J.R. Johnson

Stand Together, Fight For Jobs – That’s the Way

(23 September 1940)

The Negro’s Fight, Labor Action, Vol. 4 No. 24, 23 September 1940, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

In the struggle for jobs, Negroes must not lose heart by the difficulties they will meet. The thing to do is to organize. Negroes must not go begging, one by one, for a job as a special favor. That would be of small value in the great crisis. They must organize.

A vigorous, intelligent Negro can achieve wonders in this work if he follows the principles of proletarian struggle. Do not go begging to the contractor or the boss. Do not ask the Negro parson, or the white parson for that matter, to say a word for the Negroes. Let any Negro who sees the situation get together with a few of his fellow-workers and his friends, their wives and families. Call a meeting, plan the future, find out where there are jobs in the district, contact the. local unions and the local political parties and demand jobs as a right, not as a, favor. The ruling class expects to put five million men to work between now and this time 1941. The Negroes must get a substantial number of these, or they are lost in the difficult days that are to come.

You Must Be Up And Doing

You demand and are refused. Ask why! Write letters to the press, not very long letters, but stating, simply and clearly, what this American democracy does to the Negro people. If the press refuses to print the letter, then publish It yourselves on a leaflet and distribute it all over the town. Call other meetings. Get the local Negro population interested, and the white workers too.

You will get support only when people see that you are up and doing, and not taking the blows of American democracy lying down. Organize and fight, my Negro friends, organize and fight and fight, because tough times are ahead. and whether times are tough or not, you need to find your place among the workers.

If things look black, keep on fighting. Let every one in your town know that the Negroes are dissatisfied and are demanding their rights, above all their elementary right to a job. If you live in a district where there are members o( the Workers Parly, consult them. They will help, but do not wait for such help. Write to this paper and we will be glad to give such help as we can. But organize and demand some rights!

A Lesson Learned in Baltimore

Listen to this story: some years ago, a white southerner came to live in Baltimore and was appointed a member of the school board. This prejudiced scoundrel saw the children of Baltimore, white and black, going to the same schools. No one objected. It had been like that for years. But it hurt the soul of this poisonous beast, and he began to work to change it. One by one he worked on the members of the board and brought them over to his point of view. After six years he had a majority and the board passed a law separating the white children from the black in a certain district.

The Negro parents would not accept this. They refused to send their children to school. They educated them at home as best they could. After a struggle lasting nearly two years, they won. The Jim-Crow attempt was wrecked and all the children thereafter went to school together.

It Takes Patience and Persistence

We can learn much from that. But for this persistent snake, the problem would never have risen at all. But patiently and with persistence he worked to introduce his reactionary ideas. We must have the same patience and persistence. If the first attempt to organize Negroes for jobs fails, try again. Win over some supporters one by one, and it won’t take six years to do it.

Note next how the southerner was beaten. The people just refused to stand for it, and by holding together, after a long struggle they won. That is the spirit of organization. All together and fighting determinedly. Your wives who have to bear the burden of living on a few dollars from the relief bureau must be drawn into the struggle. They must demonstrate with you. They must write to the press, they must go with you to ask for the job.

Once more: Tough times are ahead. Negroes must organize, or they will be battered soft. Organize now. Fight for jobs in industry. You need them to live and to tie yourselves to the labor movement.

Last updated on 6.10.2012