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Albert Parker

The Negro Struggle

Politics and the NAACP

(31 May 1948)

From The Militant, Vol. 12 No. 22, 31 May 1948, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The NAACP is now preparing to hold its annual conference – this time in Kansas City, Mo., from June 22 to 27. Over 1,000 delegates from 40 states are expected to attend. Enemies of Jim Crow throughout the country naturally wish the conference the best of success in working out a program to meet the needs of the Negro struggle.

But there is no use in hiding the fact that the delegates to this conference will be laboring under a severe handicap – the so-called “non-partisan” , political policy of the organization. Especially in an important election year this policy puts the delegates in the position of fighting Jim Crow with one hand tied behind their back.

Secretary Walter White tried to cover up this fact last week in his press release on the conference, which began as follows: “Political action to secure civil rights guaranteed by the Constitution will be one of the main themes at the 39th annual conference of the NAACP ...”

Sure enough, political action will be one of the subjects at the conference. But not the kind of political action that is required, not the kind that can achieve anything. When White and his fellow NAACP leaders talk about political action, here is what they mean:

The NAACP is going to put on a big campaign to have everybody register in order to be able to vote in November. Vote for what, vote for whom? The NAACP leaders refuse to answer. The most they intend to do is put out a record of the different candidates’ stand on various issues affecting the Negro people.

A better name for this kind of procedure would be “political INaction.” Because what it boils down to is a refusal to take sides in a most crucial election struggle. Negro voters are confronted on the one hand with candidates who are their bitter enemies and on the other hand with candidates who stand for a program of equality for the Negroes. Yet on the political field – which is the decisive field – the NAACP leaders refuse to lift a finger to fight their enemies or aid their friends.

The reactionary Southern Democrats know better than that. They fight the Negro people with every weapon at their disposal and the weapon they use most vigorously is politics. How can the Negro organizations possibly cope with their enemies unless they are equally active and aggressive in this field?

We are well acquainted with the NAACP leaders’ arguments against independent political action, but they are not very impressive. Walter White & Co. claim that if the NAACP gives up its outmoded “non-partisan” policy, it will lose many of its present big-shot friends. But what good are “friends” who would desert you because you showed you meant business about fighting Jim Crow? Instead of losing influence by a firm, independent political program, the NAACP would actually win millions of new adherents.

The best thing the coming NAACP conference can do will be to brush aside such silly arguments, flatly condemn the capitalist parties as Jim Crow enemies of the Negro people, and call on the trade union movement to join it in building an independent workingman’s party devoted to the interests of the working class and the Negro people. It is no longer possible to be “non-partisan” in the political fight against Jim Crow.

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