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Albert Parker

Glenn Martin Still Says
He Won’t Hire Negroes

(19 July 1941)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 29, 19 July 1941, p. 6.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Since the Negro March on Washington was called off, the government has done nothing to implement Roosevelt’s executive order which was supposed to do so much to end racial discrimination in the war industries. Yet most of the Negro “leaders” and papers have continued to shout themselves hoarse about the great significance of that executive order.

The reaction of neither the government nor the Negro leaders is half so significant, however, as the reaction of the big business men and industrialists who have up until now continued to refuse Negroes employment in their factories.

Sam Lacy in the Afro-American last week reported on a hearing on housing problems held in Baltimore after the issuance of Roosevelt’s order, in the course of which Glenn L. Martin, president of the big aircraft corporation bearing his name, was asked some very direct questions regarding the problem of employing Negroes, something his company has refused to do up to the present time.

For some reason Congressman Osmers of New Jersey, who was conducting the question, sought to get a statement from Martin with regard to the effects of the president’s order.

Osmers began by asking Martin, to his great embarrassment, what the employment policy of his company was, whether it used Negro labor. Martin replied that it did not, and when asked why, explained as follows:

“Because we have not been able to find a sufficient number of colored men skilled or being trained in the work in which they might be used. And because wherever vocational courses are being conducted in Baltimore there are not enough colored persons taking the courses to justify our consideration of them as likely prospects.”

(Lacy points out that the Martin plant has several thousand people taking training courses on the grounds and that the company refuses to admit Negroes to these courses as well as employment).

Osmers asked Martin if lack of trained colored men was the only reason, and Martin replied: “Well, there are some other factors perhaps. I, personally, have nothing against the colored race, but if I hired them I would be forced to segregate them.”

Pressed for an explanation of this, he said:

“Because I’d be compelled to do so by policy. It is the policy of the State of Maryland to segregate colored people. They go to different theaters, different churches and different schools. They’re segregated all over the State, therefore, I’d have no alternative.”

But is was obvious that there was a real contradiction at this point. Even if Maryland practiced Jim Crowism, President Roosevelt had just issued an order which said there was to be no further discrimination in employment. Martin was trying to justify his vicious policies by pretending that he was only abiding by the laws of the state. But how could he justify that if the federal government had ordered that discrimination must be stopped? Was he “law-abiding” only so far as the state went? Could he justify disregard of a federal order by reiterating his desire to abide by the state’s laws?

Alibi No. 2.
Blames the Workers

Osmers then rushed to Martin’s aid with a “leading question”: “Is it a fact that should you place colored help in your plant you will face an immediate stoppage of work?”

Martin pounced on that excuse. “There would be an immediate stoppage of work. We know that. It couldn’t be avoided.”

Here we see the pretext that will be used by Martin and all the other bosses to justify disregard of the president’s order. It is not they who want to keep Negro workers out of work, oh, no, it is the workers who are responsible! And much as the bosses dislike it, they can’t do anything because after all they are concerned only with “producing” for “national defense,” aren’t they?

Negroes must not be deceived by maneuvers of this kind. They must continue their struggle against the bosses, the government and the Uncle Toms until they win full equality.

White workers must see through Martin’s schemes too. By organizing militant unions that accept Negro workers as brothers and fight for their rights too, the white workers can defeat these attempts to fasten the blame for Jim Crowism on themselves, unite the ranks of the working class and go forward to better conditions for all of labor.

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