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The Papers of Clarence Mitchell Jr.

and of the NAACP Washington Bureau 1942 - 1978

 

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Synopses

Lion in the Lobby
Volumes I&II
Volume III
Volume IV
Volume V


Tables of Contents

Volumes I&II
Volume III
Volume IV
Volume V
 

Documents

Sample Documents I
Sample Documents II
Sample Documents III
Sample Docs III Cont..

Sample Documents IV

Sample Documents V

 
Background

Mitchell A Profile
Project Scope
Mitchell's Reports


 


Prof. Denton L. Watson

About Prof. Watson
About Us
Contact Us
Blog


 


Father of the Modern Civil Rights Movement


A.  Philip Randolph and Grant Reynolds testifying 1948 against segregation in the military.
 

.  . . Randolph on January 15, 1941, elevated the struggle against discrimination in the national defense industry and against segregation in the armed services to a new, unprecedented level with the following press statement:

. . . only power can effect the enforcement and adoption of a given policy, however meritorious it may be. The virtue and rightness of a cause are not alone the condition and cause of its acceptance. Power and pressure are at the foundation of the march of social justice and reform . . . power and pressure do not reside in the few, and intelligentsia, they lie in and flow from the masses. Power does not even rest with the masses as such. Power is the active principle of only the organized masses, the masses united for a definite purpose. Hence, Negro America must bring its power and pressure to bear upon the agencies and representatives of the Federal Government to exact their rights in National Defense employment and the armed forces of the country. . . I suggest that TEN THOUSAND Negroes march on Washington, D.C. . . . with the slogan: WE LOYAL NEGRO AMERICAN CITIZENS DEMAN D THE RIGHT TO WORK AND FIGHT FOR OUR COUNTRY. . . . we seek the right to play our part in advancing the cause of national defense and national unity. But certainly there can be no national unity where one tenth of the population are denied their basis rights as American citizens. . . . One thing is certain and that is if Negroes are going to get anything out of this national defense, which will cost the nation 30 to 40 billions of dollars that we Negroes must help pay in taxes as property owners and workers and consumers, WE MUST FIGHT FOR IT AND FIGHT FOR IT WITH GLOVES OFF.

See Introduction to The Papers of Clarence Mitchell Jr., Volume III


A. Philip Randolph leads protest against a Jim Crow Army outside the Democratic National Committee.                               

So, should Congress pass a Jim Crow draft, there could be “a mass disobedience movement along the lines of the magnificent struggles of the people of India against British imperialism.” This was the same mood of rebellion Thurgood Marshall, NAACP special counsel, had warned about in 1940, only now it was explosive. Randolph added that: “In resorting to the principles and direct-action techniques of Gandhi, whose death was publicly mourned by many members of Congress and President Truman, Negroes will be serving a higher law than any passed by a National Legislature in an era [in] which racism spells our doom.”

Randolph continued:

From coast to coast in my travels I shall call upon all Negro veterans to join this civil disobedience movement and to recruit their younger brothers in an organized refusal to register and be drafted.

Many veterans, bitter over Army Jim Crow, have indicated that they will act spontaneously in this fashion, regardless of any organized movement. “Never again,” they say with finality.

I shall appeal to the thousands of white youth in schools and colleges who are today vigorously shedding the prejudices of their parents and professors. I shall urge them to demonstrate their solidarity with Negro youth by ignoring the entire registration and induction machinery.

And finally I shall appeal to Negro parents to lend their moral support to their sons, to stand behind them as they march with heads high to Federal prisons as a telling demonstration to the world that Negroes have reached the limit of human endurance, that, in the words of the spiritual, we will be buried in our graves before we will be slaves.

Randolph explained that he had adopted this confrontational strategy as a desperate last resort because of the gross hypocrisy of the committee’s chairman and of his party, the Republican:

Your party, the party of Lincoln, solemnly pledged in its 1944 platform a full-fledged congressional investigation of injustices to Negro soldiers. Instead of that long overdue probe, the Senate Armed Services Committee on this very day is finally hearing testimony from two or three Negro veterans for a period of 20 minutes each. The House Armed Services Committee and Chairman [Walter C.] Andrews went one step further and arrogantly refused to hear any at all.

Since we cannot obtain an adequate Congressional forum for our grievances, we have no other recourse but to tell our story to the peoples of the world by organized direct action. I do not believe that even a wartime censorship wall could be high enough to conceal news of a civil disobedience program.

If we cannot win your support for your own party commitments, if we cannot ring a bell in you by appealing to human decency, we shall command your respect and the respect of the world by our united refusal to cooperate with tyrannical injustice.

Since the military with their southern biases, intend to take over America and institute total encampment of the populace along Jim Crow lines, Negroes will resist with the power of nonviolence, with the weapons of moral principles, with the good-will- weapons of the spirit; yes, with the weapons that brought freedom to India.

I feel morally obligated to disturb and keep disturbed the conscience of Jim Crow America.

To the counsel of Senator Wayne Morse, Republican of Oregon, that Randolph give “very serious thought to the legal aspects of such a movement,” because there could be “indictments for treason and very serious repercussions,” Randolph responded:

      I would anticipate Nation-wide terrorism against Negroes who refuse to participate in the armed forces, but I believe that that is the price we have to pay for democracy that we want. In other words, if there are sacrifices and sufferings, terrorism, concentration camps, whatever they may be, if that is the only way by which Negroes can get their democratic rights, I unhesitatingly say that we have to face it.

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I would contend that we are serving a higher law than that law with its legal technicalities, which would include the groups which fights for democracy even in the face of a crisis you would portray, I would contend that they are serving a higher law than that law.

            There were no television cameras then to transmit the bombshell moment to the nation, but The New York Times gave the confrontation page one treatment, Newsweek magazine gave it a two-page spread, other publications like PM magazine gave it featured coverage, and the black press, from coast to coast, was in a tizzy.

                        See headnote on Ending Segregation in the Armed Services,

The Papers of Clarence Mitchell Jr. Volume III

 



President Johnson and 101st Senator

 

Video Taped Interviews

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NAACP Testimonies

1916 - 1949
1950 - 1954
1955 - 1957
1958 - 1960

 

 

"I suggest that Ten Thousand Negroes march on Washington, D.C. with the slogan ..." A. Philip Randolph, Father of the modern civil rights movement

Randolph's Page

    Randolph with Eleanor Roosevelt

 
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