Lament and Hope: A Pan African Quad-Centennial Devotional Guide - Page 20

Lament and
Hope in Angola
A History of
Immigration and
Workers, many of them migrants, grading beans at a canning plant in Florida in 1937. The economic hardships of
the Great Depression hit African American workers especially hard. Photo by Arthur Rothstein / Library of Congress
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938, a significant piece of New Deal legislation, established
a national minimum wage and a maximum work week and prohibited most employment of children
under 16. Although the bill was originally intended to help strengthen the economy and put an end to
the Great Depression, various groups of workers were excluded. These included domestic workers, who
were disproportionately African American women. In 1939, 60 percent of African-American women were
domestic workers. In addition, workers in a number of tip-based professions were excluded, including
servers, shoe shiners, and Pullman porters, who were primarily African American. Agricultural workers
were also excluded, and they were disproportionately African-American men—in 1939, 41 percent of
black men were employed as farmworkers. Thus, many African Americans did not have access to the
country’s first-ever minimum wage and work protections. This further widened the racial hunger, income,
and wealth gaps, which were already large because of earlier policies and the Great Depression.
Source: Bread for the World’s Racial Wealth Gap Policy Packet (
LAMENT and HOPE: A Pan-African Devotional Guide


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