American Dream Deferred

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

[Gooding] focusing so closely on the relationship between US presidents and Black federal workers . . . nicely synthesizes the ways that each administration handled racial matters. An American Dream Deferred makes a significant contribution to the growing fields of Black Washington, Black federal employment, and economic inequality after World War II.
The Journal of African American History

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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.

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Frederick W. Gooding Jr.