exactly as I feel pride in the great qualities and deeds of every other American. For weal or for woe we are knit together, and we shall go up or go down together; and I believe that we shall go up and not down, that we shall go forward instead of halting and falling back, because I have an abiding faith in the generosity, the courage, the resolution, and the common-sense of all my countrymen.

The Southern States face difficult problems; and so do the Northern States. Some of the problems are the same for the entire country. Others exist in greater intensity in one section; and yet others exist in greater intensity in another section. But in the end they will all be solved; for fundamentally our people are the same throughout this land; the same in the qualities of heart and brain and hand which have made this Republic what it is in the great to-day ; which will make it what it is to be in the infinitely greater to-morrow. I admire and respect and believe in and have faith in the men and women of the South as I admire and respect and believe in and have faith in the men and women of the North. All of us alike, Northerners and Southerners, Easterners and Westerners, can best prove our fealty to the Nation’s past by the way in which we do the Nation’s work in the present ; for only thus can we be sure that our children’s children shall inherit Abraham Lincoln’s single-hearted devotion to the great unchanging creed that “righteousness exalteth a nation.”

William Howard Taft

Term: March 4, 1909 -March 4, 1913

In the middle of a horrific winter storm, in March 1909, William Howard Taft, took the oath of office and reflected on the future of race relations in America.

William Howard Taft on Negro Progress

Video: “Rights and Progress of the Negro” Speech by President William Howard Taft

Audio/Video: President William Howard Taft and race relations
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Woodrow Wilson

Term: March 4, 1913 – March 4, 1921

President Wilson- Birth of A Nation

On the evening of March 21, 1915, President Woodrow Wilson attended a special screening at the White House of “The Birth of A Nation”, a film directed by D.W. Griffith

Video: Reconstruction completely ended with the election of President Woodrow Wilson


Woodrow Wilson became 13th president of Princeton University from 1902 to 1910 and later would become governor of New Jersey from 1911 to1913.

Woodrow Wilson discouraged blacks from even applying for admission to Princeton University. The first African American would not be admitted to Princeton until Bruce M. Wright in 1935.

In 1912 Woodrow Wilson, the Democratic candidate for president, promised fairness and justice for blacks if elected. In a letter to a black church official, Wilson wrote, “Should I become President of the United States they may count upon me for absolute fair dealing for everything by which I could assist in advancing their interests of the race.”

African Americans had strongly supported Wilson for President.

At one point, he released a statement to the National Colored Democratic League assuring the members that he opposed “unfair discriminating laws against any class or race” and believed “that the qualifications for voting should be the same for all men.” He added:

I want to assure them through you that should I become President of the United States, they may count upon me for absolute fair dealing and for everything by which I could assist in advancing the interests of their race in the United States.

But after the election, Wilson changed his tune. He dismissed 15 out of 17 black supervisors who had been previously appointed to federal jobs and replaced them with whites. He also refused to appoint black ambassadors to Haiti and Santa Domingo, posts traditionally awarded to African Americans. Two of Wilson’s cabinet ministers, Postmaster General Albert Burelson and Treasury Secretary William McAdoo, both Southerners, issued orders segregating their departments. Throughout the country, blacks were segregated or dismissed from federal positions. In Georgia, the head of the Internal Revenue Division fired all black employees: “There are no government positions for Negroes in the South. A Negro’s place in the corn field.” He said. The President’s wife, Ellen Wilson, was said to have had a hand in segregating employees in Washington, encouraging department chiefs to assign blacks separate working, eating, and toilet facilities. To justify segregation, officials publicized complaints by white women, who were thought to be threatened by black men’s sexuality and disease.

W.E.B. Du Bois sharply criticized President Wilson in THE CRISIS: “The federal government has set the colored apart as if mere contact with them were contamination. Behind screens and closed doors they now sit as though leprous. How long will it be before the hateful epithets of ‘Nigger’ and ‘Jim Crow’ are openly applied?” The NAACP’s active campaign forced Wilson to back off from segregating the federal government. Jim Crow was checked but not rooted out. It would remain in place until the New Deal of Franklin Roosevelt.

