Main LA Index | Main Newspaper Index

Encyclopedia of Trotskyism | Marxists’ Internet Archive

Labor Action, 23 December 1946


Sarah Evans

One-Tenth of the Nation


From Labor Action, Vol. 10 No. 51, 23 December 1946, p. 1.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


This week the column is handed over to a Negro comrade, Sarah Evans. A supporter of Labor Action and a hard worker in the labor movement, Sarah Evans has had experience of life in the South and in the industrial and urban life of the North. Yet she was moved to write not so much a political analysis as an expression of the feelings, that lie behind the day to day grind. The statement is in many ways revealing and worthy of attention. J.R. Johnson will make some comments on it in the next issue. The statement is reproduced substantially as it was written. – Ed.


The Negro is oppressed by the actions of his fellow white man. He does not have the opportunities of the White man. First, he must fight for the right to do things and then fight to do them.

He has been oppressed for so long that now he is beginning to rebel against his fellow-men; those who are for him and those against him. He is asking why he is discriminated against because his skin is black. Is there any justice in it? No. All are alike, all people. They have been made the same way. Some Negroes may not have the standards of the white man. But is that his fault? You did not give him a chance to develop his knowledge like you. This is not going to stop him from his rebellion. He has come far from slavery, he worked hard to get out of slavery; you can bet your life he is going to work harder than ever to overthrow all that is against him today.

Tired of Talk

The oppressed Negro has contributed much to the world. But what does he get in return? Nothing, absolutely nothing. Why did Negro men and women fight in the war? What did they gain? They fought for freedom, justice, equal rights and a right to be a free man. But after fighting, losing his life, part of his limbs, what does he get for it? Nothing, absolutely nothing. Put yourself in his place and see if you could go through all this and live.

No, you are always saying, “Let’s do something.” But what do you do? Nothing but talk. No action. You think that if you give him a little piece of bread you have given him a great thing. But as you know, man cannot live on bread alone. He has to have something else to go with bread in order to live. Do you think the stealing and rioting that goes on would happen if he were better treated? No it would not. Take a look at the Negro down South, what a mess he is in. Poll tax, discrimination to the nth degree, no privileges at all. Do you think that under the society of today he can stay that way? And if today someone started a war to get him his privileges, do you doubt they would win. I have not the slightest doubt that he would win; he has fought longer than anyone to get these rights and he would fight until he won. He asks for these rights to keep down bloodshed. If there is no other way but by shedding blood he will come to that.

Think About It!

The oppressed Negro has proven he has the right to be equal to any other map. But has society accepted it? No. Some individuals have but the majority have not. They go on practicing what they were taught by their mothers and fathers. Down through the generations it has been said the Negro in the South is the worst of all Negroes. Have you ever sat down to think what they go through with? Well, just think about it for awhile. Would you go through with it? Would you sit down and watch your next door neighbor go through this agony and pain and suffering? No. Then why let other people go through it?

When you get on a bus do you know how it feels to be told to go to the back when there are plenty of seats in front? If a baby cries, the driver gets up, comes back and slaps your child and laughs in your face and says: "Keep that damned bastard quiet." Would you let that happen to your wife? If a white man is killed, no matter who killed him, a Negro is lynched for it. Does it give you satisfaction to kill an innocent man? Will it help any? No, it just makes matters worse.

The struggle to make enough money to keep your family going from one week to another is so painful you don’t know where you stand. You get low pay and pay high prices to live.

Discrimination is more horrible than you can think. If someone looks at you and doesn’t like your looks you are put out. You are made to sit in the upper balconies that are never clean; old and rusty. The bathrooms are so horrible that you can’t go in. The houses some live in have no tops. If it rains, there is no cover and you have to live in two rooms with families of ten. No space., no privacy, no food, or clothing. And yet, letting this go on you say you are a human being. Living in such a nation as this one, are you? Could you justly say, “I am human.” No, you could not. You could say it but you would know deep down inside that it was a lie when your fellowman is so degraded.

Do you know why the Negro rejoins the Armed Forces? So he can go back to foreign countries and live like a human being. There is little discrimination, you ca.n work, save your money then live on your earnings. You don’t have to fight for something you know is rightfully yours and then fight to keep it.

Florida Incident

Have you ever been afraid to do something you know is right and yet your whole life depends on doing the right and not the wrong? This is what happened to the oppressed Negro in a small resort town in Florida in the year Nineteeen Hundred and Thirty-one (1931). One hot night in September near the election of city officials, the Ku Klux Klan paid the Negroes of that community a call, urging them not to elect the man that they had been supporting before. They marched down the street in twos on their white horses, guns on their backs, ready to start a lynching spree at any moment.

Little did they know, that the people of that community had their guns in readiness for battle. For the day before all houses had been searched for guns. Only a few had been found. Knowing that there might be trouble, after the search every man secured a gun from some source even though closely watched. They were in readiness for anything.

But the KKK, wearing hoods so they wouldn’t be recognized, only marched through the streets with signs and left. But they failed in their warning because the people in anger and bitterness made more effort to put this man into office. He was elected. The National Guard was called in to “protect the Negro” but nothing happened. Everything quieted down and after three or four weeks everything was peaceful. They did not want this man elected because he was a Northerner and was doing more for the Negro and the poor whites than anyone had ever dared to do. And so the Negroes there have accomplished a little toward their goal of being given a right to live like human beings.

The Ku Klux Klan was formed to put hate into people, to make them oppose one another, especially minority groups. They told the middle class these people would take away their jobs. The people were blind to the true facts.

The Negroes have progressed very far in the last ten years to make themselves known. His fellowman has come to know him better but not much. He has a fight on his hands to win. The leaders of this country are no help to him or his people. They make flowery speeches which are forgotten before they leave the stand. They elect people who are trying to keep white supremacy in this world forever.

The Negroes of the South do not want to leave their homes. They are always told to leave if it is so bad. They stay, you ask why? Because they have learned to love them and care for them. They belong there and will stay and fight until the last is dead. The men who have returned from World War II have faced life and death. They feel they had nothing to fight for but now they are home they have a lot to fight for. The things that were promised were just a dream and now they have to face the reality. They have to try to fix a better future for their children.

Wake up America or you will be in for a great shock one early day. The people of this country are tired of being treated like animals and not like human beings. We have just begun to fight to live like humans or die as people ...

Top of page

Main LA Index | Main Newspaper Index

Encyclopedia of Trotskyism | Marxists’ Internet Archive

Last updated on 21 July 2020