American Dream Deferred

Black Federal Workers in Washington, D.C., 1941–1981

American Dream Deferred is a pioneering work of scholarship about one of the most significant struggles of the modern black freedom movement, one that has been almost completely untold until now. Frederick Gooding’s vivid narrative about the long and difficult struggle of African-Americans who worked in the federal government reveals that more than laws and regulations were needed to gain equality and respect. Only when black men and women in the nation’s capital organized for themselves did they gain the rights and opportunities they had always deserved.
Michael Kazin

As the largest employer of one of the world’s leading economic and geo-political superpowers, the history of the federal government’s workforce is a rich and essential tool for understanding how the “Great Experiment” truly works. The literal face of federal policy, federal employees enjoy a history as rich as the country itself, while reflecting the country’s evolution towards true democracy within a public space. Nowhere is this progression towards democracy more apparent than with its internal race relations. While World War II was a boon to black workers, little is known about the nuanced, ongoing struggles for dignity and respect that black workers endured while working these “good, government jobs.” American Dream Deferred challenges postwar narratives of government largess for African Americans by illuminating the neglected stories of these unknown black workers.

about the author

Frederick W. Gooding Jr.

Dr. Frederick W. Gooding, Jr. is assistant professor of African American studies in the John V. Roach Honors College at Texas Christian University.

learn more
Frederick W. Gooding Jr.