The Papers of Clarence Mitchell Jr.

and of the NAACP Washington Bureau 1942 - 1978





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


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

Sample Documents IV

Sample Documents V


Mitchell A Profile
Project Scope
Mitchell's Reports


Prof. Denton L. Watson

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Weekly Report

Mr. Will Maslow                                                                                            January 23, 1945

Director of Field Operations

Clarence M. Mitchell

Associate Director of Field Operations

Weekly Report for the Week Ending Saturday, January 20, 1945


            During the past week I have had the pleasure of visiting the Atlanta office and feel very optimistic about the way its work is going. I am preparing a detailed report on my opinions of the office and matters which constitute problems.[1] However, briefly, I wish to say that the following matters struck me as most important:

            The WMC is cooperating to some extent with our office. Conditions are not still ideal but infinitely better than they are in Regions IV and X at this time. Mr. Lasseter, the Regional Director of the War Manpower Commission, has sent out a very pointed statement to local USES offices which is helpful in getting them to follow the requirements of our operating agreement. It is encouraging also to note the number of 510’s which are coming in. These are not always properly made out but there is an effort to do what is required and this is progress.[2]

            While in Atlanta I conferred with a representative of the Bell Aircraft Corporation. I am convinced that if specific requests we made are not accomplished within the coming week, this case should be sent to the DFO and we should recommend that it be the subject of a hearing. Because the plant is Government owned and privately operated, it will be necessary to submit the case to the War Department before a hearing. This case illustrates the serious problems which confront Region VII. During the course of their negotiations they have made considerable progress and some of the more important aspects of the situation have been remedied. However, the remedy has not been sufficient so they are unable to close the case at this point.[3]

            The region also requested that I arrange a conference with the Maritime Commission on the Southeastern Shipbuilding Company. I have done this and hope that some satisfactory handling will result.


            The following new cases have been received by me during the past week

1.      Southern Bell Telephone & Telegraph Company, 10-BR-344.

2.      U. S. Customs Service, 10-GR-384.

3.      Boilermakers Union, Local 104, 12-UR-499.

The following FDR’s have been reviewed and acted upon by me:

Region XII      -           4                                  Region VI       -           5

cc:        Mr. Johnson

            Mr. Jones
            Mr. Davidson

            Mr. Davis

MS: copy, FEPC RG 228 (Entry 40 PI-147), Office Files of Clarence Mitchell, Will Maslow folder, DNA. 

[1] See Mitchell to Maslow, memorandum, 1/23/45, “Case Load of Region VII.”

[2] On Lasseter’s instructions to state directors and their responses, see Mitchell, memorandum, 12/6/44, and notes.

[3] See head notes on the Aircraft Industry and on FEPC Relationships with Federal Agencies.



Memorandum on Case Load of Region VII


Mr. Will Maslow                                                                                             January 23, 1945

Director of Field Operations

Clarence M. Mitchell

Associate Director of Field Operations

Case Load of Region VII

            When I visited the Atlanta Office I intended to review all of the current cases there.[1] However, because of the numerous matters before us I could only review the most important cases. Complaints against the Bell Aircraft Corporation in Marietta, Georgia, involve failure to hire skilled Negro workers and failure to employ Negroes as trainees. The company operates a training course for Negroes, which was established as a result of FEPC efforts, but four courses are offered for whites while only one is offered for Negroes. The Negro course is not full at this time because the company employs colored individuals on a segregated basis and the section for them is supposedly filled.[2] The Reynolds Metal Corporation at Macon, Georgia, is charged with failure to employ Negro trainees on a paid basis. The Regional office is currently working for the establishment of a training program and reports that 116 Negroes are available for instruction. I had one meeting with officials of Bell Aircraft on pending cases and I was already familiar with the details of complaints against the Reynolds Metal Corporation. These two companies, and certain shipbuilding companies mentioned in this memorandum, are the most important docketed cases in Region VII.[3]

            Our discussions show that there will be many new training cases in the near future because the regional office had not engaged in a consistent effort to correct previous discrimination. This is no criticism because the office has had its hands full on many other matters.

            The following represents cases on which the Regional Director and I are in agreement. These are not all of the region’s cases, but they are important.[4]


1.          Tampa Shipbuilding Company, 7-BR-315, 317, 318, and 319; also 7-GR-321 and 7-UR-314, against the USES and Boilermakers Union respectively.

Mr. Brin is to visit the company and the union concerning the specific complaints, which allege that Negroes are not employed in trades under the jurisdiction of the Boilermakers Union. An RFA is to be prepared on these cases as soon as Mr. Brin reports that his visit to the parties charged have produced no favorable results. It is expected that these cases with the possible exception of that against the USES will be ready for hearing by the Committee.[5]

2.          J.A. Jones Construction Company (Wainwright Yard) Panama City, Florida, 7-BR-506. In this company, Negroes were employed as riveters but were later chased out of the yard by white workers. The company states that it is willing to employ Negroes in skilled capacities but is prevented by doing so by the Boilermakers Union. Dr. Dodge is to docket a case against the union and prepare an RFA if no progress is made. This case is also at the point where a hearing seems necessary.

