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Albert Parker

The Negro Struggle

Senator Taylor’s Arrest

(17 May 1948)

From The Militant, Vol. 12 No. 20, 17 May 1948, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The arrest of Senator Glen Taylor in Birmingham furnished a good example of “the American way of life” in the South, where almost three-quarters of the Negro people reside. Taylor had gone to make a speech to the Southern Negro Youth Conference in a church, and had found the audience strictly segregated, whites on one side of the aisle and Negroes on the other, and cops swarming around the place to make sure the state’s sacred segregation law was enforced. Not only was the audience divided, but there were even two doors for entering the church, the front one for Negroes and a side door for whites.

Taylor decided to go in the front way but when he tried, a big cop shoved him off the porch, and another cop gave him the elbow so hard he was spun across the yard and thrown across a small fence. He had offered no resistance but his suit was torn, his leg was bruised and his hand was cut. He was shoved into a police car and driven off on a roundabout route to the jail; on the way he got the impression the cops were trying to provoke him into some action for which they could beat him up. At the jail he was held for “disorderly conduct” until bail was raised. A few days later he was fined $50 and costs and given a jail sentence of 180 days; the sentence was suspended and an appeal has been filed.

That is what happened to a member of the U.S. Senate, the highest legislative body in the country. It is not hard to imagine what would have happened in this case to a man in a less prominent position – white or Negro. He would be in a jail or hospital (if not in his grave). The Southern ruling class does not fool around when it comes to defending its “way of life.” It proposes to keep the white and Negro workers divided at all costs – by the use of propaganda and Jim Crow laws where possible, and by brute violence where necessary. Anybody who thinks the Southern rulers are going to peacefully accept a civil rights program that alters the Negro’s position in the South is a dreamer, due for a rude awakening.

The judge who sentenced Taylor delivered the usual harangue against “outside influences” that are interfering with the Southern way of life. He did not say anything about the Northern capitalists with investments in the South who have conspired with the Southern rulers for the past 60-odd years to institute and maintain the present Jim Crow set-up. He highly approves of that kind of outside influence. And he did not say a word about the South’s outside influence, exerted through congressmen elected by a tiny fraction of the population, who help to pass laws oppressing the workers of all colors in all parts of the country and who are responsible for the spread of racial hatred and restrictions through the federal government and the armed forces.

What this country needs is the introduction of more “outside influence” in the South, backed up by the power of the organized labor movement. For either the workers of the North will help their Southern brothers end the dictatorial way of life in the South, or the ruling class will extend it to the rest of the nation.

* * *

Just to keep the record straight, the Communist Party was forced to quickly change its false estimate of the Supreme Court decision on restrictive covenants, reported in this column last week. The May 4 Daily Worker did print a story entitled, Supreme Court Voids Restrictive Covenants, which declared that the court had “dealt a serious blow to real estate agreements which bar Negroes from all-white neighborhoods.” However an editorial in the next day’s issue declared: “But that this Court decision gives the Negro tenant or property buyer any substantial gain, as is claimed by certain leaders who are only too anxious to quiet down the indignation of the Negro people, is a fallacy.” Unfortunately, most of the Negro press, who also hailed the court’s OK of restrictive covenants, have not changed their position.

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