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Foreman, Clark


Clark Howell Foreman (February 19, 1902–June 15, 1977) served in the Franklin Roosevelt administration from 1933 to 1941. As a New Deal administrator and a founding member of the Southern Conference for Human Welfare, Foreman was a leading advocate of racial integration and actively supported the expansion of economic and political democracy in the South.

Foreman, the grandson of the founder of The Atlanta Constitution, had rejected the racial mores of his native Georgia by the time he joined the Roosevelt administration in 1933. He supported an activist role for the federal government in advancing the economic and social welfare of all citizens. As special advisor on the economic status of Negroes from 1933 to 1935 under Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes, Foreman and his assistant Robert Weaver actively promoted full and fair inclusion of African Americans in New Deal programs. In 1935, Weaver succeeded Foreman in that post and Foreman became director of the Public Works Administration's Division of Public Power, where he developed an expanded program of grants and loans to cities to establish municipally owned power plants. This ambitious effort withstood a major legal challenge from private power companies.

In 1938, Roosevelt sought Foreman's advice regarding the president's effort to defeat southern congressional opponents of the New Deal during the 1938 Democratic primary elections. Foreman recommended that the president sponsor a report documenting what the New Deal had done for the South, and the importance of federal assistance to the region's economic development. As a result, Foreman and other southerners compiled The Report on the Economic Conditions of the South, and Foreman went on to help organize the Southern Conference for Human Welfare (SCHW) in November of 1938 as an expression of southern support for the New Deal.

Foreman became director of defense housing in 1940. A year later a major controversy developed around a housing project built for black defense workers in Detroit in an area bordering a predominantly white neighborhood. When Foreman refused to give in to demands that the Sojourner Truth housing project be changed to white occupancy, southern conservatives in Congress joined with Republicans and successfully pressured for Foreman's dismissal. After leaving the federal government, Foreman became chairman of the SCHW, and devoted his efforts towards challenging segregation and voter restrictions in the South, and expanding the political participation of both blacks and whites.



Foreman, Clark. The New Internationalism. 1934.

Sullivan, Patricia. Days of Hope: Race and Democracy in the New Deal Era. 1996.

Patricia Sullivan

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