3.          The Mingledorf Shipbuilding Company, 7-BR-493, Savannah, Georgia. This yard, which has a Navy contract, refuses to hire Negroes at maximum skills. There is also a case docketed against the Boilermakers Union (7-UR-484) charging that it interferes with the employment of Negro workers. Immediately after I left Atlanta, the Navy Department sent a representative [Captain George M. Keller] in to discuss this case with Mr. George McKay. Dr. Dodge is optimistic about the union’s attitude but unless the assistance of the Navy Department results in progress, the case will be referred to Washington for a possible hearing.[6]

4.          Savannah U.S. Employment Service, 7-GR-421. The region believes that this office of the USES conspired with the Southeastern Company in Savannah (7-BR-58) to prevent the hiring of Negroes in skilled capacities. The regional office requested that I arrange a meeting with the Maritime Commission on this case in Savannah. I have done this and unless there are favorable results from this meeting, the case will be referred to the Central office with the recommendation that a hearing be held against the company and the USES


1.      Tennessee Eastman Corporation, Knoxville, Tennessee, 7-BR-432 through 476. The basic issue in these cases is the refusal of the party charged to employ Negro women at their maximum skills. Trainees are also refused employment although whites are being used extensively. In one instance, a Negro woman was employed as a secretary but was removed from her job as a result of pressure from white employees. This is a secret military project and the regional office has encountered considerable difficulty in getting any information on the hiring policies and the current employment figures. Mr. Hope has been in touch with Lt. Flaherty who is a Naval officer but represents the Army in labor matters. The party charged argues that integration of Negro employees is in process but details were not given because of the alleged secrecy of the project. I suggested that approximately ten additional days be given for the furnishing of necessary information and if it is not received, the cases should be sent to the DFO.[7]

2.      There is a case against the Post Office, 7-GR-101. After discussing this matter, I suggested that it be referred to the DFO for action in Washington.

3.      Fulton Sylphon Company, 7-BR-84. This is a 1943 case charging discriminatory dismissal. After a review of the file, it appears that the matter should be sent to Washington for further study. In my opinion, it will be necessary to dismiss this case as other, but before doing so, I wanted to carefully review the file.[8]

4.      Buckeye Cotton Oil Company, Memphis, Tennessee, 7-BR-10. I have suggested that after one more contact with the party charged in this case, the matter be referred to the DFO for further action.

5.      Swift Manufacturing Company, 7-BR-65, 75, 155, and 157. This file, because of its age and numerous denials by the party charged, is a considerable problem in Region VII. I have recommended that it be sent to the DFO for further study and recommendation.


1.        Bechtel, McCone & Parsons Aviation Corporation, Birmingham, Alabama, 7-BR-489. In this case a training program for Negroes seeking employment at Bechtel, McCone & Parsons was discontinued. Mr. McKay reports that the WMC is willing to cooperate with him in getting it reopened.

2.        Fisher Aircraft, Memphis, Tennessee, 7-BR-287 – 289 and 472. In this case the regional office has done an excellent job of cooperating with a local of the UAW, which has a contract with the plant. Recent wage adjustments by the War Labor Board should facilitate the settlement of these cases and if so, the region will have some excellent satisfactory adjustments to its credit. Mr. Hope is going to Memphis on these and other matters in the near future.[9]

3.        Aluminum Company of America at Alcoa, Tennessee, 7-BR-474, 475. These complaints involve wage discrimination and other problems of upgrading. No contact has been made with the party charged as yet because of the difficulty of reaching the plant.

4.        Ferguson and J.A. Jones Construction Company, 7-BR-177 and 7-BR-483. These construction companies are in Tennessee. It appears that the region obtained a satisfactory adjustment of complaints charging refusal to hire Negroes as carpenters. The adjustment must be verified by a letter which the Regional Director hopes to receive. He has information from a Mr. Reed, who initiated the complaint, that fifty colored carpenters have been placed on the job. Mr. Reed did not indicate clearly which job is now open to colored carpenters and for that reason, an FDR has not been written. I suggested that in construction cases, the region should make use of the telegrams and long distance phone contacts since the work is of short duration and unless there is speedy action it will be over before a contact is made

5.        A. T. & T., 7-BC-522. This is a complaint of a Jehovah’s Witness against the American Telegraph and Telephone Company in Atlanta. It appears that the individual has a good case and he is seeking reinstatement to his job at the telephone company. Mr. Hope and Dr. Dodge have been working on this problem and it may be that some adjustment can be expected in the near future.[10]

6.        Merrill-Stevens Drydock Company, Jacksonville, Florida, 7-BR-230, 228, 229, 231, and 471. This is a CIO yard and the complaints have been filed with the Committee by the Union. However, there is one 510 report submitted by the USES charging that the company refused to employ a Negro as a welder. A discussion on these cases showed that many of the allegations are more instances of discrimination because of union membership if they have merit at all. For example, one of the complainants charges that two crews of workers (both Negroes) receive different wages for doing the same work. The union alleges that the higher paid crew is made up of “company pets” while the latter is made up of union men. We have taken these cases up with the company and explanations of each have been submitted. Dr. Dodge will be in Jacksonville next week and I suggested that he have a meeting with the complainants and the union to discuss these matters further. In my opinion, a discussion should result in a dismissal on merits in most of these cases.

