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Albert Parker

The Negro Struggle

“Labor with a White Skin Cannot Emancipate Itself Where Labor with a Black Skin Is Branded” – Karl Marx

(13 September 1941)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 37, 13 September 1941, p. 5.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The Kind of War That Negroes Can Support

The Negro people are not pacifists. They view with suspicion the current talk about a war for democracy that will be conducted by a Jim Crow army and navy that will use equipment and munitions made in factories that refuse to hire Negroes. Rightly so.

But the Negro people have been ready to fight in the past on behalf of progress for society. They fought bravely in the American Revolutionary War in 1776, when this country won its independence. They fought bravely and eagerly in the Civil War of 1861 when the unity pf this nation was preserved, the political power of the South broken, and slavery abolished. Even in World War I, when they were told by their leaders that they would get their share of democracy after the war was won, they established an impressive fighting record.

Today they are justly suspicious about being fooled as they were in 1917. But they are ready to fight another war if it will be in their interests.

They are ready to fight against the anti-democratic forces at home, the ruling class that starves, cheats and insults them, that kicks them around, uses them and ignores them. In this war they will give their last drop of blood; no one will have to sell it to them with speeches; no one will have to try to sell them bonds to get them to give everything they have for its victory.

History will look back at it and call it another Revolutionary War, or maybe the Second Civil War, or the Third American Revolution. But the name won’t bother the Negro people so long as they know it will overthrow the whole system of Jim Crowism in all its spheres and permit them to raise their children in security and equality.

Once a serious struggle begins, and the Negro people see on the banners of one army the slogan, “Full social, economic and political equality for the Negro people,” they will rush to enlist in its ranks.

The Fighting Spirit Exists Now

How can we be so sure of this? Because of everything we see around us today. There are some who look at the Uncle Toms and misleaders of the Negroes, the men who sell themselves for a government job or even just a pat on the shoulders by their oppressors – and they say, “My God! What ever makes you think the colored people will ever wake up and fight for their rights?”

But we do not make their mistake of confusing the Negro people with a handful of treacherous and self-seeking lackeys who are only too pleased to have the world think they represent the Negro masses.

Even now, while the Uncle Toms, the Pickenses and Pattersons and Chaplain Robinsons, are doing their best to confuse the Negro masses, there is one example after another of what heroic far-sightedness the masses are capable of.

There is the example of the Negro March On Washington, and the little colored woman, 77 years old, who exemplified the response of the masses to a just fight. She lived in Florida and spent all her time selling buttons to raise money for the March so her people could have jobs and equality. She had money enough to get only as far as Savannah, Ga., about 700 miles short of Washington, but she swore she would get to the capitol even if it meant she would have to walk the rest of the way.

Of course, Randolph and White and the others called off the march, and she was probably a little discouraged. But Randolph and White cannot kill that fighting spirit.

There is the example of the brutality of the white MPs to the Negro draftees at Fort Bragg, and of Private Ned Turman who spoke up against it and was shot dead after he resisted attacks and cried, “I’m going to break up you MPs beating us colored soldiers!”

True, there are men like Chaplain H.A. Robinson at the same fort, a Negro belly-crawler who tries to cover up and justify the murder of Turman, but he cannot cover up or destroy that fight-spirit of Turman’s which sends an inspirational thrill through militant Negroes every time they think that here was a man who did not hesitate to die fighting for democracy.

Why has that war not begun yet? Surely the Negro masses know what they want. But the trouble is that the Uncle Toms work so energetically beclouding the issues that the masses don’t know how to get what they want.

This is the task for the militant, class-conscious Negroes today. They must study the past experiences, they must learn what exactly they have to contend with, just what forces they must fight against, what methods they must use, who their allies and friends are. They must prepare themselves for leadership, and then go out and organize their brothers and sisters for this righteous war.

They will learn that their enemies are the capitalist class, the bosses, and their political organs, the Republican and Democratic Parties. They will learn that they can get even the smallest concessions from these enemies by only fighting with all their might. They will learn that there is another and a much stronger force that has reason to fight and hate the capitalist system, and that is the labor movement which is also oppressed and exploited by the bosses, and they will come to see that they must make common cause with the workers and fight side by side with them against their common enemy. And they will learn through their own experiences that the Socialist Workers Party, the Trotskyists, represent the most consistent force fighting against capitalism and Jim Crow.

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Last updated: 25 May 2016