Source: PBS, Federal Highway Administration

Woodrow Wilson

Woodrow Wilson

Woodrow Wilson


Warren G. Harding

Term: March 4, 1921 – August 2, 1923

Presidents Warren G. Harding proposed a commission to bridge the divide between the races.

Harding told Congress in 1921 that such a body could formulate “if not a policy, at least a national attitude” that could bring the races closer together.

In 1921 President Harding become the first sitting president since the Civil War to support equal rights in a speech in the south while in Birmingham, Alabama.

During a speech to the citizens of Birmingham, President Harding famously remarked, “I would say let the black man vote when he is fit to vote; prohibit the white man voting when he is unfit to vote….”

On Oct. 26, 1921, President Harding delivered an important, but now largely forgotten, speech about the need to guarantee African-Americans equal opportunity in the political, economic and social life of the nation. Harding courageously delivered this message in the heart of the Old South – Birmingham, Alabama. Harding was invited to speak there in commemoration of the city’s 50th anniversary.

After delivering the requisite praise to what the president described as “The Magic City,” Harding offered an astute assessment of the great Northern Migration of African-Americans during World War I, pointing out that their departure was detrimental to Birmingham’s industrial economy. Harding made it clear that, as a result of this migration, the issue of relations between the races had become not just a Southern problem, but a national problem

Harding paid tribute to African-Americans who served in World War I, noting that he was told by one such soldier that his Army experience made him understand, for the first time, that the individual freedoms that the flag represents also apply to him. The president called for equality of educational opportunities for all Americans, and urged African-Americans to involve themselves, like all citizens, in the political affairs of the nation.

Harding did not go so far as to endorse a fully integrated society. In fact, he urged African-Americans to take pride in their own race. Yet the significance of Harding speech was his vision of an America that allowed each individual to use his or her own abilities, education and initiative to succeed.

As a U.S. senator and as president, Harding was a strong supporter of a federal anti-lynching law. An anti-lynching bill was passed by the Republican House but, because of a filibuster by Southern Democrats, never passed the Senate. As president, he also urged Cabinet officers to hire qualified African-Americans in their departments.

There may be a personal explanation for Harding’s interest in equal rights for African Americans. A story spread during the 1920 presidential campaign that Harding had an African-American ancestor.
Source: by Jake Betz

Was President Harding black?
If the notorious historian William Estabrook Chancellor was right, we already did. In the early 1920s, Chancellor helped assemble a controversial biographical portrait accusing President Warren Harding of covering up his family’s “colored” past. According to the family tree Chancellor created, Harding was actually the great-grandson of a black woman. Under the one-drop rule of American race relations, Chancellor claimed, the country had inadvertently elected its “first Negro president.”

The Harding forces hit back hard against Chancellor, driving him out of his job and destroying all but a handful of published copies of his book.

In the decades since, many biographers have dismissed the rumors of Harding’s mixed-race family as little more than a political scandal and Chancellor himself as a Democratic mudslinger and racist ideologue. But as with the long-denied and now all-but-proved allegations of Thomas Jefferson’s affair with his slave Sally Hemings, there is reason to question the denials. From the perspective of 2008, when interracial sex is seen as a historical fact of life instead of an abomination, the circumstantial case for Harding’s mixed-race ancestry is intriguing though not definitive.


Harding Birmingham -The New York Times 1921

See entire New York Times article in pdf format. Click your back arrow to return to Dilemma X

Warren G Harding 1921 Birmingham Alabama

On April 2, 1921 George Washington Carver of the Tuskegee Institute (now University) presented his innovative ideas on agriculture to the U. S. House of Representatives.


Calvin Coolidge

Term: August 2, 1923- March 4, 1929

Calvin Coolidge proposed a commission to bridge the divide between the races in 1923 and again in 1925. He urged the creation of a “Negro Industrial Commission” to promote a better policy of mutual understanding.”