7.        Seaboard Airline, 7-BR-434, 171. This is a complaint against a railroad, which is being processed at the regional level because it was not a matter referred to the President by the Committee. The same would apply to cases 7-BR-165, against the Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis Railroad; 7-BR-165, against Missouri Pacific; and 7-BR-196 against the ABC Railroad.[11]

8.        The International Union of Operating Engineers, 7-UR-76. This is a case in which the union is charged with failure to permit Negroes to work on a construction project. The construction project is closed and the complaints are no longer available. The union denies that it discriminated against them. Under the circumstances, I have suggested that the case be closed as other because it is not clear that the union has a non-discrimination policy although it states that it does.

9.        Williams Construction Company, 7-BR-184, 195. These are old cases which involve a construction project now closed. It will be necessary to dismiss them as other and I have so recommended.

10.    Kennedy Central Hospital, Memphis, Tennessee, 7-CR-485 – 7. In this case Negro employees charge that they were dismissed when they sought increases in wages and the regional office believes that there is an over-all pattern of wage discrimination, which results in the freezing of all Negro workers at a wage considerably below that of white employees. Mr. Hope is to get additional information from the Civil Service Commission on the job classification at my suggestion. He will also make a return visit to the party charged when he is next in Memphis. These cases appear somewhat difficult and may require considerable time before they are closed.


1.      United States Employment Service, 7-CR-436, Meridian, Miss. In this case the local office of the USES was charged with failure to submit 510 reports and also it was alleged that the office did not make proper referral of Negro workers. After discussing this with Dr. Dodge, I believe that it should be dismissed as a satisfactory adjustment and have so recommend to him. The local office now submits 510’s and the manager has persuaded a textile employer to use Negro women. This action came after a forthright letter from Mr. Lasseter, Regional Director of WMC. He stated that if the USES did not comply with the provisions of the agreement between WMC and FEPC, he could offer no safeguard against a possible hearing by FEPC.

2.      Birmingham, U.S. Employment Service, Alabama, 7-CR-285. This case involves failure of the USES to live up to the terms of the operating agreement. Mr. McKay is to take a tour of the main USES office with the State Director at which time he will visit the Birmingham office on this complaint.

3.      Birmingham, U.S. Employment Service, Alabama, 7-CR-317. In this case a complainant alleges that she was refused referral to a job for which she was qualified. After discussing the file with Dr. Dodge, I have reached the conclusion that it should be dismissed on merits. The USES wrote a letter indicating that even though the complaint had made an improper charge, it would be very glad to refer her to a job for which she is qualified if she will register. She has not done so at this time.

4.      Chattanooga, U.S. Employment Service, Tennessee, 7-CR-400. In this case the complainant alleged that she could not get war work through USES. I have recommended that it be dismissed for insufficient evidence after reviewing the file.

5.      Chattanooga, U.S. Employment Service, Tennessee, 7-CR-403. In this case the State Director of the Employment Service has refused to comply with a request of Mr. Lasseter that FEPC-WMC operating agreement be made effective in the local USES. It appears that this matter will be a showdown between the regional office of WMC and the State Office. So far, it appears that Mr. Lasseter has done his part in this matter.

6.      Knoxville, U.S. Employment Service, Tennessee, 7-CR-227. In this case, the USES was advertising in a discriminatory manner. Mr. McKay had a telephone conversation with the manager of the office and was told that the policy has been changed. It appears that this is a satisfactory adjustment and I have recommended a check of newspapers by the regional office to determine whether the practice has actually been changed. If so, the case will be closed as satisfactorily adjusted.

7.      7-GA-202. This is a case against the Atlanta USES which appears to have the necessary elements for a satisfactory adjustment. However, because it is a matter of alienage, I have suggested that it be referred to the DFO for consideration and disposition.

8.      7-GR-285. This is a complaint against the Birmingham U.S. Employment Office charging discriminatory advertising. A review of the file shows that it is ready for closing as satisfactory adjustment.

9.      7-GR-201 is against the Atlanta Office of the USES charging failure to refer Negroes to the Atlantic Steel Company. A review of the file and discussion with the Regional Director shows that this case is ready for satisfactory adjustment and I have recommended that it be closed on those grounds.

10.  Atlanta U.S. Employment Service, 7-CR-218. In this case the USES is charged with failure to follow the WMC-FEPC operating agreement. Discussion with the Regional Director and a review of the files shows that corrective steps have been taken and the case can be closed as satisfactorily adjusted.[12]

11.  Pensacola U.S. Employment Service, Florida, 7-GR-426. On the basis of information revealed by a visit from Dr. Dodge and other material in the file, this case now can be closed as satisfactorily adjusted. It alleged that the USES was not following the FEPC-WMC agreement.

12.  Jacksonville, Florida, U.S. Employment Service, 7-GR-441. In this case, the USES failed to submit a 510 report on the St. Johns Shipbuilding Company. A review of the file shows that it can now be closed as satisfactorily adjusted.

