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36 A Conservative Insurgency
37 Triumph And Tragedy: America At The Turn Of The Century

Sources of Freedom. Harold Ickes Criticizes Segregation (September 20, 1935)

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With this letter, Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes entered the debate over racial discrimination in the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). He wrote to the director of the CCC, Robert Fechner, and argued that African-Americans were more than capable of serving as supervisors in CCC camps. Do Fechner's reputed doubts about African-Americans' capacity contrast with his insistence that they were treated equally by his agency, as he wrote in a letter the following day?

Harold Ickes to Robert Fechner, 20 September 1935

Harold Ickes to Robert Fechner, 20 September 1935, "CCC Negro Foremen" file, Box 70O, General Correspondence of the Director, Record Group 35, National Archives, College Park, Maryland. 


September 26, 1935

My Dear Mr. Fechner:

I have your letter of September 24 in which you express doubt as to the advisability of appointing Negro supervisory personnel in Negro CCC camps. For my part, I am quite certain that Negroes can function in supervisory capacities just as efficiently as can white men and I do not think that they should be discriminated against merely on account of their color. I can see no menace to the program that you are so efficiently carrying out in giving just and proper recognition to members of the Negro race.

Sincerely yours,
[Harold L. Ickes]
Secretary of the Interior

Hon. Robert Fechner,
Director, Emergency Conservation Work,
Washington, D.C.

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