During the 1920s a federal “Negro Industrial Commission” was proposed to investigate the living conditions of African Americans and make recommendations for improving them while ameliorating relations between the races.

The first bills H.R. 2895 for a Negro Industrial Commission was introduced in the House of Representatives on April 13, 1921. The second, H.R. 3228, which added the responsibility “to formulate a policy for mutual understanding and confidence between the races” to the commission’s duties, was introduced on December 13, 1923. Committee hearings were held in the spring of 1924 and the bills were reported favorably to the House. The bills were introduced in the Senate in 1924, but no time was allotted on the calendar to take them up, and they were never passed.

Oscar dePriest
In 1928 Oscar dePriest was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1928, representing the South Side of Chicago. He was the first black elected to Congress in the in the 1900s.

Herbert Hoover

Term: March 4, 1929 -March 4, 1933

Up until Herbert Hoover, a majority of African Americans had supported the Republican Party, the Party of Lincoln. Up until the 1932 election that elevated a Democrat, Franklin D. Roosevelt, to the presidency, black voters largely avoided the Democratic Party. Many Democratic members of both the House and Senate were racial segregationists.

Under President Hoover the Republicans ousted African Americans from the party in the South, and Secretary of War Patrick Hurley segregated black gold-star mothers and widows of the World War I dead en route to Europe on ocean liners. President Hoover failed to end discrimination in hiring for government projects.

Robert Moton, that 2nd president of the Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University) visits the White House

Herbert Hoover invited a prominent African American, Robert Moton, that 2nd president of the Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University), to public ceremonies at the White House. On May 16, 1929, fully one month before the DePriest tea, and he returned five more times in 1929 and 1930. The first Moton visit, though, generated no hostile press, despite careful reporting in black media outlets and a press conference with White House reporters. There were three reasons for this lack of public outcry: (1) the Moton visit was business in nature, not social; (2) his visit occurred in May, before a northern member of Congress created controversy in June by pushing for racial equality; and Moton made no issue of his visit.

Despite all her preparation and planning, First Lady Lou Henry Hoover encountered controversy over the issue of race and White House protocol. On June 12, 1929, Jessie DePriest was a White House guest at a tea party honoring the spouses of members of Congress. As first lady, Hoover hosted the event, which received no publicity beforehand but produced a nationwide controversy afterward. DePriest was the wife of Republican Oscar Stanton DePriest, the first African American member of Congress since 1901.

Source: The White House Historical Association

President Hoover at Howard University

Hoover sharply increased appropriations for Howard University, a historically black university in Washington D.C., to upgrade its professional schools.

June 10, 1932

President Herbert Hoover commencement address at Howard University

“It is an inspiration to come into this great institution of higher education for the Negro race. Nothing that the Federal Government has done reflects more credit upon it for the meeting of an obligation than this institution to bring to a great segment of our population the means of overcoming a handicap for which they were not responsible and of leveling upward for them an equal opportunity to share in the full measure of citizenship with their brethren of other races.

It is vital in a democracy that the public opinion upon which it rests shall be an informed and educated opinion. The Negro race comprises 10 percent of our population, and unless this 10 percent is developed proportionately with the rest of the population, it cannot pull its proper strength at the oars of our pressing problems of democracy. To provide this development requires trained leadership, and I conceive that to be the function of Howard University. You are providing here professional training in all those fields to which the community naturally looks for leadership–religion, law, medicine, education, science, art. You are providing this professional training to men and women of the colored race, to your own best talents, your own leaders by natural endowment. Through the instruction which they receive here, your natural leaders become trained leaders, and this training is of the same kinds and of equal efficiency with that which is provided for the natural leaders of the white race. By this process, the colored people are being integrated fully into the broad stream of the national life, sharing in the obligation and opportunity for political service, for economic advancement, for educational development of the individual, and for enjoyment of all the benefits of science and art and general culture, including skilled medical service, more beautiful home surroundings, and a share in the intellectual progress of mankind.

