Blacks in Politics, Part 2
Courtesy of the Library of Congress
In the first half of the twentieth century very few African Americans were elected to public office and none had ever been appointed as a policy advisor to the president. With encouragement from the first lady, in 1933 President Franklin D. Roosevelt began to appoint African Americans as policy advisors and informally formed the group of African American politicians and thinkers who came to be known as the "Black Cabinet." The economist Robert Weaver (shown here) and the social reformer and educator Mary McLeod Bethune were key members of the 45 people who made up Roosevelt's Black Cabinet, or the Federal Council on Negro Affairs, as it was officially called. Though not part of the president's actual cabinet and while none of the members held any real government authority, the Black Cabinet was extremely influential in securing a place for African Americans in the New Deal. Additionally, the establishment of the informal committee also marked a shift in the hiring and appointing of African Americans to government positions. In the years after the formation of the Black Cabinet the number of black government officials grew exponentially.