TVA and Black Americans

Planning for the Status Quo

Nancy L. Grant
Book Cover

HC: $51.95
EAN: 978-0-87722-626-0
Publication: Oct 89

240 pages

Examines the treatment of blacks as employees and clients in Franklin Roosevelt’s "boldest and most liberal social planning experiment"


During the New Deal and World War II, the Tennessee Valley Authority was economically limited by marginal farmlands and industry-poor cities, and socially defined by an Upper South society segregated by race in education, employment, and social services. TVA and Black Americans examines the treatment of blacks as employees and clients in Franklin Roosevelt’s "boldest and most liberal social planning experiment." In her critical study, Nancy Grant contends that TVA planned for a future revitalized valley that included blacks primarily in traditionally subordinate economic and social positions.

Throughout her study, Grant details the largely unsuccessful efforts of national and Valley civil rights organizations, the Fair Employment Practices Committee, and progressive TVA employees to change TVA’s racial policies. She reveals the harsh reality for blacks of limited job opportunities, unequal distribution of social and educational services, and institutionalized racism within TVA. Tracing the changes in attitudes and procedures from 1933 to 1945, Grant reexamines the history of a Southern government agency that was known for its liberalism and experimentation in social and regional planning and challenges that reputation.


"An showing how racism tarnished an outstanding showpiece of the New Deal and impaired the proclaimed aspirations of New Deal Agency administrators."
Richard Lowitt

"(This book) should have broad appeal to historians of race relations, the New Deal, and the Twentieth Century South, as well as individuals interested in employment policy and discrimination."
Patricia Sullivan, Center for the Study of Civil Rights, University of Virginia

Table of Contents

1. The Promise
2. The Reality
3. Hiring and Promotions for Blacks
4. Regional and Community Development
5. Critics of TVA's Racial Policies
6. The Fair Employment Practices Committee
7. Beyond the New Deal

About the Author(s)

Nancy L. Grant is Associate Professor of History at Dartmouth College.