These things are the natural right of the citizens of a republic. The Federal Government has nobly acknowledged its duty to provide them here.

I congratulate the graduating class upon completing their studies with credit, and I congratulate the Negro race upon your efforts to prepare yourselves.”

Herbert Hoover and Oscar dePriest Tea

Herbert Hoover and dePriest

Hoover meets Hitler

Herbert Hoover meeting with Adolf Hitler

While on a tour of Europe in 1938, Herbert Hoover traveled extensively in his post-presidential years and Hoover met with Adolf Hitler.

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Term: March 4, 1933 -April 12, 1945

President Franklin D. Roosevelt Executive Order No. 8802 signed on on June 25, 1941 to prohibit racial discrimination in the national defense industry.

Federal Council of Negro Affairs
The Federal Council of Negro Affairs was an informal collection of African Americans that advised President Franklin D. Roosevelt during the Great Depression and his New Deal acts. He appointed a large number of blacks to second-level positions and by the mid-1930s there were about 45 blacks working in the New Deal agencies. Roosevelt and the Council were responsible for the shift of black votes from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party.

Mary McLeod Bethune was a close friend of Eleanor Roosevelt. Bethune was founder of Daytona Educational and Industrial Training School in 1904 (now Bethune-Cookman University)

Mary McLeod Bethune with First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt

Franklin D. Roosevelt Remarks at Tuskegee Institute (University) March 30, 1939

“Governor Dixon, Dr. Patterson and you, the students of Tuskegee:

Some of my more conservative friends in the north accuse me of being very persistent when I once make up my mind that a thing ought to be done for the good of humanity. They say that it is because I am part Scotch and part Dutch. I am afraid they are right. I try to be persistent and consistent.

I am fulfilling today a piece of persistency that began nearly thirty years ago when I had my first talk with Booker Washington. He asked me at that time to come to Tuskegee and see what he was doing and what his boys and girls were doing. I could not go then and I kept putting it off and then, for a good many years, Dr. Moton kept coming to see me, saying, “Why don’t you come to visit us in Tuskegee?” I kept on saying, “Yes, I am going to come.” And then Dr. Patterson in these later years has been saying, “Come and see us.”

Well, I am persistent and consistent and here I am. I am proud to come to Tuskegee because I am proud of what Tuskegee has done. I wish that every American could come to Tuskegee and see what has been done. I do not know whether in any individual institution the members of that institution, the faculty and the students, realize how much they are being watched by the outside world. The things that they do in their institution count but, more than that, the things that their graduates do are things that count very greatly not only among the body of graduates, not only among their immediate neighbors but also throughout their State and throughout their Nation.

Your Congressman was telling me as we drove in here about a predecessor of his who had said that no graduate of Tuskegee had ever gone either to a penitentiary or to Congress.

As a matter of fact, because I travel around the country a good deal, I notice the graduates of Tuskegee more than some of you who are right here. I hear about a man or a woman, not only in the lower south but in the middle of the country and in the north, somebody who is making good, somebody who is having an influence over human service in his community. And then I hear that he or she is a graduate of Tuskegee and that is what counts.

I did not come here to make a formal address to you. This is a homely gathering. Tuskegee is a homey place. We think, necessarily and rightly, in terms of the American home. You are doing much, through your great body of graduates, to improve and bring it up to higher standards. That home today is not the old home of half a century ago. Because of necessity and modem invention it must extend its interest and its contacts with a great many other homes in its own community and with other people in neighboring communities just in the same way that no State can become entirely self-contained or be as self-contained as it was twenty or thirty years ago.

More and more we are becoming a part of a Nation which, because of changing conditions, means that we have to take part, all the way down to the smallest community and the home, in national affairs. Alabama cannot hoe its own row differently from other States, neither can my State of Georgia. More and more they have to plan, plan for the future, plan for the present, plan to work with the other fellow. There is one thing you are learning, and that is that you have to cooperate with your fellow men and women, cooperate in your own community, in your own State and throughout the country.

