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Ben Hall

Detroit WP Appeals to UAW-CIO

For FEPC March on Lansing!

(20 January 1947)

From Labor Action, Vol. 11 No. 3, 20 January 1947, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

An open letter from the WORKERS PARTY to:
Michigan CIO Council
Wayne County Council of the CIO
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People


You, the representatives of organized labor and of Negro and white champions of democratic rights, must call a mass demonstration in Lansing against racial discrimination. The whole labor movement recognizes in discrimination an enemy which undermines its unity, saps its strength, and helps the capitalist class to intensify the exploitation of all workers.

We all rejoice at the success of the recent campaign which gathered more than 175,000 signatures on a petition to force the State Legislature to take up the proposed Fair Employment Practices law (FEPC). Organized labor, the most militant and most powerful fighter for the democratic rights of all people, was above all responsible for this inspiring achievement.

The WORKERS PARTY, officially, and its members through their local unions, gathered several thousands of signatures. Now, we all face a cheap attempt by state officials to nullify the clearly expressed mandate of 175,000 people of the state by utilizing one pretext or another to arbitrarily invalidate the petitions. Every legal channel will doubtless be pursued to fight such an attempt; for we who hate Jim Crow as an enemy of the whole working class must employ every avenue open to us.

Mobilize for Mass Action

But the MAIN TASK today in the fight against discrimination is to mobilize thousands of workers and real fighters for democracy, Negro and white, in MASS ACTION against discrimination.

A state-wide conference in Lansing is planned for January with the announced purpose of supporting the FEPC legislation. It is called by various prominent individuals. THIS CONFERENCE CANNOT AND MUST NOT BE MADE A SUBSTITUTE FOR ACTION BY THE WORKERS THEMSELVES.

One of the sponsors of this conference is Mayor Jeffries. Do you believe that men like him will really fight against race discrimination? Has he not always stubbornly insisted on segregation in housing? Has he ever once applied the wide powers which he can exercise through the various city departments (building, zoning, police) to enforce the Diggs Civil Rights Act, a law Which would make discrimination in hotels, restaurants, etc., illegal, but which has been allowed to remain a dead letter? Have we forgotten how “impartially” his police shot and killed Negroes during the riots of 1943 and looked on passively while they were beaten by KKK type thugs? Is it not a fact that the fascist, Coughlinite, Smithite, KKK hoodlums rally to his side in his campaigns for office and implicitly acknowledge him as their banner bearer?

We cannot rely upon politicians like Jeffries. They do not become sponsors of these conferences because they are eager to add the weight of their office to the fight against Jim Crow. Not at all. They hope to utilize the campaign to patch up their own tattered reputations so that they may remain in office.

How to Fight Against Race Hatred

The conclusion is clear: you must call upon the masses of workers and real democrats, Negro and white, who sincerely detest race discrimination, to rally in Lansing to demonstrate their united will before the State Legislature.

Such a demonstration will serve two aims: (1) It will put pressure on the Legislature to carry out the will of the people. (2) It will show the workers how they must act to fight off race hatred and all reactionary attacks on the labor movement.


Ben Hall, Organizer
Workers Party, Detroit branch
6341 Gratiot, Room 10
Detroit 7, Mich.

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