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Albert Parker

The Negro Struggle

Wallace and the Roosevelt Record

(12 January 1948)

From The Militant, Vol. XII No. 2, 12 January 1948, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

In last week’s column we showed there was a suspicious contrast between Henry Wallace’s fine-sounding speeches against Jim Crow nowadays, when he is running for office, and his failure to take action against Jim Crow when he was a high government official. We did it because we knew that his followers would try to cover up the truth about his record.

And sure enough, that is exactly what Benjamin J. Davis, Stalinist New York City Councilman, attempts to do in an article hailing Wallace’s candidacy in the Jan. 4 Worker. Here is what he says:

“For 85 years since the Civil War, the Negro people have seen their hopes for enforcement of their constitutional rights dashed by successive Republican and Democratic Administrations, except for the all-too-brief Roosevelt era.”

It may be too early in the year for predictions, but our guess is that there won’t be a bigger lie than that in all: of 1948. The curious thing about it is that Everybody old enough to read lived through the Roosevelt era, and should know from experience that it is a lie.

What happened in the Roosevelt era (for which Wallace bears as much responsibility as Roosevelt)? Did the administration carry on any kind of campaign to stop lynching? Or the poll tax? Or discrimination in employment? Or segregation in the armed forces? Or restrictive covenants?

The Roosevelt era may have seemed “all-too-brief” for Davis, but for the Negro people it was 13 long years of misery and bitter struggle during which Roosevelt, Wallace and their Jim Crow Southern Democrat pals ganged up to kill every piece of progressive legislation affecting Negro rights.

It is not accidental that Davis begins his Wallace-for-President propaganda by trying to paint up the Roosevelt era in glowing and deceptive colors. After all, Wallace is only trying to repeat the Roosevelt role – which was long on promises and short on performance. Wallace, not being in office, may make even better promises than Roosevelt, but what reason have the Negro people for believing that he will keep them?

When the Stalinists and other Wallaceites come around asking for your support, ask them these questions. Let them, along with the Democrats and Republicans, know that from now on the Negro people will no longer be fooled by the honeyed words of political hypocrites.

* * *

After last week’s column on Wallace had been printed, we were shown a column on the same subject in the Amsterdam News by Lester Granger of the National Urban League, and were asked if there are any differences in our viewpoints. There certainly are. We call attention to the same facts, but for entirely different reasons.

Granger does it because he wants the Negro people to support Truman. We do it because we want the Negro people to join with the union movement in establishing an independent Labor Party which will run labor and Negro candidates in opposition to all the capitalist parties. Our differences with Granger and his fellow Trumanites are just as great as our differences with Wallace or the Stalinists. This will be brought out more clearly as we discuss the Wallace question further.

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