That is why I have been not only interested but very proud of all that your graduates are doing and of the fine spirit of humane service that the overwhelming majority of them carry with them throughout their lives.

Dr. Moton was talking about getting old. There is one thing that he exemplifies, and that is the thought that it is a terrible thing for anybody to say, “Why should I keep on living?” We are coming to the realization that it is a great privilege to be alive, no matter what the number of years we have covered. As somebody has said, it is grand no matter how old you get, to want to keep on living because there is still so much to be done. That is the spirit of you youngsters; it is the spirit of us in middle life; and it is the spirit, increasingly, of the older people in our Nation.

And so, my boy and girl friends, keep the ideals of your youth all through your lives.

I am happy to have been here. I want to come back some day in the future and I will if I can. In the meantime I give you my affectionate regards. Good luck in all the days to come.”

Tuskegee Airmen

Eleanor Roosevelt at the Tuskegee Institute (University)
First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt insisted on flying with a black pilot in Tuskegee

First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt was very interested in the work at the Tuskegee Institute, particularly in the aeronautical school. In 1941 she visited Tuskegee Army Air Field and asked to take a flight with one of the Tuskegee African American pilots.

On 3 April 3, 1939, Appropriations Bill Public Law 18 was passed by Congress containing an amendment designating funds for training African-American pilots. The Tuskegee program began officially in June 1941 with the 99th Pursuit Squadron at the Tuskegee Institute.

Video: The New Deal for African Americans

Video: Yale University Lecture- The Great Depression, The New Deal and the African American experience


Harry S.Truman

Term: April 12, 1945 – January 20, 1953

President Truman speaking at conference of National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) June 29, 1947

President Truman speaking at conference of NAACP June 29, 1947

Source: Truman Library

On July 26, 1948: Army staff officers state anonymously to the press that Executive Order 9981 does not specifically forbid segregation in the Army.

On July 27, 1948: Army Chief of Staff General Omar N. Bradley states that desegregation will come to the Army only when it becomes a fact in the rest of American society.

On July 29, 1948: President Truman states in a press conference that the intent of Executive Order 9981 is to end segregation in the armed forces.

Harry S Truman

Mary McLeod Bethune enters the White House

Mary McLeod Bethune enters the White House 1950

Mary McLeod Bethune pictured here with President Harry S.Truman

Mary McLeod Bethune with President Harry Truman


Dwight D. Eisenhower

Term: January 20, 1953 – January 20, 1961

President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed Executive Order No.10479 on August 13, 1953 created the Government Contract Committee to help insure compliance with, and successful execution of, the equal employment opportunity program of the United States Government.

The landmark May 17, 1954 United States Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education court ruling declared state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students unconstitutional. The decision overturned the Plessy v. Ferguson decision of 1896 which allowed state-sponsored segregation. The Supreme Court voted unanimously 9–0 that “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.”

Civil Rights Act of 1957

President Dwight D. Eisenhower signing the Civil Rights Act of 1957
The Civil Rights Act of 1957 was signed on September 9, 1957, primarily a voting rights bill, was the first civil rights legislation enacted by Congress in the United States since Reconstruction following the American Civil War.
Video: President Eisenhower speaks on racial desegregation Little Rock Central High School in 1957

Video: President Eisenhower addresses NAACP on racial equality


John F. Kennedy

Term: January 20, 1961 -November 22, 1963

Martin Luther King Jr. meeting with President Kennedy August 28, 1963


Video: Martin Luther King, Jr speaking about his meeting with President John F. Kennedy


President John F. Kennedy’s Executive Order No.10925 on March 6, 1961 mandated “affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed, and that employees are treated during employment, without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin.”
Video: Senator John F. Kennedy – Statement on Civil Rights Legislation, September 1, 1960

Video: John F. Kennedy – Address on Civil Rights

Video: President: John F. Kennedy Announces Civil Rights Act

Lyndon B. Johnson

Term: November 22, 1963 -January 20, 1969

Civil Rights Act of 1964

Video: Lyndon B Johnson 1964 TV Ad – Barry Goldwater

Video: Republican Barry Goldwater’s opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Video: President Lyndon Johnson using the “N” word


Video: Lyndon B. Johnson of the telephone speaking about Civil Rights
Part 1

Part 2

Video: President Lyndon Johnson – Remarks on Signing the Civil Rights Bill

Video: President Lyndon Johnson – Speech on Voting Rights

President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Executive Order No.11246 was signed on September 24, 1965 establishing requirements for non-discriminatory practices in hiring and employment on the part of U.S. government contractors and subcontractors.

