J.R. Johnson

One-Tenth of the Nation

Southern Liberal and FEPC

(June 1945)

From Labor Action, Vol. IX No. 25, 18 June 1945, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

Here is another phony liberal who has betrayed those who believed in his liberalism. He is Senator Claude Pepper of Florida.

The bill for a permanent FEPC is struggling its way through Congress. It has been on the House desk for three weeks and has gathered no more than 100 signatures.

The present FEPC bill is distinguished by the fact that it has no enforcement powers. You listen to the committee’s investigations. You read its recommendations or throw them into the waste-basket, as you please. No one can do anything. Naturally that sort of bill suits the capitalists very well.

This new bill, however, provides for law enforcement against those who fail to comply. Senator Taft declared himself for the bill but wanted the enforcement clauses taken out. But everybody knows that the Republican senator is a reactionary.

Threatened Filibuster

Senators Ellender and Johnstone have threatened a filibuster. John-stone said he would speak against the bill for three weeks. Ellender said he would speak for five months. But everybody knows that Ellender and Johnstone are reactionary Southerners.

But Senator Claude Pepper of Florida, ah! he is a liberal. He is a friend of Henry Wallace, that friend of the common man. Pepper has been a staunch supporter of the New Deal. Well, a few days ago Pepper encountered the bill in the Senate Education and Labor Committee. Pepper made an “impassioned plea” for withdrawal of teeth from the bill. The Southern senators were both surprised and pleased.

They had cause; Pepper, this liberal; said that he could not afford to have a Negro stenographer in his office and therefore he would not force his constituents to do so. Previously Pepper had supported the bill. Hill of Alabama and Fulbright of Arkansas also opposed the bill. These two also are Southern liberals. But the most outstanding of all the Southern liberals is Senator Pepper.

Pepper’s Campaign

We trust no reader of Labor Action is surprised. But we can give some more data about Pepper. He came up for re-election in 1944. He waged his campaign on the issue of white supremacy. This darling of the liberals (and also of the Communist Party) stumped Florida, out-vying his rival in abusing and slandering the Negro people and feeding the crudest prejudices of the Florida Whites.

For our part, Pepper’s antics are no surprise. Liberals are yellow enough, but a Southern liberal!

Whoever is deceived by them deserves all he gets.

The first FEPC bill, miserable as it was, was placed there because of mass action – the threat of the ‘March on Washington.’ Proponents of this; bill have never hidden their reasons for advocating it. They fear the struggles of Negroes in the post-war period. This was said from the floor of Congress.

The Negro masses have one way of ensuring that this bill will retain some teeth. They must let Washington know in no uncertain terms what they think. And then, who knows, why even the liberal Pepper may support it!

Last updated on 8 June 2016