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Albert Parker

The Negro Struggle

(14 March 1942)

From The Militant, Vol. VI No. 11, 14 March 1942, p. 5.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

An Associated Negro Press dispatch from Washington, D.C., reports that the people of the Virgin Islands, United States possessions west of Puerto Rico, have been “excused” from the draft. The islands are in the vicinity of recent enemy submarine action in the West Indies area, they have a total area of 133 square miles, and a population of 25,000, of whom 95% are Negroes. The A.N.P. report declares that the official policy is: “We don’t want colored natives armed and able to shoot.” The Black Dispatch, Negro paper published in Oklahoma City by Roscoe Dunjee, leading Negro Democrat, has a headline over the story which says Army Doesn’t Want Colored Natives Armed Because They May Turn Guns Around. This should settle once and for all the idea that there is some fundamental difference between the attitude of the British Empire toward its colonial subjects, and the attitude of the American government toward its colonial subjects.


From the Workers Defense League Press Service: “Governor Colgate Darden of Virginia reports that he is receiving 50 to 75 letters a day requesting a stay of execution for Odell Waller, condemned Negro sharecropper, whose case is being appealed to the Ú. S. Supreme Court by the Workers Defense League.” Among the unions which have asked the Governor to grant a stay of execution for Waller so that his case may be heard by the Supreme Court, and which have contributed to the Waller defense fund are locals and joint boards of the International Ladies Garment Workers, Amalgamated Clothing Workers, Marine and Shipbuilding Workers, Hosiery Workers, American Federation of Teachers, Meat Cutters and Butcher Workmen, etc.

Waller is scheduled to die March 20 because he defended himself against his white landlord in a dispute over his landlord’s refusal to give Waller’s family their share of the crop. This does not give the defense movement enough time to properly prepare its case for presentation to the Supreme Court. If you belong to a union or any other kind of organization, bring the Waller case up this week and have them pass a resolution asking Governor Darden, Roanoke, Va., to postpone the date of execution. If you want to read more about the Waller case, ask the W.D.L., 112 E. 19th St., New York, to send you a copy of its pamphlet, All for Mr. Davis.


One of the things pretty much overlooked about the Detroit housing “riot” is the responsibility of the federal government itself. True, the city administration was partly to blame; the police force was partly to blame; the federal housing authorities, by their vacillation and their willingness to co-operate with the Jim Crow landlords and the Ku Klux Klan, were partly to blame. But don’t forget that what was behind this “riot” was the idea dear to the hearts of Jim Crow and Judge Lynch that Negroes must be segregated from whites. The official policy of the federal government as expressed in most of its departments is to uphold this system of segregation. For example, the government won’t let Negro soldiers serve in the same regiment as white soldiers, it won’t let Negro sailors, segregated to the kitchen, sleep in the same room with white sailors, etc. And so far as housing goes, in most cases even in the north, it won’t let Negroes live in the same federal housing project as whites; it follows the policy of setting up lily-white and all-Negro projects. Is there anyone who doubts that the Ku Kluxers and their followers are encouraged by such policies?


for a bill, he fights for it, he tells his congressional spokesmen he wants that bill passed, he puts pressure on congressional committees, he issues statements to the press, he delivers fireside chats. That’s how he used to act before the war when he wanted a war measure or appropriation passed. Then on the other hand when he is not interested, Roosevelt can be as silent as the Sphinx — as for example,. when it comes to an antilynching bill.


The Pepper bill is supposed to come before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearings, scheduled to begin March 12. Hundreds of trade unions and Negro organizations are letting the Committee know by telegram and resolution that they want the bill brought to the floor of Congress and passed. Roosevelt will show by his action — or his silence — this week how truthful was his statement last month.


The U. S. Navy is still as strong as ever ... in its determination not to use Negroes in any department but the kitchen. Only last week the Navy Department let a reporter know that it has not retreated an inch ... on this question. Evidently the Navy brass hats will fight to the bitter end ... against equality and democratic treatment for Negroes on ships.


The new Negro paper, The People’s Voice, published in Harlem by City Councilman A. Clayton Powell, Jr. and Charles P. Buchanan, is a hard-hitting addition to the ranks of Negro journalism. It takes a forthright position on the trade union movement, and declares that “This is a working class paper.” If promises, “We cannot be bought, we will not be sold.” We reserve fuller discussion of The People’s Voice for a future issue of The Militant.

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