13.  Jacksonville, Florida, U.S. Employment Service, 7-GR-320. This was a case of discriminatory advertising on the part of the USES. The file and reports from Dr. Dodge shows that the WMC has taken corrective steps in this matter and the case can be closed as satisfactorily adjusted.

14.  Nashville, U.S. Employment Service, 7-GR-404. In this case the WMC is charged with failing to live up to the terms of our operating agreement. Mr. Hope is to make a visit to the party charged when he is next in Nashville.

15.  Miami, Florida, U.S. Employment Service, 7-GR-322. This office is now submitting 510’s to FEPC. However, there are certain aspects of the case that will require further study and I have suggested that it be referred to me in Washington for further action.

16.  Brunswick U.S. Employment Service, 7-GR-420. Charges against this office of the USES have resulted in an investigation by FEPC and now appears ready for satisfactory adjustment.

*A separate report is made on Bell Aircraft, Marietta, Georgia

MS: copy, FEPC RG 228, Box 458, Office Files of Clarence Mitchell, DNA.

[1] Mitchell’s review of cases in Region VIIwas part of his continuing effort to achieve the greatest efficiency in the processing of complaints. Directly related to this effort was a report of 9/22/44 to Maslow from Eugene Davidson in which the assistant director of field operations provided information on the progress that was being made on DFO cases based on the agreement that he and Mitchell had made. FEPC RG 228, Office Files of Clarence Mitchell, box 458, DNA. Among others, see 5/1/7, 8/18/, 10/12/44 for earlier reassignments and updates on DFO cases involving Mitchell.

[2] See Weaver, Negro Labor, 111-3, 125, 127; and head notes on the Aircraft Industry.

[3] See weekly report of 1/23/44.

[4] No separate memorandum on Bell Aviation was found, but see weekly report of 1/23/45. Files on Bell Aviation and most of the other cases referred to in this memorandum were in FR81, Region VII. Active Cases (A-Z).

[5] For background on the union issues at these shipyards, see the head notes on the FEPC and Unions, and on the Shipbuilding Industry. On the Tampa Shipbuilding case, on which, like the other cases discussed below, ultimately no hearing was ever held, see texts at 3/16/43, 4/24/44, 1/2, 2/5/45. Leonard Brin’s reports on his field investigations as a temporary field examiner in Florida in late 1944 are filed in HqR80, Region VII, Field Reports, and with the files of the various Florida shipbuilding cases on FR81.

[6] On Mingledorff Shipbuilding, see texts of 2/14, 2/20, 2/26, 3/13, and 5/21/45; and related texts in Mingledorff Shipyard folder of HqR81, Region VII, Active Cases (A-Z).

[7] Tennessee Eastman Corporation held a contract with the top secret Manhattan Project, which was developing the atomic bomb. It had requested 2,300 trainees and 300 clerical workers from USES but refused to consider blacks for these positions. Following negotiations with Witherspoon Dodge and John Hope II, the company claimed it did employ blacks at higher positions than that of common laborer and stated, “It is our policy to employ Negroes in all capacities which are consonant with the practices and customs of the general area. A careful review of our use of Negroes convinces us that we have given full effect to such a policy.” Region VII referred the case to the Division of Field Operations because it was not able to obtain access to the plant or to obtain information on black employment there on which to evaluate the discrimination complaints it received. Mitchell attached so much importance to the postwar significance of the case that it was one of those he requested Dodge to keep open when the regional office closed at the end of 1945. On this case, see texts at 2/6, 6/5/45; Mitchell to Col. Ralph Gow, 5/7/45, and other related texts in Tennessee Eastman Corporation files in FR81, Region VII, Active Cases (A-Z). On another Manhattan Project contractor in Tennessee investigated by the FEPC, Clinton Engineering, see 5/21/45. For context, see discussion on the Atomic Industry in the introduction.

[8] This and other emphases are in original.

[9] On the significance of NWLB rulings against discriminatory wage structures, see the headnotes on Relationships with Federal Agencies and on Mining Industry.

[10] See the headnote on Creedal Discrimination.

[11] On the railroad cases referred to the president and by him to the Stacy Committee, see “Implementing the Order section of the introduction. The FEPC continued to handle other railroad complaints in the usual manner.

[12] See the section on the WMC and USES in the headnote on Relationships with Federal Agencies.


Weekly Report

Mr. Will Maslow                                                                                                         March 5, 1945

            Director of Field Operations

Clarence M. Mitchell

            Associate Director of Field Operations

Weekly Report for the Week Ending Saturday, March 3, 1945



            For a second time in two weeks I am listing the Macon Vocational Training Program under important events in this weekly report.[1] I do this because an entirely new series of events presented themselves this week showing the type of opposition we face in moving forward in Region VII. After the War Manpower Commission, the Navy, and our office had ironed out the question of getting Negroes employed at the company, the local school board finally gave in and agreed to assist in the establishing of a course. This week I discovered in checking with the War Production Board, at the request of the region, that certain data needed for the granting of a priority had been sloppily and improperly presented by the local representatives either in the training field (non-Federal employees) or the War Production Board in Atlanta. This presentation resulted in the cancellation of a priority request for lathes and drill presses and the granting of a lower priority for sewing machines. I am glad to report that we were able to straighten out these kinks with the assistance of a very able and energetic person in the War Manpower Commission, Mrs. Marie Smoot, Administrative Analyst. The Textile Division of the War Production Board in Washington was also cooperative. It now appears that the training will get underway and Region VII will deserve considerable credit for its persistent work on this case.

