BLACK CABINET Presidents of the United States preceding Franklin D. Roosevelt generally did not rely heavily upon black advisers or specialists, even in the area of minority affairs. During the Roosevelt era, however, a relatively large group of African Americans were appointed to responsible advisory positions within the federal government. Although the number of black advisers to Roosevelt fluctuated from year to year, the group itself became known as the President's Black Cabinet. Prominent members of the Black Cabinet were Mary McLeod Bethune, Ralph Bunche, William H. Hastie, Eugene K. Jones, Lawrence A. Oxley, Robert C. Weaver and Robert L. Vann.
According to historian John Hope Franklin, Roosevelt's cadre of African American advisers differed from black advisers in previous administrations in a number of important respects. "In the first place," Franklin states, "the number of 'Black Cabineteers' was fairly large, in contrast to the small number of whom previous Presidents had relied for advice. In the second place, they were placed in positions of sufficient importance that both the government and the Negro population generally regarded the appointments as significant. They were not persons whose relationship with the government was nebulous and unofficial. They were oath-bound servants of the people of the United States."