Roosevelt House and the LGBTQ Policy Center at Hunter College are Pleased to Present   


The Black Cabinet: The Untold Story of African Americans and Politics

During the Age of Roosevelt




Monday, August 10

Live program begins at 5 PM EDT

Join via Zoom:


Those who RSVP will receive a reminder to join shortly before the program begins. 


Roosevelt House presents a live Zoom discussion of The Black Cabinet: The Untold Story of African Americans and Politics During the Age of Roosevelt by Jill Watts. In it, Watts tells the story of a generation of courageous leaders who fought to ensure that President Roosevelt’s New Deal included African Americans. The author will be in conversation with Assistant Professor of Transatlantic Studies in the Hunter College English Department Kelvin C. Black.


Masterfully researched and dramatically told, The Black Cabinet takes the reader on a journey through the evolution, impact, and demise of what was known in the 1930s and 1940s as President Roosevelt’s Black Cabinet. At a time when most African Americans lived in poverty, denied the rights of citizenship, and under the threat of violence, a “black Brain Trust” joined the administration and began to address the systemic inequalities African Americans faced. The environment in which they worked was reluctant, often hostile, to change, and yet what they accomplished helped to pave the way for the Civil Rights Movement.


At Roosevelt House we feel a special connection to this story, and a unique sense of pride in presenting this discussion—not just because it was from our historic house that the Black Cabinet so often operated, but because of the visits paid by the Black Cabinet’s extraordinary leader, Mary Mcleod Bethune. As a friend and collaborator of Eleanor Roosevelt’s, and the highest ranking African American woman in government at the time, Bethune became one of the most important African American educators, civil and women’s rights leaders, and government officials of the twentieth century.


Michael Eric Dyson, writing in the New York Times, called The Black Cabinet an “urgent…and necessary history of black folks during the New Deal that excavates the too often ignored history of black female genius behind racial progress;” and Publishers Weekly pronounced it “a groundbreaking reappraisal of an unheralded chapter in the battle for civil rights.”


Jill Watts is a Professor of History at California State University San Marcos where she teaches United States Social and Cultural History, African American History, Film History, and Digital History. She has served there as the History Department’s Chair, the coordinator of the History Graduate Program, the program director of Film Studies, and the co-director of Women’s Studies. She is the author of Hattie McDaniel: Black Ambition, White Hollywood, Mae West: An Icon in Black and White, and God, Harlem USA: The Father Divine Story.


Kelvin C. Black is Associate Professor of Transatlantic Studies in Hunter’s English Department and a recent fellow of the Institute for Constitutional History. He received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. His research focuses on transatlantic political discourse of the nineteenth century. He is the author of The Atlantic Dilemma: Reform or Revolution across the Long Nineteenth Century, a literary-historical investigation of how the dilemma of choosing between reform and revolution shaped modern political discourse in the U.S. and the UK.




Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College

47-49 East 65th Street (between Park and Madison Avenues) | New York, NY 10065

p: 212-650-3174 | e:



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Wednesday July 8
4:00 PM
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Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College
47-49 East 65th Street, New York, NY 10065
tel: 212.650.3174 | email: