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Mission Matters - November 2022

Why do White Americans have on average 13 times more wealth than African Americans? There have been government policies since the Civil War that have led to this disparity. Bread for the World has documented some of these policies. Here is their Policy # 5 contributing to the gap.

Minding the Gap: Policy #5 The Social Security Act

This act excluded farm workers and domestic workers, who were predominantly black, from receiving old age and unemployment insurance. Although Social Security was meant to help those affected by the Great Depression, and African Americans were twice as likely as the “average” American family to face hunger during this time, 65 percent of African Americans were ineligible to receive Social Security.

How did the Social Security Act contribute to the racial hunger, income, and wealth gaps?

African Americans were more likely to be unemployed during the Great Depression, but far less likely to receive support from unemployment insurance. They were paid less for their work than whites, but were largely ineligible for Social Security old age benefits when they got older and could no longer work. Most African Americans were barely able to get by during the Great Depression, whether they were seniors, working-age adults, or children, and had no savings to leave later generations.

Where can I find more information?

1. Adelman, Larry. “A Long History of Racial Preferences, For Whites.” The Power of

2. “Race During the Great Depression: American Memory Timeline.” Library of Congress.


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