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Long Past SlaveryRepresenting Race in the Federal Writers' Project$
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Catherine A. Stewart

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781469626260

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469626260.001.0001

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The Everybody Who’s Nobody

The Everybody Who’s Nobody

Black Employees in the Federal Writers’ Project

Chapter:
(p.120) Chapter Five The Everybody Who’s Nobody
Source:
Long Past Slavery
Author(s):

Catherine A. Stewart

Publisher:
University of North Carolina Press
DOI:10.5149/northcarolina/9781469626260.003.0006

This chapter examines African Americans’ employment within the FWP and the WPA’s Federal Arts Projects by looking at critiques in the Negro Press Digest, a weekly compilation of articles in the black press on racial discrimination within the WPA in hiring, promotions, and lay-offs. The internal administrative correspondence among FWP director Henry Alsberg, Sterling Brown’s Office on Negro Affairs, and state and federal directors confirms the problems identified by the black press and the NAACP; many FWP southern state administrators’ proved unwilling to hire African American employees and to include African Americans in their state histories. Efforts by African American employees and ex-slaves to represent black history were stymied by white employees who declared themselves the final arbiters regarding the veracity of ex-slave narratives. One example comes from the Virginia Project where white director Eudora Ramsay Richardson challenged African American editor Roscoe Lewis over the manuscript The Negro in Virginia.

Keywords:   WPA, Federal Writers’ Project, ex-slaves, African Americans, black history, racial discrimination, Sterling Brown, Office on Negro Affairs, Henry Alsberg, The Negro in Virginia

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