AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – During November 2023, KAMR Local 4 News Reporter Jack Kessler marked the 90th anniversary of the New Deal, which was introduced by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to aid in the country’s recovery from the Great Depression of the 1930s.
The New Deal, introduced in 1933, came as the US reached an all-time high 25% unemployment rate, and rolled out a series of programs, regulations, public works projects, and financial reforms intended to provide relief to communities across the nation. This included the Texas Panhandle and High Plains region, which experienced not only the Great Depression but also wrangled with the devastating droughts of the Dust Bowl throughout the 1930s.
As discussed in the KAMR Local 4 News New Deal 90th Anniversary special program, the movement provided historic aid and development to finance, education, infrastructure, utilities, and further to the High Plains.
The special program featured seven closer looks at the history and aspects of the New Deal, as well as their impact on the region, including:
“What was the New Deal?” – A closer look at what led to the creation of the New Deal in the 1930s, as well as the measures and programs that encompassed it.
“How the New Deal helped the banking system recover” – An exploration of the financial reforms and impact on the US banking system, and the banks and financial infrastructure of the High Plains, that were brought to fruition by the New Deal.
“How educational institutes of the High Plains were impacted by the New Deal” – As part of the New Deal’s broad impact on the US, it also allowed for the creation and expansion of schools across the country. On the High Plains, this also meant specific benefits for Texas State Teachers College – now known as West Texas A&M University – and Amarillo College.
“How the New Deal helped establish Palo Duro Canyon State Park” – Now known as the Grand Canyon of Texas, Palo Duro Canyon State Park is home to hiking, biking and equestrian trails, campsites, and the iconic TEXAS Outdoor Musical. However, while it began its journey to become a state park in 1906, the New Deal and the Civilian Conservation Corps played an important role in the process.
“The High Plains’ unsung heroes of the New Deal” – While the New Deal offered the overall framework and guidelines that would create the programs and developments that aided the High Plains in its recovery from the Great Depression, it took numerous community leaders, organizers, and businessmen to successfully get them built. Two of those people, lesser-known for their work with the New Deal than their numerous other accomplishments, were Alson Asa Meredith and Guy A. Carlander.
“President Roosevelt’s ‘Fireside Chats’ helped calm nerves during times of difficulties” – While the Amarillo area was the home to one of the first licensed radio stations in the country, WDAG, which broadcasted the first radio concert in 1922, that also meant that listeners around the High Plains were also within the reach of Roosevelt’s iconic “Fireside Chats,” which entered the US airwaves during times of national difficulty.
“Documenting the legacy of the New Deal” – The New Deal and its programs are the subject of dozens of historical works, textbook entries, pieces of media, and historical plaques across the US. However, the impact is also felt not only in antiquity but ripples into the modern day.
In 2023, KAMR Local 4 News continues to remember the hard work, ingenuity, sacrifice, and organization of thousands of people and programs that have crafted the Amarillo and High Plains region into the shape it holds today.