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The Militant, 31 August 1946

Russell Morgan

“Silent Parade” in Bay City
Protests Against Lynchings

From The Militant, Vol. X No. 35, 31 August 1946, p. 1.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


SAN FRANCISCO – Solemn-faced pall bearers marching to the roll of muffled drums and carrying shrouded caskets symbolizing the death of “Freedom, Equality, Justice and Democracy,” on August 11 led a “silent parade” of 5,000 Negro and white workers in protest against lynch terror in the South.

The protest was sponsored by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Among the organizations that marched were the CIO National Maritime Union; Ship-Scalers and Painters Union; CIO Marine Cooks and Stewards; AFL Miscellaneous Employees Union; CIO Longshoremen’s Local 10; Socialist Workers Party; Communist Party and American Veterans Committee.

Bare-headed marchers, wearing black arm-bands, carried placards bearing such inscriptions as “Death to Georgia Lynchers,” "Lynch Law is Fascist Law,” "Save America from the KKK,” and “Today Negro – Tomorrow You.”

Brass Intervenes

An ominous note was struck by the military Brass Hats at the outset of the parade. Shore patrolmen removed four Negro navy enlisted men. It was learned later they were taken to Shore Patrol headquarters where they were lectured by a navy officer.

Richard Goggin, executive secretary of the San Francisco Area Council of the American Veterans’ Committee, investigated this outrage. He was informed by a chief petty officer in charge of Shore Patrol that he “was acting on orders from the 12th Naval District.” Goggin also said he saw shore patrolmen eject a WAC and five or six soldiers from the line-up as the parade was forming early in the afternoon. These included three AVC memhers, he said.

The march went up Market Street to San Francisco Civic Center, where demonstrators assembled in the plaza before the steps of the City Hall.

Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett, chairman of the memorial service and vice president of the local NAACP, condemned the do-nothing policy of Washington. He said:

“It is obvious that we cannot look to Washington for leadership in building democracy. We, the little people, regardless of race, color, or creed must build a movement which will fight for the equality of all.”

SWP Support

Erwin Elber, trade union director of the California Labor School, said:

“You have only two choices in this fight against fascist terror. You can be terrorized or you can fight.” He stated further that “these lynchings are manifestations of a south that is beginning to stir as a result of economic and political trends – Negroes are demanding the right to vote. Labor, both black and white, is beginning to organize. These are the reasons why the KKK is rising to fight the little people.”

The Socialist Workers Party was successful in mobilizing enthusiastic support among its many Militant readers. SWP leaflets were distributed and literature was sold.

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