J.R. Johnson

Ford Tries to Feed the Negro Poisoned Bait

(12 May 1941)

The Negro’s Fight, Labor Action, Vol. 5 No. 19, 12 May 1941, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

The capitalist class in America is continually using the Negro as a football. Ford the industrialist and Hamilton Fish, the politician, are now playing that game as hard as they can. The NLRB election at Ford’s Detroit plant is near, and Ford is working on the Negroes to wreck the CIO chances. It is a beautiful example of the difference between the barbarism by which alone capitalism can live and the tendency toward a better world which is in the workers’ movement. Organized labor fighting to unite the workers and overcome race prejudice. Ford using all his power to divide them and to stimulate a race riot on a large scale.

The key point is the foundry and rolling mill where most of the moulding is done. There are usually 7,000 Negro workers there and 4,000 white workers. The CIO is having success in organizing the plant. Ford has his service men working among the Negroes getting them to join the AFL. He has given some of his Negro workers time off to work among their fellow Negroes and encourage them to join the AFL. The Negroes traditionally hate the AFL but the word has gone around that Ford is in favor of the AFL and the Negroes are lining up with the AFL (Pittsburgh Courier, April 26). Fighting is going on in the plants. Ford would love nothing better than a real “race” riot, in which whites would kill Negroes and Negroes would kill whites. Then the police would come in. The press would fill the front page with “Reds cause race riot,” etc. The governor would declare martial law. Union organization work would halt. And under cover of this, Ford would mobilize for another offensive against organized labor.

Union Must See the Facts

The Negroes are listening to Ford because he hires 13,000 Negroes out of 80,000 workers in the plant. Skilled Negroes get a chance at Ford. The union must look this fact in the face. Not tomorrow but today the union must assume responsibility for the employment of Negroes in every department of every automobile works in the country. The union must give leadership. It must challenge the Fords for the position of assisting the Negro people to achieve their complete emancipation. Even if the CIO wins the election, that will not settle the question for good and all. America, with the rest of the world, is heading toward a terrific social crisis and the Negro question is going to emerge as one of the chief battle-grounds. Organized labor must make the Negro’s cause its own.

Organized labor must do it. Ford is using the Negroes, of course, only to break the labor movement, whereupon he will of course turn round and beat the Negroes down into a semi-slavery.

Now Hamilton Fish, New York congressman, speaking at the Y’s “Activities week” some days ago, told Negroes that they should dominate the political preferment of eight states but that they must fight for their rights. What is Fish fishing for? Fish is in trouble in his own state. A poll the other day showed that his pro-fascist policy is not popular among his constituents. During the last election, Roosevelt did his best to unseat Fish, Fish is looking round for new support. So he’ll fool some Negroes. “Fight,” says Fish, new friend of Negroes. “Organize and fight for your rights.” And the Negro press writes about Fish’s fighting speech. Fish is fighting for Fish, not for Negroes. In these difficult days, the workers, the oppressed cannot afford to be tricked by the Fords and the Fishes. Don’t listen to them. Labor must battle for the Negroes. The Negroes must battle for white and black labor by both the Fords and the Fishes.

Cold-Shoulder Ford And All Such

Finally, one word which we ask our Negro friends to think over whenever they hear Ford and Fish saying how they love Negroes. The most powerful machine history has ever seen for the grinding out of profit from workers is the Nazi party of Germany. do you know what its full name is? It is the National Socialist Workers Party of Germany. Yes. In order to catch the working class and roll it out flat, Hitler called his party a socialist party and a workers’ party. So when Ford and Fish come fishing in Negro waters with bright bait marked “Friends of Negroes,” the Negroes will say, “We know you. We hear what you say, but we know what you want. We have seen your great hero and model, self-styled friend of the workers in Germany and what he has done to them. We’ll help ourselves, thank you, and we shall, recognize only labor organizations as friends of Negroes, And even when they cold-shoulder us, we shall struggle with them to make them see and we see. But, Mr. Hitler, Mr. Ford and Mr. Fish, to hell with you and all such.”

Last updated on 27.12.2012