President Johnson with Tuskegee Institute (University) President 1964

In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson appoints the first African American cabinet member, making Robert C. Weaver head of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).


Richard Nixon

Term: January 20, 1969 -August 9, 1974

President Nixon signs Executive Order No. 11458, on March 5, 1969, creating OMBE and the Advisory Council for Minority Business Enterprise. OMBE and the Advisory Council partner with the U.S. Census Bureau to conduct the first Survey of Minority-Owned Business Enterprises.

President Nixon signed Executive Order 11625 on 1971 and expanded the scope of MBDA and its minority business programs by authorizing grants to public and private organizations to provide technical and management assistance to minority business enterprises (MBEs).
Video: Shultz speaks about Richard Nixon
Shultz served as the United States Secretary of Labor from 1969 to 1970, as the director of the Office of Management and Budget from 1970 to 1972, as the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury from 1972 to 1974, and as the U.S. Secretary of State from 1982 to 1989
Shultz is currently a distinguished fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford Universit

Video: Richard Nixon’s administration’s George Shultz on Labor and Race Relations

Video: 1960 – on Civil Rights Richard Nixon running against John F. Kennedy for President of the United States

Prescribed additional arrangements for developing and coordinating a national program for minority business enterprise
Video: President Richard Nixon – 1972 State of the Union


Gerald R. Ford

Term: August 9, 1974-  January 20, 1977
President Gerald R. Ford with Tuskegee president Dr. Luther Foster, Jr. in 1978
President Gerald R. Ford seen visting Tuskegee Institute (now University) in photo with the 4th president  of Tuskegee Dr. Luther Foster, Jr.  April 13-14, 1978

Jimmy Carter

Term:  January 20, 1977 – January 20, 1981

President Jimmy Carter signed Executive Order No. 12007 that terminated the Advisory Council for Minority Business Enterprise.

1979 The Office of Minority Business Enterprise became the Minority Business Development Agency.

Patricia Roberts Harris served in the administration of President Jimmy Carter as United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and United States Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare (now Secretary of Health and Human Services ). She was the first African American woman to serve in the United States Cabinet, and the first to enter the line of succession to the Presidency.

Jimmy Carter speaking on the economy of African Americans

President Carter Focus on Black Jobs -The Milwaukee Journal - Sep 7, 1977

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President Carter on African Americans and the economy

President Carter on African Americans and the economy

President Carter on African Americans and the economy


Ronald Regan

Term: January 20, 1981-  January 20, 1989

General Colin Powell was the 16th National Security Advisor and was appointed by President Ronald Reagan. He would be the first African American to hold this position.

Video: Ronald Reagan speaking at the 1981 NAACP Convention

Video: President Reagan: Speech to the NAACP on the economy for African Americans, June 29, 1981


President Ronald Reagan signed Executive Order No. 12432 on 1983 giving the Department of Commerce and the U.S. Small Business Administration, in consultation with the Cabinet Council on Commerce and Trade, broad authority to oversee the establishment, preservation and strengthening of federal minority business enterprise programs. President Ronald Reagan also signed a Presidential Proclamation designating the first week of October as Minority Enterprise Development Week (MED Week).

Ronald Reagan speaking on the economy of African Americans

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President Reagan on African Americans and the economy

President Ronald Reagan presented former Tuskegee University president Dr. Patterson with the Presidential Medal of Freedom June 23, 1987

In 1987, President Ronald Reagan awarded Former Tuskegee University president Dr. Frederick D. Patterson the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.

