The FDR Library Is Telling the Story of Everyone

August 4, 2023

An honest interrogation of racism in the New Deal.

The Roosevelt Rundown features our top stories of the week.

The Truth about Race and the New Deal

For generations, FDR’s success in reshaping the American economy has been a model for what transformative, public-minded policymaking can look like.

His failings have been just as instructive. As we explore in our research, that transformation did not include all Americans, and explicitly excluded or compromised the well-being of Black Americans in ways that still reverberate throughout society.

In a new special exhibition, “Black Americans, Civil Rights, and the Roosevelts, 1932-1962,” the FDR Presidential Library and Museum offers critical perspectives on the administration’s policies and practices, and of the Roosevelts themselves.

And as Jennifer Schuessler writes about the exhibition for the New York Times, “. . . it makes one thing clear: Where opportunities expanded, it was because Black Americans demanded it.”

“Presidential libraries aren’t just about the name on the building,” FDR Library Director William A. Harris told Schuessler. “They have to tell the story of everybody.”

Black activism was, and is, central to that story.

Read more of the New York Times’s coverage: “At the Roosevelt Library, an Unflinching Look at Race.”


How Industrial Policy Actually Works

“[W]hat we were promised by neoliberalism is not what we’re getting . . . leading to this resurgence of industrial policy as a means of managing the economy in a way that leads to actual prosperity,” Roosevelt’s Isabel Estevez says on a new episode of Pitchfork Economics.

New research has positive things to say about that approach.

In a working paper, Dani Rodrik, Réka Juhász, and Roosevelt Fellow Nathan Lane synthesize recent industrial policy work that finds “such policies—or historical accidents that mimic their effects—have often led to large, seemingly beneficial long-term effects in the structure of economic activity,” as they write for Project Syndicate.

Learn more in their new paper, and check out all of Roosevelt’s industrial policy research.


What We’re Reading

Is Good News Finally Good News Again? [feat. Roosevelt’s Mike Konczal] – New York Times

Unregulated AI Will Worsen Inequality, Warns Nobel-Winning Economist Joseph StiglitzScientific American

To Fix the Labor Shortage, Economists Point to Women—and Better Childcare – Axios

In a Push for Race-Neutral Policies, Black Americans Will Be Left Behind, Experts Fear – Capital B


What We’re Talking About