During his presidency, Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed an unprecedented number of prominent African American leaders to positions in cabinet offices and New Deal agencies. These leaders were referred to as the “Black Cabinet” or “Black Brain Trust”. While not official cabinet members, they advised President Roosevelt on a number of issues important to African Americans, such as employment, education and civil rights issues. By mid-1935, there were 45 “Black Cabinet” members including the following: 

Dr. Ambrose Caliver, Department of the Interior
Dr. Roscoe C. Brown, Public Health Service
Dr. Robert C. Weaver, Federal Housing Authority
Joseph H. Evans, Farm Security Administration
Lawrence A. Oxley, Department of Labor
Dr. William J. Thomkins, Recorder of Deeds
Charles E. Hall, Department of Commerce
William J. Houston, Department of Justice
Ralph E. Mizelle, US Postal Service
Dewey R. Jones, Department of the Interior;
Edgar Brown (tennis star), Civilian Conservation Corps
J. Parker Prescott, Housing Authority
Edward H. Lawson, Jr., Works Projects Administration
Arthur Weiseger, Department of Labor
Alfred Edgar Smith, Works Projects;
Henry A. Hunt, Farm Credit Administration
John W. Whitten, Works Projects
Joseph R. Houchins, Department of Commerce
At various times, others included:
William H. Hastie attorney, Department of the Interior
Eugene Kinckle Jones, Department of Commerce
William J. Trent, Federal Works Agency

Mary McLeod Bethune, who was appointed to the National Youth Administration, was the only female member of the “Black Cabinet”.

Photo credit: Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Addison Scurlock, photographer.

During his presidency, Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed an unprecedented number of prominent African American leaders to positions in cabinet offices and New Deal agencies. These leaders were referred to as the “Black Cabinet” or “Black Brain Trust”. While not official cabinet members, they advised President Roosevelt on a number of issues important to African Americans, such as employment, education and civil rights issues. By mid-1935, there were 45 “Black Cabinet” members including the following: 

  • Dr. Ambrose Caliver, Department of the Interior
  • Dr. Roscoe C. Brown, Public Health Service
  • Dr. Robert C. Weaver, Federal Housing Authority
  • Joseph H. Evans, Farm Security Administration
  • Lawrence A. Oxley, Department of Labor
  • Dr. William J. Thomkins, Recorder of Deeds
  • Charles E. Hall, Department of Commerce
  • William J. Houston, Department of Justice
  • Ralph E. Mizelle, US Postal Service
  • Dewey R. Jones, Department of the Interior;
  • Edgar Brown (tennis star), Civilian Conservation Corps
  • J. Parker Prescott, Housing Authority
  • Edward H. Lawson, Jr., Works Projects Administration
  • Arthur Weiseger, Department of Labor
  • Alfred Edgar Smith, Works Projects;
  • Henry A. Hunt, Farm Credit Administration
  • John W. Whitten, Works Projects
  • Joseph R. Houchins, Department of Commerce
  • At various times, others included:
  • William H. Hastie attorney, Department of the Interior
  • Eugene Kinckle Jones, Department of Commerce
  • William J. Trent, Federal Works Agency

Mary McLeod Bethune, who was appointed to the National Youth Administration, was the only female member of the “Black Cabinet”.

Photo credit: Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Addison Scurlock, photographer.