The undisputable main accomplishment of Franklin Roosevelt in the dominion of democracy and civil rights was the New Deal. If you have been anywhere else in the web site now, you have probably heard mention of it. The New Deal was Roosevelt's master framework of a ladder by which the nation could climb out of its economic difficulty and have the foundations of a sound economy.
The fact which makes this so remarkable is that this was really the first government-sponsored economic aid program. Furthermore, this program was one of the few in our nation's history which managed to help those who most needed it: minorities.
These economic programs were truly the first to reach out to the badly neglected underbelly of the nation's cities and the backbone of American society: the blacks in the South, the Irish and Italians in the North, and the Chinese in the West. These programs denied no one aid, and helped the minorities not only climb from poverty caused by the depression, but helped to create the economic equality which had been denied them by their more powerful and prejudiced employers and neighbors. These programs, as they were national, did not bear the burden of local prejudice, although at times certain unscrupulous local administrators infused them with prejudice. This, however, happened rarely because of national oversight.
The most prominent of Franklin Roosevelt's programs was the Works Progress Administration, or the WPA. This was an attempt to reinstate a demand for skilled workers in urban and rural areas. The WPA created jobs especially for the arts and entertainment industries, sponsoring the Federal Theater Project which helped thousands of unemployed actors to gain jobs while FDR's other programs were assisting their former employers with their pecuniary woes.
In addition to this function, the WPA also brought many people into federally-sponsored jobs, staffing the civil service with millions of unemployed clerks and secretaries. The WPA basically put millions of the unemployed who were skilled and not able to perform the hard manual labor of the unskilled portion of FDR's anti-unemployment programs. The WPA also sponsored inner-city vocational classes which assisted the minorities who sorely lacked education at that time in getting more high-paying jobs and boosted their economic level. This had long-running implications as it, along with the steady flow of jobs that World War II brought, helped to jump-start the inferior position into which the minorities had been crammed.
Another major New Deal program which was the leader of the unskilled labor wing of the New Deal anti-unemployment program was the Civilian Conservation Corps, or the CCC. This program created monumental public works projects and industrial works projects, and put the members of the CCC to the construction of these. The focal point of the CCC operations in the East was the Upper Tennessee Valley Authority Dam Project. This was a system of hydroelectric dams designed to control the flooding of the Tennessee Valley's rivers, and to harness their fast-flowing current to provide inexpensive electricity to the masses of poor in the region.
The CCC provided millions of jobs for the homeless and unemployed poor during the New Deal period. The program was especially effective in the Deep South, and many African-American boys between the ages of 16 and 25 went to earn their families money in the CCC. In fact, the program was such a success, that the members were very reluctant to be dismissed when the program was disbanded at the beginning of World War II.
Besides dam building, the CCC also sponsored road construction, logging, mining, experimental farming, and other heavy industry, which not only benefited the workers, but also the impoverished industries which manufactured items pertinent to the various products.
This program more than any other helped the poor and disadvantaged masses of unemployed workers during the depression than any other. The work, the money, and food provided to the men of the CCC helped to bring their families out of poverty and into steady jobs for a long time. The effects of the CCC and its counterpart the WPA coupled with the economic boom of World War II helped bring millions out of poverty for good, giving them economic equality, giving them the means to pursue true legal equality.