The Negro’s Fight, Labor Action, Vol. 5 No. 21, 26 May 1941, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.
Defend democracy! Defend democracy! Buy Savings Stamps to defend democracy! Get ready to go into the army in a Jim-Crow battalion to do and die for democracy; get ready to go into the navy and peel potatoes for while sailors (because that’s all you are good for) – the better to defend democracy. Our liberties are in danger!
Roosevelt, Marshall Field, Wallace, LaGuardia, Willkie, the whole boss press, all are trying to drown the common sense of the worker by shouting these slogans, or whispering them, as need be.
But the Negro is tough. He says, “I want to fight for democracy here. I have heard these tales before. I don’t believe them. You are lying to me.” The bosses therefore, as the war gets nearer, torn on the heat. The latest bit of heat is Mr. William Pickens.
Pickens is a Negro who went to Harvard, or Yale, or Princeton, or all three – it doesn’t matter. He is an official of the NAACP and has travelled all over the country, investigating lynchings. raising funds, lecturing, agitating, organizing. He is one of the best known Negro social workers in the country. Pickens knows everybody who is somebody. Everybody who is somebody knows Pickens.
Now Roosevelt wants to sell the war to the Negroes. He wants them to support it. He wants them to take the Jim-Crow scraps he offers them – all for the sake of democracy. He doesn’t want them to raise demands. He wants them to buy War Savings Stamps. It takes a thief to catch a thief, so Franklin D. Roosevelt thinks it is best to take Negroes to catch Negroes. He sends for Pickens to come to Washington and gives him a job to sell War Stamps to Negroes ($6,000 a year, $120 a week).
Naturally, Pickens takes it. Pickens thinks that this country is not perfect, but it is a democracy because HE can get a job for $120 a week. He is prepared to die for this democracy, at least to tell other people to die for it.. So the Negroes can look out for Pickens coming round and writing and speaking and selling them to war, the imperialist war, for profits and trade and land.
The curious thing is that Pickens supported Willkie in the last election. Many Negro politicians worked hard for Roosevelt. Now they are raising blue hell. They say that one of them should have got that nice fat job, and not a Willkie Negro. But Roosevelt knows that to sell the Negroes this war is a hard job. Pickens is the best man to do this Judas job. So he gives him the $120 a week to fool the Negroes.
The millions of sharecroppers, starving and exploited, the Negro workers struggling to get jobs and into unions, kicked around day in and day out by American capitalism, these are the people Pickens will try to fool for Roosevelt’s war. Some of you who read this may one day be at a meeting where Pickens or one of his agents is filling the room with lies about why the Negro should defend Jim-Crow democracy.
Think it over, brother, and see if it wouldn’t be worth our while to ask for five minutes in order to explain to the Negroes there exactly why Judas Pickens is doing Roosevelt’s dirty work.
Last updated on 30.12.2012