I treat this at some length because the work done by the regional office on cases of this kind shows up on a statistical report as one case. However, the one case in this instance was many times more difficult and time consuming than several dozen other cases in a more favorable area. For the sake of continuity as soon as I am informed that the Negro individuals are actually in the classes, I will include that information in a future weekly report.[2]

            At the risk of seeming sentimental on this point, I wish to include the thought that it is cases of this kind which translate telephone calls, memoranda, and conferences into the tangible result of individuals on jobs who previously had no chance of getting them because of race.


            At my request the U. S. Office of Education this week submitted a report on the number of training courses offered for the Consolidated Vultee Corporation in Fort Worth, Texas. I have submitted these to the Legal Division as a supplement to the file. Also, I wired the Legal Division’s position on the proposed plan for using Negroes to Mr. Ellinger.[3]


            This week I took action on a new case from North Carolina involving the Machinists Union. Although the basic issue of exclusion practiced by the Machinists Union is as yet unresolved, it occurred to me that this would be an important opportunity to bring one of the pending cases up-to-date. It also affords an opportunity to test out certain statements made by Mr. Harvey Brown, President of the Machinists, in a conference with Messrs. Hook and Evans of Region IV.[4]


            I have treated at some length the conference with Mr. Robert Goodwin, Executive Director of the War Manpower Commission in a separate memorandum.[5]


            Region VII informed me this week that the Aluminum Company of America was expected to employ one thousand soldiers released from the Air Corps for production. I have taken this matter up with the War Department since we have a pending case against this company. The region also reports that ALCOA does not properly utilize Negro labor.[6]


            A new report from the Post Office Department came in this week on the Houston Post Office in Houston, Texas. Although the report indicates that Negro women are now being employed and apparently resolved one of the issues in the case, the other items were treated in a very negative fashion and it will be necessary to make a careful analysis of the file before taking further action.[7]




            The following cases were received from the regions:


1.      Watson Bros. Transfer Company, 9-BR-414.


2.      International Association of Machinists, 4-UR-502 (2/14/45).


3.      Wright Automatic Machinery Company, 4-BR-510 (2/14/45).


The following FDR’s were received and acted upon by me during the past week:


Region VI       -           4                                              Region VIII    -           1


Region VII      -           1                                              Region XII      -           11


cc:        Mr. Davidson

            Mr. Davis

            Mr. Johnson

            Mr. Jones


MS: copy, FEPC RG228, Office Files of Clarence Mitchell, DNA.


[1] See report of 2/26/45; and, for other efforts to provide training opportunities in Macon, Georgia, see 12/4, 12/11, 12/18, 12/26, 12/29/44.  


[2] No such information has been found.


[3] See headnote on the Aircraft Industry. For the Legal Division’s position on the Vultee plan, see .Mitchell’s teletype to W. Don Ellinger, teletype 2/28/45, which states the position as follows:

Quote.  Understand company’s plan is to be as follows: Negroes are to be transferred on segregated basis to certain occupations in drop hammer and foundry departments, whites now in those occupations to be transferred to other departments and whiles in other occupations in drop hammer and founry departments to remin athere; Negroes so transferred are to be trained for upgrading in drop hammer and foundry departments to occupations temporarily retained by whites; additional Negroes are to be recruited to replace those transferred; and plan is to be extended to other departments if successful.

Quote. Assume that upgrading of Negroes within drop hammer and foundry departments is contemplated only on a segregated basis, i.e., when enough Negroes qualify to take over other occupations, with ultimate result of departmental rather than occupational segregation. Assume that recruitment to replaced Negroes transferred is to be on segregated basis also, thereby maintaining segregation at the lower job levels. Effort therefore is simply an extension of the system of  department segregation.  Extension of such a system is not in any sense a step toward compliance because it cannot possibly lead to equal job opportunity.

Quote.  Only possible basis on which such a plan could be considered would be if upgrading within drop hammer and foundry departments were to be accomplished as Negroes qualified individually and if recruitment for replacement purposes were non-discriminatory, even though few if any whites would be available for such recruitment.  With these modifications plan might be acceptable as a step toward compliance, provided that we reserved the right to process individual cases of discrimination and that the plan covered most of our outstanding complaints. Unquote.

                Mitchell’s 8/28/45 telegram confirmed the information Ellinger had provided the associate director in a memorandum on 2/9/45/ HqR3, Office Files of Geroge M. Johnson. Clarence Mitchell.


[4] See the section on the International Association of Machinists in the headonte on the FEPC and Unions.


[5] See Mitchell, memorandum, 2/28/45.


