J.R. Johnson

One-Tenth of the Nation

Bilbo: Murderer of the FEPC

(8 July 1946)

From Labor Action, Vol. X No. 27, 8 July 1946, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

Senator Bilbo has called upon the white people of Mississippi to prevent the Negroes from voting, by force if need be. Certain elements of the capitalist press have distinguished themselves by violent attacks upon Bilbo as a disgrace to the nation and to the democratic tradition. This column does not become excessively excited about them. But when the Senate joins in and decides that one of its innumerable committees should investigate Bilbo’s statements and activities, then it is time to intervene.

No activities of the Senate can excuse them from direct responsibility for Bilbo.

Bilbo is one of the leaders of that group of southern Senators who have filibustered away the anti-lynching bill and the permanent FEPC bill. The Senate allowed Bilbo to do this.

What is Bilbo’s chief political appeal to his constituents today? It is that he, by his efforts in the Senate, was chiefly instrumental in preventing the extension of FEPC. The South, and particularly Mississippi, is very hostile to FEPC. We repeat, the Senate is responsible for Bilbo.

Long Speeches in Senate

Bilbo does not make offensive remarks only in Mississippi. He does it consistently in the Senate itself. Senators frequently make long speeches in the Senate, not for the benefit of other Senators, but in order that these remarks, printed in the Congressional Record at government expense, may be distributed to their constituents at home. Nobody abuses this practice more than Senator Bilbo. What is the attitude of the other Senators? They yawn and say: Don’t mind him. He is just “Bilboing.”

This is a new political term in Washington, to “bilbo” – that is to say, to use the Senate as a forum to preach race hatred, to denounce Negroes, Italians, Jews and labor leaders.

To sit and yawn over these things, and “not to mind” them, is to encourage Bilbo.

Senator Robert Taft says as follows to complaints about Bilbo’s conduct.

“We have considered filing a petition to oust him by a two-thirds vote, but he would revel in the publicity of a trial. Of course, as a general thing, Senators cannot begin denouncing other Senators because they disagree with them, but certainly Bilbo is not in the same basis as any other Senator that I know of.”

What a hypocritical letter! Nobody is asking Senator Taft to take action against Bilbo in the Senate because he disagrees with Bilbo’s political views. Many right-minded citizens believe that Bilbo’s violent preaching of race hatred and his remarks, stinking with insults to many millions of American citizens, are offensive to all persons. To the extent that in his letter and his political conduct he avoids the issue, he is also responsible for Bilbo.

Mayor of Washington

Bilbo today is chairman of the Senate’s District of Columbia committee, and is virtually the mayor of the city of Washington. He is one of the main elements who help keep Washington a center of Jim Crow. But how come that this reactionary southern Senator can hold such a responsible post?

It is because Congress and thousands of capitalists in the United States do not want the large Negro population in Washington to exercise the vote. In this respect, also, they prefer Senator Bilbo to the exercise of democratic rights by the citizens of the nation’s capital. Here again, they are responsible for and encourage the Senator.

All mass campaigns against the Senator, all expressions of popular resentment, are valuable. But the labor movement has to ask itself: How comes it that organized labor is in the same political party with this enemy of progress? Bilbo is only a symbol. Labor has to get its own party. This party will not only exclude Bilbo from its ranks. One of its main tasks will be to wipe away him and all such from participation in American political life.

Last updated on 8 July 2019