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Albert Parker

The Negro Struggle

After Randolph’s “Bomb”

(3 May 1948)

From The Militant, Vol. 12 No. 18, 3 May 1948, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The civil disobedience proposal of A. Philip Randolph and Grant Reynolds has already had Some noteworthy results. For one thing, it has stirred up the thinking of millions of people over the problem of the next steps to be taken in the fight against Jim Crow. For another, it is separating the sheep from the goats among those who pretend to be friends of the Negro people. For a third, it is putting real pressure on the Negro leaders, forcing them to take a stronger stand than ever before.

Everyone knows now how Eisenhower was provoked by Randolph’s testimony into blurting out his own Jim Crow position on segregation in the army – which was all to the good because it cleared up many illusions that were being spread about this militarist. Not so well known, but just as significant, has been the behavior of the liberal Republican, Senator Wayne Morse.

Morse is the man who threatened Randolph with prosecution for treason. He is also a member (like Randolph) of the national board of directors of the NAACP. He threatened to resign from the board if the NAACP did not dissociate itself from Randolph’s proposal. Secretary Walter White assured him that the NAACP had not endorsed Randolph’s position, but reminded him that the Negro people are fed up with the way they are being treated, and thoroughly disgusted with the way both parties in Congress are playing politics with the civil rights program. White complained, for example, about the Republican Party’s decision to bury anti-poll tax and FEPC bills.

In reply, Morse rushed to the defense of the Republican Party, saying, that everything had been going well with the civil rights program in Congress “until the proposal for a civil disobedience program was dropped into our midst as a bomb.” To show what a ridiculous alibi this is, we need only point out that the Republicans had control of Congress for 15 months before Randolph’s proposal. What stopped them from passing the bills during that time? In other words, Morse is a stooge for the capitalist parties, and we have Randolph’s proposal to thank for exposing how foolish it is to place any hope at all in such people, even when they disguise themselves as liberals.

And last week we witnessed still another effect resulting from Randolph’s “bomb.” Fifteen conservative Negro leaders had been summoned to Washington by Secretary of Defense Forrestal, who expected to persuade them to again act as “front men” for continued Jim Crow practices, as most of them had done in the past. But the whole thing blew up in Forrestal’s face, because even these conservative Negro leaders feel the pressure of the Negro masses so sharply that they had to make an about-face and issue the following statement after the conference: “The group agreed that no one wanted to continue in an advisory capacity on the basis of continued segregation in the armed services.”

All these are heartening developments, signifying that the struggle against Jim Crow is rising to a new and higher level of militancy.

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Last updated: 30 January 2022