[6] Mitchell informed Truman K. Gibson, civilian aide to the secretary of War, that the FEPC’s regional office had forwarded a front-page story in the Knoxville News-Centinel of 2/11/45 that reported the Army’s intention to send 1,000 men to ALCOA. Given ALCOA’s practice of racial discrimination, Mitchell wanted to know whether the War Department had examined the firm’s hiring policies before agreeing to use military personnel to ease its labor shortages. Mitchell told Gibson that the Committees regional staff would be available to work with the War Department to obtain a “greater utilization of Negro labor.” The War Department subsequently responded that black laborers had not in fact been available in the area when the army personnel were sent in. Mitchell to Gibson, 2/27/45, HqR67, Central Files, Reports, U. S. Government, War Department. For FEPC complaints regarding ALCOA, see also 5/1, 7/31, 9/14/43, 5/24/44.


[7] See the section on the Post Office Department in the headnote on Relationships with Federal Agencies.






By Clarence E. Mitchell, NAACP Labor Secretary


[June 28, 1946]


On May 3, 1946, the Fair Employment Practices Committee, without funds to pay debts properly and lawfully incurred, hastily closed its doors. The Congress had just refused to appropriate the small sum of $30,000 with which the agency intended to pay annual leave due its employees and wind up its work by June 30. In this fashion there ended the five troubled years of FEPC’s fighting existence.

This agency of Government had been the victim of the most cynical political short-changing ever since it was established by President Roosevelt on June 25, 1941. Always its operations were curtailed by a lack of funds. At a time when the Nation was spending millions of dollars to win the war and save democracy, there was ever present in the Bureau of the Budget and Congress the threat to cut its slim monies. More frequently than not, its accomplishments were made in spite of its supposed supporters rather than because of them. The end of the Committee really began in July, 1945, when by parliamentary brigandage in the United States Senate its modest request for $500,000 was cut to $250,000. This was a so-called compromise engineered by Senator McKellar of Tennessee after Eastland of Mississippi and some of his colleagues had spent several days transforming the upper branch of the national legislature into something between a burlesque show and Georgia police court.




The FEPC’s program was responsible for the rise in non-white employment in war industries from 3 per cent to 8 per cent. Through the work of its field representatives thousands of colored war workers were admitted to training courses which qualified them for better paying jobs. Because of the FEPC, colored men today are today operating street cars in Los Angeles and Philadelphia. It was also this agency, in cooperation with other groups, which brought about the hiring of colored operators in the telephone companies of New York and New Jersey. A graphic sample at its success was shown in a checkup after its hearings in Birmingham, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York. Thirty-one companies were cited at these hearings employed 4,000 non-white workers. A little over a year later these same companies employed a total of 23,000 non-whites.

Many of its successes were accomplished without hearings. Sometimes by the simple action at writing a letter or making a visit the representatives of the agency could correct a discriminatory practice. At other times the negotiations required months before a settlement could be reached. At the peak of its activity FEPC had handled 12,000 cases and settled satisfactorily more than a third of them. It was receiving approximately 300 new cases each month.

Although the high priest of falsehood, Senator Bilbo, has accused FEPC of stirring up trouble, most of its settlements were accomplished peacefully. During the period between July, 1943 and December, 1944, less than 2 per cent of all strikes in the country were due to racial issues. More than half of these were started by colored workers themselves as protests against discriminatory employment policies.

The successes would have been more numerous, if the agency had enjoyed the support of the important war agencies such as the War Department,[1] the War Production Board, and the War Manpower Commission. All too frequently these agencies crippled the action of FEPC.




For example, when FEPC sought the assistance of the War Department in an effort to gain employment for colored women at the General Cable Company in St. Louis, Mo., it was rebuffed by Truman K. Gibson, Jr., then civilian aide to the Secretary of War. However, when the president of the company informed the War Department that he intended to follow the requirements of the executive order under which the FEPC operated, high ranking officials of the department came to FEPC’s offices in an effort to stop the action. While the conference was under way in Washington a telephone call to St. Louis revealed that the company had already begun the successful integration of colored women a few hours before.

Again the War Department blocked a joint FEPC-WMC effort to end discrimination in the hiring practices of the Western Cartridge Company in East Alton, III. The management of this plant contended that it had to recruit workers on a national scale because of severe manpower shortages but could not use Negroes since they were barred from the town by custom. Dr. William H. Spencer, former dean of the Business School of the University of Chicago, who was regional director of the W.M.C. and Elmer W. Henderson, the FEPC director in Chicago, agreed that the company should be denied workers unless it accepted them in a non-discriminatory basis. This plan was vigorously opposed by the War Department and finally vetoed in Washington.

In the South the War Department [Manpower] Commission constantly undermined the Committee’s work by continuing services to employers who submitted discriminatory orders. This was true especially in the case of large employers like the Bell Aircraft Company of Marietta, Georgia and the Consolidated Vultee Company of Fort Worth, Texas. The New Orleans office of W.M.C. refused to accept a non-discriminatory order from the Sefton Fibre Can Company after the plant submitted one in keeping with an FEPC request.