President Ronald Reagan commencement address at Tuskegee University with 5th president of Tuskegee Dr. Benjamin F. Payton

In 1987 President Ronald Reagan with the 5th president of Tuskegee Dr. Benjamin F. Payton. Reagan gave the commencement address at Tuskegee University.

George H. W. Bush

Term: January 20, 1989 – January 20, 1993

In 1989 under President George H. W. Bush, Colin Powell was made a full general, before being named 12th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Vice President George H. W. Bush with 5th Tuskegee president Dr. Benjamin F. Payton April 12, 1981

Vice President George H. W. Bush with 5th Tuskegee president Dr. Benjamin F. Payton April 12, 1981

Bill Clinton

Term: January 20, 1993 -January 20, 2001

Video: Civil Rights Speech: President Clinton at an Annual Convocation in Memphis, Tennessee 1993

Video: President Bill Clinton-Address on Race Relations October 16, 1995


George W. Bush

Term: January 20, 2001 – January 20, 2009

General Colin Powell was the 65th United States Secretary of State, serving under President George W. Bush during his first term. General Powell was the first African American to serve in that position.

Dr. Condoleezza Rice served as the 66th United States Secretary of State in the administration of President George W. Bush’s 2nd term. Dr. Rice was the first female African American Secretary of State, as well as the 2nd African American (after Colin Powell), and the 2nd woman (after Madeleine Albright).

Dr. Rice was the first woman National Security Advisor during George W. Bush’s first term.

President George W. Bush signs Presidential Proclamation in Honor of the 60th Anniversary of Armed Forces Integration with Tuskegee Airman
US President George W. Bush (C) signs Pr

President George W. Bush visits Tuskegee University on April 19, 2006

President George W. Bush visits Tuskegee University April 19, 2006

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President George W. Bush visits Tuskegee University April 19, 2006


Barack H. Obama

Term: January 20, 2009- Current

November 1, 2007 Senator Barack Obama held his “Count Down for Change” presidential campaign rally outside at the O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium on the campus of North Carolina Central University

Senator Barack Obama North Carolina Central University presidential campaign stop in 2007
Video: Obama on African American unemployment

Video: President Barack Obama on Affirmative Action 

Video: President Obama signs Health Reform into law

Video: Urban Radio Networks White House Correspondent April Ryan questions President Obama on cut to poor in the budget

Video: President Obama Speaks at the African American Policy in Action Leadership Conference November 2011- African American unemployment rate

Video: Congresswoman Maxine Waters on the Congressional Black Caucus getting tired with President Obama and his attention to high black unemployment


President Barack Obama at Hampton University
President Barack Obama spoke at Hampton University where Tuskegee’s first president Booker T. Washington and Tuskegee’s second president Robert Russa Moton earned their college degrees from.
President Barack Obama commencement address at Hampton University 2010
AP Photo
President Barack Obama commencement address at Hampton University 2010 a
President Obama with Hampton University president Dr. William R. Harvey, who was Administrative Vice President at Tuskegee University before coming to Hampton.

On June 8, 2011 Tuskegee University President Gilbert L. Rochon joined President Barack Obama, Mayor Bill Ham Jr. (Auburn, Ala.) Mayor Omar Neal (Tuskegee, Ala.) and others at the White House in congratulating the Auburn University Tigers football team on winning the 2010 BCS National Championship.

Dr. Gilbert Rochon 6th president of Tuskegee at the White House 2011

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama greet Tuskeegee Airmen in the East Garden Room of the White House prior to a screening of the film “Red Tails” in the Family Theater, Jan. 13, 2012.
—Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

President Barack Obama greet Tuskeegee Airmen Jan 2012

President Barack Obama greet Tuskeegee Airmen Jan 2012a

Video: Speaking on “Meet The Press” Benjamin Jealous (President and CEO of the NAACP) on President Barack Obama and the high unemployment rate of African Americans- “Lift all boats”


How President Obama Is Helping Lower Monthly Student Loan Payments
See link:

Thursday, Oct. 18, 2012

Morehouse College cuts spending after enrollment drops

By Laura Diamond
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Morehouse College says it will furlough faculty and staff and make other budget cuts because of a drop in enrollment.

