J.R. Johnson

One-Tenth of the Nation

(2 September 1946)

From Labor Action, Vol. 10 No. 35, 2 September 1946, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

The Democratic Party and the Republican Party are fighting it out in Harlem and through their candidates (both Negroes) have given notable examples of their uselessness to the masses of the people.

State Commissioner of Correction Grant Reynolds, Republican, has been attacking his rival, Congressman Adam Powell. The Amsterdam News, a Republican Harlem paper, has printed a full account of this attack. It is a monument of cheap politics and name calling. It is worthwhile repeating some of it because it tells a political story – an old story – the bankruptcy of Republican politics, both in regard to the nation and to Negroes in particular.

Reynolds Line Is Small Potatoes

Commissioner Reynolds accuses Powell of getting $500 for a speech. Rev. Powell has an agent who books him for speaking tours and the Congressman makes a lot of money.


The Congressman does not attend to his duties in Congress. And now that the Congressman is a father he will be so busy attending to his baby that he will have still less time for his congressional duties. Therefore, vote for Grant Reynolds. Presumably he has no babies or only big ones.

The Harlem people should laugh the Republican Party and Commissioner Reynolds out of court. The Republican Party has no policy. All their Presidential candidate can say is that he will do what the Democrats are doing and do it better.

That was Willkie’s campaign line. That was Dewey’s campaign line. Commissioner Reynolds has nothing to say and for that reason is compelled to fall back on personal abuse of his rival.

What Is Powell’s Record?

No, we, the Workers Party, who are running E.R. McKinney for Congress in Powell’s district, have some political questions to ask of Congressman Powell. The People’s Voice speaks authoritatively for the Congressman. He is its editor-in-chief, although for the time being he is on leave of absence as a Congressman. What does the Voice say in his favor?

The issue of August 17 prints a list of jobs that were gotten for Negroes by Congressman Powell. Thus we are fold that Thomasina Johnson got a job at $7,500 a year in the Department of Labor. At the other end of the list one Corliss Crocker got a job in the House Office Building at $2,000 a year. Then follow others whose pay presumably is less than $2,000. Adelaide Holloway has got a job in the Bureau of Engraving, and Carrie Hill in the War Department has been promoted – yes, sir, “promoted to inspector of women’s garments.”

Are the people of Harlem going to accept this as a testimony to Congressman Powell’s good political record? Not for one moment do we wish to sneer at any Negro getting a good job? Negroes are shamefully excluded from the better-paid jobs in the U.S. Part of the Negro struggle for equality is the right to have any job for which he is fitted. It is a democratic right. But a Democratic Party politician can get jobs for his constituents when you have a Democratic administration. By the same logic Harlem should vote for Republican candidates for the state legislature. They can and do appoint Negroes to jobs. Did Congressman Powell get a job at $7,500 for Thomasina Johnson? But Governor Dewey appointed Mr. Rivers to a judgeship worth $15,000 a year. So Governor Dewey by this reasoning is worth twice as much as Congressman Powell. Did Congressman Powell get 100 jobs for Negroes? Then Governor Dewey can claim that he got 200 or 300 for that matter. Didn’t he appoint Lester Granger as one of the commissioners to enforce the Ives-Quinn Bill? The salary was $10,000 a year.

In fact, Dewey made these and other appointments precisely to fool Negroes and distract them from his reactionary politics. He has not lifted a finger to stop police brutality in New York. He whitewashed the police murder at Freeport, Long Island. O’Dwyer is a Democrat. Harlem is burning up with anger at the brutality of Mayor O’Dwyer’s police. Yet both Democrats and Republicans can point to a few jobs given to Negroes.

There Are All Kinds of Jobs

This is characteristic of. both parties. More than that. It is characteristic of reactionary political regimes which are defrauding the people. The British Government is an absolute master at it. Whenever people in the colonies demand political rights, the British Government appoints some local man to a big job and tries thereby to pacify the political aspirations of the people. The American Government is doing the same. It appointed Judge Hastie, a Negro, as Governor of the Virgin Islands. But that does not mean one ounce of greater freedom for the people of the Virgin Islands.

Negroes have rights to all jobs. But both parties have been using jobs for a few Negroes as substitutes for the democratic rights of the majority.

Now there are other kinds of jobs besides judgeships and jobs in the Labor Department. There are jobs for thousands of workers in industry. Those are the jobs we are interested in chiefly, for those are the jobs the masses need. And what did Congressman Powell’s party do about these jobs? Zero. The Democrats and Republicans between them conspired to kill the Permanent FEPC Bill in Congress.

The Workers Party supports no representative of these parties. Both capitalist parties give out a few jobs for white-collar workers in order the more surely to distract the people from their failure to insure full democratic rights to the masses.

But didn’t the Congressman bring in bills, to cure these evils? Next week we shall examine this.

Last updated on 8 July 2019