There were in Government a handful of right thinking people like Mrs. Anna Rosenberg, the New York WMC director, James P. Mitchell, director of the industrial personnel division of the Army Service Forces, and others. It was Mrs. Rosenberg who first dramatized the discriminatory practices of the Boilermakers Union of the West Coast when she refused to permit the recruiting of New Yorkers for work in Oregon shipyards on a discriminatory basis. Mr. Mitchell was the author of a War Department memorandum requiring contractors to delete racial specifications from application forms. Some officials of the War Shipping administration were attacked by the Smith Committee in Congress for following a policy of no discrimination in the referral of seamen to merchant vessels.

But mainly it was the courage of the Committee and its staff which gained such successes as were achieved. I wish to pay a tribute to these Jews, Negroes, Latin Americans, southern whites, Americans of Japanese ancestry and persons of various faiths who worked together for the common goal of ending industrial discrimination. The majority of them were people from fields in which they had already attained national recognition and to which they have since returned.

Now the minorities of the country face a crisis. Many firms are returning to their old discriminatory practices. Discriminatory orders submitted to the employment offices are on the increase. The newspapers are again running ads for “White Christians Only.”

In the construction industry it is estimated that two million workers will be employed by September. Yet there is no provision in the NHA program to insure the full use of colored carpenters, painters, plasterers, electricians and plumbers. We are now back where we were at the beginning of the defense program when it was the custom in Durham, North Carolina, Ravenna, Ohio, and Pine Bluff, Arkansas to employ colored laborers and refuse work to skilled craftsmen solely because of race. We are again seeing a crazy-quilt pattern of employment which will send recruiting agents scurrying around the country looking for skilled workers but ignoring the Mexicans, the Negroes and the Jews at home. Unless we exert great pressure on the National Housing Agency, the Federal Housing Authority and the United States Employment Service minority workers will get no consideration.

Because of the strong non-discrimination policies of the United Automobile Workers and the United Packing House Workers, it can be expected that in these two industries there is a fighting chance to hold the war time gains. This is also true of the steel industry, although there are many jobs from which Negroes are still barred because of race.

There remains unsolved the problems of discrimination against minority workers in the transit industry, the telephone companies, the railways and the textile industry.




Non-whites constitute approximately 6 percent of the workers in the transit industry. It is true that they operate buses and street cars in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Chicago and Detroit. In other big cities like Baltimore, St. Louis, Indianapolis, and Washington, jim crow employment practices are still rampant. The stubborn opposition of the Capital Transit Company’s officials in Washington has spread like a cancer to other cities. When President Truman forbade FEPC to issue directives against this company he strengthened the opposition in the industry and scared off forward looking officials who possibly would have changed their hiring practices, if the Government had employed colored platform men when it operated the Capital Transit Company.

Here as a digression I wish to say that the Capital Transit case illustrates how a few misguided planners and high strategists muffed the ball. These people thought that we could have a permanent FEPC only if we did not create any trouble by insisting that Negroes be hired as platform men. I do not know who presented this rubber check in the first instance, but it is now clear that neither in the White House nor in Congress was there a real intention to establish a strong permanent FEPC if it could possibly be avoided. Everyone was waiting to see whether the minorities would get down to serious unified agitation for the legislation. Had it not been for the dramatic resignation of the Honorable Charles Houston from FEPC and the militant fighting of the National Council for a Permanent FEPC there never would have been a showdown as happened in the Senate. The agency would have been put to sleep with the issuance of some dehydrated reports. The lesson to be learned from this is that in the fight for economic justice minorities should never exchange immediate possibilities for real progress for mere promises of future action. Anyone who means to be fair will give both. The people must scrutinize closely those who profess to have liberal convictions to be sure that the spoken word will be followed by the concrete act.




To return to the industrial predicament in which we find ourselves, let us look at the railway industry. It employs over a million workers in normal times. The Supreme Court in the Steele and Tunstall cases has outlawed the practice of unions and employers putting into effect agreements which discriminate against Negro firemen. The FEPC has accomplished the upgrading of a few waiters to jobs as stewards and in some shops such as those of the Missouri Pacific we have obtained promotion of workers. There remains, however, the uncomfortable truth that colored men are still denied firemen’s jobs on northern roads, they are still given mainly laboring jobs in the shops and in most places they are excluded from jobs as flagmen, switchmen and baggagemen.

The textile industry, with nearly half a million workers engaged in the spinning and weaving of cotton is the seat of some of the worst discrimination in the country. Recently a southern firm published on slick paper what was called the “Story of Cotton.”  One photograph showed a colored man driving a mule hitched to a wagon load of cotton. Said the caption, “Neither is aware of the part he plays in this great industry.”  I cannot vouch for the truth of the statement because I have not talked with either subject of the picture. I do know, however, that in the textile industry as presently operated a mule has a better chance for full utilization of his skills than does a colored man or woman.

