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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Hylan Lewis, January 13, 1991. Interview A-0361. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Economic hardship dulls racism

Lewis remembers believing that the Depression, which united blacks and white in poverty, and the election of Franklin Delano Roosevelt might change life for African Americans in the United States.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Hylan Lewis, January 13, 1991. Interview A-0361. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

JOHN EGERTON:
Do you by chance remember election day in 1932?
HYLAN LEWIS:
Yes, I was in Chicago.
JOHN EGERTON:
You would have been there in November '32.
HYLAN LEWIS:
I remember Roosevelt.
JOHN EGERTON:
Did you have any sense that this was a sea change for America and for blacks in particular?
HYLAN LEWIS:
Oh, yes. I think, again, it was sea change in the sense that one had this sense and in some ways the realization, expectation that something important is happening. Of course, the cue comes with the fact that Roosevelt was able to pick other coalitions at which those blacks who could vote and could express themselves politically really sought to move away from the legacy of the Republican party. That was important. I think it was also important that things were happening. We had a Depression, people were out of work, ‘Buddy, can you spare a dime?’ Blacks and whites were feeling the pinch and so on. Roosevelt had a presence and an aura, an aura about him, which said, ‘happy days are here again.' I think, for me at least, again you are talking about youngsters. When you are young, I don't remember personally any hardship.