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Albert Parker

The Negro Struggle

“Labor with a White Skin Cannot Emancipate Itself Where Labor with a Black Skin Is Branded.” – Karl Marx.

(1 March 1941)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 9, 1 March 1941, p. 5.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Fate of France’s Negro Troops

The most interesting story of the week was undoubtedly the banner story in The Pittsburgh Courier, under the title Half Million Black Men Killed To Save Honor of France, by R. Waller Merguson, the Courier’s war correspondent, who has just returned from Europe.

In this, the first of a series, Merguson tells a story which has never before been printed, the account of what happened to at least a million Negro soldiers who were drawn out of the African colonies and into the French army as shock troops to stop the oncoming Nazi war machine.

No one has written about it before only because both the French and the Germans don’t want the truth to come out, says Merguson. That truth is that these Negro soldiers were mowed down in cold blood! No prisoners were taken. These colored soldiers are not in Germany, they are not in any part of France, occupied or unoccupied, they were never sent back to Africa.

Since the article is copyright, and “reproduction in whole or in part expressly forbidden,” we are unable to say much more about it. Our advice: don’t fail to get a copy of the Feb. 22nd Courier!

* * *

The Poll Tax Fight

Action is being undertaken this week to petition the House of Representatives to bring H.R. Bill 1024. the anti-poll tax measure, out of committee, so that open discussion and a vote may be held on it in Congress.

This bill provides that failure to pay poll taxes shall not he used to prevent anyone from voting for candidates for federal office. Although, consequently, it provides for only a very partial reform, it is certain that it will be fought tooth and nail by the poll tax politicians who smothered the anti-lynch bill to death after a petition had brought that measure to the floor in last year’s session of Congress.

Judas Goats (Colored)

Dr. Rayford W. Logan, chairman of the National Committee on the Participation of the Negro in National Defense, did much this week to advance the cause of abolishing Jim Crowism in the armed forces.

Logan stated that the three colored men holding administrative assistant posts (Hastie of the Department of War, Johnson of selective service, and Weaver of the National Defense Advisory Committee) had been appointed only to serve as “barriers” against Negro “pressure groups” and were “being used to give them “a grand runaround.”

Anyone who tried to deny this would be a fool. These men are the salesmen of the Jim Crow policies of the administration. Their mere presence is supposed to refute the well-known “white supremacy” theories of the war and navy departments. Jim Crow announcements, coming from the lips of colored men, are supposed to sound better.

* * *

Jim Crow in “Defense” Jobs

A classical example of the endless circle of the runaround being given Negro labor by both the story of the Nashville, Tennessee, branch of the N.A.A.C.P., which has been carrying on an active campaign to attempt to get Negroes into industry.

First the branch tried to get a defense training course from the government and the local school Board so that Negroes would be able to get some training and qualify for skilled and semi-skilled jobs in the Nashville plant of the Vultee Aircraft

But the local school board replied that there was little chance of such a course being opened to Negro workers, because the Vultee management would not employ Negroes “in skilled capacities, even if properly trained persons were available.”

The branch then turned to the management of Vultee. The reply of the industrial relations manager was that they “do not now believe it advisable to include colored people with our regular working force. We may, at a later date, be capacities such as porters and cleaners.”

“From this distance,” says an Afro-American editorial entitled Why We Are For Henry Ford, “it doesn’t seem to us half so important whether or not the Ford plants are organized, as whether the Ford principle of equal opportunities for all workers shall survive and flourish.” (The “Ford principle of equal opportunity” referred to is the policy of hiring Negroes as “strike insurance” and threatening to fire them if they join the CIO union trying to organize the Ford. Empire.) “From this distance,” that is, from Baltimore, it may not seem so important to an editorial writer but to the Ford Negro workers who have to work at a pay 10¢ an hour lower than the national average for auto workers and who have to endure an inhuman speed-up which leaves them limp and almost lifeless after work, it seems a good, deal more important.

Warning was served on the AFL Executive Council by the NAACP that if certain AFL unions, such as the machinists, do not cease discrimination against Negro workers, they would “have no other resource” than to seek legislation amending the National Labor Relations Act to deny such unions the right of collective bargaining.

The fact that Negroes are even thinking of such action must serve as real food for thought for the ranks of the AFL unions. As long as the AFL permits such things to go on, the union movement will never be safe. While workers, to protect themselves as well as their colored brothers, must open the gates of the labor unions to them.

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