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Albert Parker

The Negro Struggle

Keep an Eye on Congress

(7 June 1948)

From The Militant, Vol. 12 No. 23, 7 June 1948, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Keep your eye on Congress during the next two weeks. That’s when the Democrats and Republicans will put on their bi-annual football game with civil rights bills demanded by the Negro and labor movements. The game generally ends in a tie, so far as these two parties are concerned; the bills get buried in the muck of capitalist duplicity; and Negroes and unionists are left on the sidelines, with no greater satisfaction than the right to hiss.

(And even that right is now being threatened by the Mundt Bill.)

It’s the same old routine of big promises and bigger double-crosses. That goes for the Democrats and Republicans who pretend to be friends of civil rights just as much as it goes for the Southern Democrats who make no bones about their devotion to Jim Crow.

It’s many months now since Truman made his bid for the Negro vote by endorsing the proposals of his civil rights committee. It’s many months now since he promised to issue an executive order eliminating discrimination in federal employment. But, as we predicted, nothing has come of it. Truman didn’t introduce a single bill into Congress, saying he would leave that to the members of Congress, although he followed an entirely opposite procedure on such measures as the aid-to-Greece bill and the Marshall Plan. And, of course, he still refuses to make even a down-payment on his promises by issuing an order, as commander-in-chief, to abolish segregation in the armed forces.

The Republicans have played pretty much the same slimy game. Again and again they promised that if they got control of Congress they would pass the anti-Jim Crow bills. Now they have a clear majority of Congress. But all they have done is stall and maneuver and postpone votes on the civil rights bill until only a few weeks are left for action in Congress. This naturally plays right into the hands of the Southern Democrats, for whom it will be much easier to stage an effective filibuster now than it would have been six or twelve months ago.

Now the Republicans say that at best they can deliver on only one of the promised bills, and even that is in doubt because they have it way down at the bottom of the agenda. The Senate Judiciary Committee had charge of an anti-lynching bill for 17 months, but never managed to get around to sending it to a vote in the Senate. Yet, inside of 24 hours this same Republican-controlled committee sprang to life in order to hold hearings on the Mundt Bill – whose aim is to promote the lynching of civil rights altogether. And Senator Ball tries to pass the buck by saying it will be the fault of the Democrats if no civil rights bills are passed.

This is the time to remember something that happened at the end of June, 1947, when Congress passed the Taft-Hartley Slave Labor Act. At that time a few liberal Senators tried to stage a filibuster to hold up final action on the bill. The Senate immediately went into around-the-clock sessions and quickly smashed that filibuster. And Senator Kenneth Wherry, the GOP party whip, exultantly declared: “This demonstrates you can crack a filibuster whenever a majority is determined to do it.”

Never was a truer word spoken. All of the civil rights bills could have been passed by now if the Republicans had been “determined to do it.” The fact that they weren’t passed and are not likely to be passed this year puts the finger on the Republicans, as well as on the Democrats, as friends of the Jim Crow system. Keep your eye on the capitalist parties now, and show what you think about them by voting for the candidates of the Socialist Workers Party in November.

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