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Grace Carlson

Grace Carlson in Memphis on Her Tour

(February 1941)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 9, 1 March 1941, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

MEMPHIS, Tennessee, Feb. 22 – I suppose that every white radical who visits the South for the first time is shocked and enraged by the open cruelties of the Jim Crow system of the Southern Bourbons. That all the colored citizens of the South are herded into Jim Crow restaurants, street cars, waiting rooms, etc., should call forth apologies from Southern Senators rather than their present frenzied demands – they are louder than all others – for support of a war to save this system of “democracy.”

There are encouraging signs of change, however. The CIO has penetrated into the South among the steel and rubber workers, the agricultural and cannery workers and others, and has brought Negro and white workers together into a joint struggle for the betterment of their conditions. There is no doubt that this is uphill work. Coupled with the terror against unions. Southern white workers, burdened with the prejudices of generations, do not readily accept a program for joint action with colored workers. The meeting of white and colored workers held under our party’s auspices in Memphis last night was, therefore, all the more encouraging. A courageous Negro woman gave us the use of her home for the meeting. It takes real courage in Memphis to have a meeting of white and colored people in your home. Members of both AFL, and CIO unions were there – longshoremen, building laborers, textile workers, steel workers and others.

This audience understood readily that Roosevelt and the Southern Democrats would not solve their problems. The need for a revolutionary program was easily seen by them. I am very hopeful that some Negro working class leaders will emerge from this group.

In St. Louis on Feb. 19, there was a good working class audience at the open meeting. Twenty-four people attended, many of them UAW militants.

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