For this June’s book of 2020, we are so blessed to have author Jill Watts sponsor us and pick her new release for our Book of the Month.
The Mocha Girl Read Book of the Month for June 2020 is The Black Cabinet: The Untold Story of African Americans and Politics During the Age of Roosevelt by Jill Watts
Take a minute to see what this book is all about.
A magnificently researched, dramatically told work of narrative nonfiction about the history, evolution, impact, and ultimate demise of what was known in the 1930s and 1940s as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Black Cabinet.
In 1932 in the midst of the Great Depression, Franklin Delano Roosevelt won the presidency with the help of key African American defectors from the Republican Party. At the time, most African Americans lived in poverty, denied citizenship rights and terrorized by white violence. As the New Deal began, a “black Brain Trust” joined the administration and began documenting and addressing the economic hardship and systemic inequalities African Americans faced. They became known as the Black Cabinet, but the environment they faced was reluctant, often hostile, to change.
“Will the New Deal be a square deal for the Negro?” The black press wondered. The Black Cabinet set out to devise solutions to the widespread exclusion of black people from its programs, whether by inventing tools to measure discrimination or by calling attention to the administration’s failures. Led by Mary McLeod Bethune, an educator and friend of Eleanor Roosevelt, they were instrumental to Roosevelt’s continued success with black voters. Operating mostly behind the scenes, they helped push Roosevelt to sign an executive order that outlawed discrimination in the defense industry. They saw victories―jobs and collective agriculture programs that lifted many from poverty―and defeats―the bulldozing of black neighborhoods to build public housing reserved only for whites; Roosevelt’s refusal to get behind federal anti-lynching legislation. The Black Cabinet never won official recognition from the president, and with his death, it disappeared from view. But it had changed history. Eventually, one of its members would go on to be the first African American Cabinet secretary; another, the first African American federal judge and mentor to Thurgood Marshall.
Masterfully researched and dramatically told, The Black Cabinet brings to life a forgotten generation of leaders who fought post-Reconstruction racial apartheid and whose work served as a bridge that Civil Rights activists traveled to achieve the victories of the 1950s and ’60s.
About the Author
Jill Watts is a Professor of History at California State University, San Marcos. She received her B.A. in History from the University of California San Diego and her M.A. and Ph.D. from UCLA. She is the author of three books–Hattie McDaniel: Black Ambition, White Hollywood, Mae West: An Icon in Black and White, and God, Harlem USA: The Father Divine Story. Dr. Watts is also the coordinator of the history graduate program and the university’s Brakebill Distinguished Professor for 2017-2018. Her books on Hattie McDaniel and Father Divine have been optioned for film.
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Buy the Book
Thank you so much Jill Watts for your support of Mocha Girls Read.
Click the picture to purchase your copy for the next book club meeting.
Mocha Girl Alysia
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