The Atlanta college is teaching 2,360 students — about 125 fewer than projected, Interim Provost Willis Sheftall said Thursday. He attributed the drop to the sluggish economy and changes to a federal loan program that has led to enrollment declines at historically black colleges around the country.

Normally about 8 percent of Morehouse students who pay a deposit to attend don’t enroll, but it doubled to 16 percent this year, in part because of the new loan rules.

Colleges across the country have reported an increase in loan denials after the U.S. Department of Education tightened standards for the Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students. Prospective borrowers can’t have any defaults, foreclosures, bankruptcies, tax liens or wage garnishments within the past five years.

The department has said the tighter regulations protect taxpayer money and prevent people from accumulating debt they can’t afford.

Unlike other federal loans there is no cap for this program and parents can borrow enough money to pay the full cost for their children to attend college. Nearly 1 million families borrowed more than $10 billion last year.

Locally, Clark Atlanta University and Spelman College also say enrollment dropped in part because of the new rules.

Loan denials at Clark Atlanta increased from 25 percent last year to more than 65 percent this year, President Carlton Brown said in a statement.

The university’s enrollment dropped by 443 students to 3,400 this fall. As a result the school has cut travel and other spending, and all requests to fill positions will be vetted through the Enrollment Crisis Committee, Brown wrote.

Spelman’s fall enrollment dropped by a dozen students to 2,074 this fall. That’s above the school’s 2,050 target and the college doesn’t expect to adjust its budget. Spelman provided additional scholarships to students who were denied the federal loan.

During the spring semester Morehouse will reduce the number of part-time faculty, which Sheftall said could increase the number of students in some classes and give students fewer course sections to choose from.


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3 Comments on “History: The modern U.S. Presidents’ views on race relations and the economy for African Americans”

  1. Jueseppi B. Says:

    Reblogged this on The ObamaCrat.Com™ and commented:
    Great Black History Moment from Dilemma X. Thank you for this work.


  2. Pianki Bankole Says:

    A Union States of Africa, I don’t believe will not occur. Those northern Africa countries politically influenced by Arab Countries such as Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and even Morocco have their own aggressive agenda. I wholly believe that the Unionizing of Black Nations to the south would be much more feasible. Also these Black African Nations should monetize their resources in the ground for developmental projects in the nation. Print currency for roads, education, utilities, and other projects that will propel a nation in a hurried way forward. Provide funding for indigenous business projects with affordable interest rates and move away from depending on the IMF, World Bank, and other Western controlled lending sources. By 2100 Nigeria population is estimated to be over 730 million making it the world 3rd largest population. By this time no western European nation will be in the top 20 rankings. What an economic market this will present for those who have been excluded from competitive commerce for the last 5 centuries today. Another major draw back to this idea lies with the former French colonies. They are under that stranglehold caused by the CFA Pact. The inability of these African Countries freed from the French not being able to operate 100% efficiently affects negatively the countries that surround them. This sort of white supremacy shall end and all the documented economic damages and harm caused by France shall be compensated by France through reparations. Also, France must be made to pay back Haiti for the money coerced from it. The United States in particular and others too, should put a freeze on French assets until such time these compensations has been meet. Boycotts of French produced goods and economic sanctions should be incorporated.
    I for one get sick and tired from all the excuses given about corrupt African Leadership as a reason why these black African Countries can’t evolve forward. Any African leaders who oppose this coming to freedom and has been found to have profited through collaborating with this or any other entity against the good will of the people shall be severely punished not to rule out death. This idea should be carried out without further delay.

    This reminds me of how blacks in America who deposit their monies into American banks in their neighborhoods could not get loans from those very same banks to improve on their lives. Typical behavior expressed by White Supremacy and its demonic garbage.


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