This is not because the jobs in the industry are so complicated. Studies have shown that 65 per cent of the workers in this industry can be trained to reach average productivity in less than six months. Rather the problem lies in the discriminatory practices which are so serious that even at the peak of manpower shortages during the war the companies obtained the release of soldiers from the army before they would make use of available colored workers. Three fourths of the spinning and weaving of cotton in the United States is done in the coastal states of the southeast. The largest concentration of wage earners and spindle capacity for the country as a whole is in North Carolina and the states next in importance are South Carolina and Georgia. There is a law in South Carolina which forbids the employment of Negroes and whites on the same jobs in the same rooms. The law specifically states that they may not use the same windows or stairways—except when the colored persons are scrubbing floors or serving in some other menial capacity.

The country is honey-combed with firms like the Crosley Corporation of this city (Cincinnati) which during the war employed nearly 5,000 workers but used less than a dozen Negroes and these only as janitors.




The Federal Government takes its place among the discriminators. Among the worst offenders are the General Accounting Office, the State Department and, of course, the Department of Justice. This last named agency still requires racial designation on application for employment forms. These departments are headed respectively by Lindsay Warren of North Carolina, James Byrnes of South Carolina and Tom Clark of Texas. But even if they were under the direction of a Henry Wallace or a Wendell Willkie they would continue to be as they are unless we strike at the roots of the evils which create these conditions. This injustisce springs from (1) the weakness of the Federal Civil Service Commission which can never find discrimination even though the party charged is ready to admit that he refused to appoint an individual because of race, creed or color, (2) the personal bias of small fry appointing officials who decide to keep their departments lily white, (3) the failure of heads of departments to back up the national policy against discrimination because all too frequently they do not believe in it themselves, and (4) the cowardly practice of some congressmen and senators serving on appropriation committees who cut the funds of agencies with liberal policies on the race question.

There remain in the Federal Government today only a few Negroes who have any chance of influencing policy. Mr. Hannegan and a few “fixers” try to play up insignificant appointments. However, a glance at the Congressional Directory and the Government Manual will show that the various bureaus are like Mr. Hannegan’s Post Office Department. That is, they have numerous assistants, dozens of deputies, scores of administrative assistants and other functionaries but all of these are white. The so-called black cabinet has long since become an almost invisible gray.




We also have a job to do in the November elections. It is simply this. Washington has numerous scrub water politicians. These are men without honorable motives, men who will plot and traffic with the enemies of human progress whenever it serves their personal advantage or their party’s gain. In the voting booth, you can pull the stopper and send them whirling down the drain.

Today thousands of workers have laid aside their tools in the ordnance plants. The song of the riveting gun is silent in many aircraft factories and the cranes in dozens of shipyards are motionless against the sky. From Kearny, N. J. to Mobile, Ala., there are thousands of colored men and women who for the first time in their lives drew a living wage when they worked in war plants. These people are jobless and without a real hope for work at their newly learned skills. But in the barber shops, in the churches, in the union meetings and on a hundred street corners there is expressed the resolve that never again will they work for starvation wages in the hotels, the kitchens and the cotton fields. In California, Oregon and Washington the immigrant workers who built the Boeing planes, launched the Kaiser Ships and performed a hundred new tasks under the generous California sun are there to stay. They will not return to the jim-crow, low wage, narrow minded environment of Arkansas, Texas and Louisiana.

These people are awake to the employment possibilities in the nation’s industry. They feel as never before that they are part of this democracy. They are determined to fight with every weapon at their command for full employment on jobs for which they are qualified.

There is now a great opportunity to move forward. This powerful network of branches that makes up the NAACP must help see that we have permanent state and national FEPC legislation and that it is effectively administered. The people of New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts have FEPC laws which make possible a frontal attack on discrimination in industry. But these laws will not be worth anything unless the people demand that they be administered fairly and forcefully. The Indiana and Wisconsin FEPC laws mean little and must be strengthened.


Expose Jim Crow Firms


Now is the time to give plenty of publicity to the industries in our local communities which discriminate in their hiring and upgrading policies. Persistently we must demand a square deal in employment.

Again we must join hands with organized labor and get non-discrimination clauses in contracts. And we must see that these clauses are enforced. Let us encourage and support those locals of discriminating unions, such as are within the machinists, which are at present trying to change the jim-crow policies of their internationals.

The accomplishment of full and fair employment in this country will not be easy. But difficult tasks have never stopped the NAACP. The same fighting heart and tenacity of purpose which have brought victory on so many other fronts will insure the attainment of industrial democracy for all.


After Mitchell left the FEPC, Walter White hired him as labor secretary working out of the NAACP Washington Bureau. This is the speech he gave at the 1946 NAACP National Convention in Cincinnati. It was published in the NAACP Bulletin, July 1946, 10-11. DLC.

[1] Mitchell’s displeasure with Gibson was shared by Leslie Perry, administrative assistant in the NAACP Washington Bureau, who in 5/16/45 memorandum to Walter White, NAACP executive secretary and director of the bureau, complained that Gibson: “promised to institute formal investigations in numerous cases we referred to him. As far as we know, he failed to keep such promises in a great number of cases regarded by us as important. . . . A successful adjustment in many cases depends upon prompt investigation of alleged conditions. In this regard, Mr. Gibson has proved unsatisfactory on most occasions.” A copy of the memorandum with a chart, 5/21/45, of how Gibson handled complaints referred to him is in NAACP, II A656, DLC.




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