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Albert Parker

The Negro Struggle

(28 March 1942)

From The Militant, Vol. VI No. 13, 28 March 1942, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Housing Question in Washington

Washington is supposed to be the “headquarters of the democracies.” If you want to know what they mean by democracy in Washington, you ought to read the judgment handed down by District Court Justice McDonoghue early this month.

It seems that a colored woman was living in a part of the city where Negroes are not wanted. It also seems that they have some kind of law against this in the nation’s capital. The judge handed down a ruling ordering her to move in 60 days because she is a Negro. He also issued a permanent injunction against the owners of the building in which the woman lived to prevent them from selling or leasing the property to Negroes in the future.

In Washington, you see, they don’t need a Ku Klux Klan to segregate the Negroes in housing – the government does it for them!

N.J. CIO Sets Up a Committee

The New Jersey CÍO took a very wise and important step last week when it established a special state committee, made up of Negro and white members, to investigate and take action on cases of anti-Negro discrimination in New Jersey plants.

Such a committee has the possibility of doing much more to wipe out industrial Jim Crow than most other organizations set up for the purpose in the past. It has the prestige and authority of the powerful state CIO movement behind it; it has the confidence of large masses of Negro workers in and out of the CIO, who have seen the state leaders of the CIO speak out boldly against Jim Crow on every possible occasion; it is in a good position to help to educate white as well as colored workers as to the meaning of Jim Crowism and to the need for racial solidarity in the fight against the employers’ offensive.

Furthermore, the committee does not intend to restrict its activities to job discrimination or the CIO members alone – it intends to take up other problems of discrimination and segregation as well and to cooperate Wherever possible with AFL unions and other organizations that have similar objectives.

Workers in other parts of the country will watch the development of this committee with interest; if it acts militantly and involves the rank-and-file members of the CIO in its work, similar committees will undoubtedly be set up elsewhere and it may prove to be the first, step toward the creation of a national orghnizatior of Negro trade-unionists fighting Jim Crow which has been so long awaited and is so urgently needed.

Two Ways of Not Skinning the Cat

The American ruling class seems to have two ways of approaching the problem of the growing dissatisfaction and anger of the Negro people With the way they are being treated today.

One way is that of the reactionary poll-tax Congressmen who charge that the Negroes are satisfied and happy, and there wouldn’t be any problem if people would just stop bothering them. Their attitude is expressed by the speech made by Rankin of Missouri in the House of Representatives on March 5:

“Japanese fifth columnists have been, stirring race trouble in this country for a long time ...

“They are working through such organizations as this Civil Liberties Union and Associations for the Advancement of Colored People. In my opinion, they are behind this drive to try to stir up trouble between the whites and the Negroes here in Washington by trying to force Negroes into hotels, restaurants, picture shows, and other public places.

“They know that if they can start race riots in Washington and throughout the country, it will aid them in their nefarious designs against the people of the United States ...

“If these agitators will let the Negroes alone, we will have no trouble with them.

“The white people pf the South who have always been the Negroes’ best friends, and who know the Negro problem, will have no trouble with the colored race if these fifth columnists and the flannel-mouthed agitators throughout the country will let them alone.”

The other method is the one used by the “liberals”. Instead of shutting up the Negroes at a time they are boiling over with resentment, the “liberals” prefer to let the Negro leaders shoot off some steam. An example of this is the calling of a conference in Washington on March 20 by Archibald MacLeish, director of the Office of Facts and Figures. The conference, to which representatives of all the big Negro newspapers and organizations have been invited, will discuss the “wartime problems” of the Negro people, and develop an information program in connection with it.

When the conference is finished, MacLeish will probably hire a few more Negroes to work in his propaganda office. The “information program” they will develop will be used in an effort to convince the rank and file Negro people that everything is fine and dandy, that they are making progress even if they can’t see it, that they would be even worse off if Hitler wins the war, etc.

In short, the difference between these two methods is very superficial. The only way to eradicate the resentment of the Negro people is by wiping out the discrimination, segregation, insult and brutality which create that wholly justified resentment. Both the reactionaries and the “liberals” are united in opposing any steps that would accomplish that.

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