G.F. Eckstein

Randolph’s Anti-Draft Proposal Sharply
Divides Negro Leaders

(19 April 1948)

Source: The Militant, Vol. 12 No. 16, 19 April 1948, p. 3.
Source: PDF supplied by the Riazanov Library Project.
Transcription/Mark-up: Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

The Randolph-Reynolds defiance of Jim Crow in the Army is producing wide repercussions.

Since his testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee, where he stated he would urge civil, disobedience in the draft, the Committee Against Jim Crow in Military Service and Training, of which Randolph and Reynolds are officers, has announced that “Don’t Join a Jim Crow Army” buttons will be distributed throughout the country.

The declarations of the Committee have already driven a wedge among the Negro leaders. Most of the Negro newspapers refuse to support Randolph. The same position has been taken by many of the big names among the Negro leaders, Walter White, Dr. Channing Tobias, (who served on the President’s Civil Rights Committee) and Lester Granger of the Urban League. But the Randolph Committee is prepared for this.

One of its members, in an interview with the Negro press, said that the Committee did not expect 100% support from either the Negro press or “top-flight Negro leaders” It was looking instead to smaller groups and the “so-called average man in the street.” In plain words, Randolph was looking to the masses of the Negroes and not to the big-name leaders who control the Negro organizations.

The civil disobedience proposals of the Randolph Committee are already making things hot for many of the Negro politicians. This is shown in connection with Eisenhower’s testimony on segregation in the Army before the Senate Armed Services Committee. Eisenhower came out flatly for segregation “at the platoon level,” giving as one of his reasons the educational inferiority of Negroes.

The General’s testimony exploded in the Negro community and in the face of many Negro politicians, above all, in the face of Walter White, national secretary of the NAACP. White is one of the most notorious of the Negro leaders who act as intermediary between the Negro masses and the New Deal wing of the Democratic Party.

Praised Eisenhower

For years his function has been, behind a smoke-screen of Supreme Court cases and “stern” criticism, to line up the Negro vote for the Democratic Party and generally keep Negro wrath within safe bounds. The liberals, today, recognizing that the workers will not vote for Truman are whooping it up for Eisenhower. White fell in line and wrote a syndicated column for the Negro press praising Eisenhower’s attitude towards Negroes and on the segregation issue. White reported that on the basis of personal conversations he could testify that the General would fight bravely against Jim Crow.

Two days before the column appeared Eisenhower gave his brutal testimony. It was too late, it seems, to stop the column. White was caught red-handed. He hastily made a statement denouncing Eisenhower and claiming that he had been naive in trusting the General’s words. Eisenhower’s testimony, according to the Amsterdam News of April 17, has driven off potential Negro supporters.

White and his type have gotten away with this sort of thing for years. Now the position of the Walter Whites is made more difficult, by the action of the Randolph Committee Against Segregation. Randolph, Reynolds and George S. Schuyler, the well-known Negro columnist of the Pittsburgh Courier, acting on behalf of the Committee, addressed a letter to Army Secretary Royall, Justice Owen J. Roberts, chairman of the National Security Committee, and to Eisenhower himself. They declared that Eisenhower’s testimony had recruited “untold thousands” into the ranks of Negroes prepared to boycott any Jim Crow draft. The letter stated that the Committee is demanding that America’s Town Meeting of the Air debate military segregation in the army. “Negro citizens,” the letter read, “are no longer disposed to deal gently with this greatest national insult to their personalities.”

Thus the line is being drawn between the Negro stooges who are always looking for crumbs as a price for keeping the Negroes quiet and those who demand action. If Randolph , and Reynolds stand firm, then the position of White, Lester Granger, Channing Tobias and the others will become increasingly difficult.

In 1941 when the mass movement similarly threatened the Negro stooges, White and Randolph joined together and beheaded the March on Washington Movement at the behest of Roosevelt. Today the Negro’s fight for equality has risen to a higher level. The Randolph declaration is a symptom of this increasingly militant temper of the Negro masses. Regardless of the,subsequent actions of Randolph or any other individual, these, masses are now determined more than ever before, to embark on a policy of struggle and to find a leadership that will lead them in struggle.

Last updated on 3 February 2022