The Papers of Clarence
and of the NAACP
Washington Bureau 1942 - 1978
Tables of Contents
Prof. Denton L.
Mr. Will Maslow
January 23, 1945
Director of Field
Clarence M. Mitchell
Associate Director of
Weekly Report for the Week Ending
Saturday, January 20, 1945
OUTSTANDING EVENTS AND PROBLEMS
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.
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.
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
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
Southern Bell Telephone & Telegraph Company, 10-BR-344.
U. S. Customs Service, 10-GR-384.
Boilermakers Union, Local 104, 12-UR-499.
following FDR’s have been reviewed and acted upon by me:
XII - 4
Region VI - 5
cc: Mr. Johnson
copy, FEPC RG 228 (Entry 40 PI-147), Office Files of
Clarence Mitchell, Will Maslow folder, DNA.
See Mitchell to Maslow, memorandum, 1/23/45, “Case
Load of Region VII.”
On Lasseter’s instructions to state directors and
their responses, see Mitchell, memorandum, 12/6/44,
See head notes on the Aircraft Industry and on FEPC
Relationships with Federal Agencies.
Memorandum on Case Load of Region VII
January 23, 1945
Director of Field Operations
Clarence M. Mitchell
Associate Director of Field
Case Load of Region VII
When I visited the Atlanta
Office I intended to review all of the current cases there.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
CASES TO BE SENT TO D.F.O.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
OTHER IMPORTANT CASES BEING HANDLED BY THE REGION
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
IMPORTANT U.S.E.S CASES
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
separate report is made on Bell Aircraft, Marietta,
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
See Weaver, Negro Labor, 111-3, 125, 127; and
head notes on the Aircraft Industry.
See weekly report of 1/23/44.
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
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.
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).
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
This and other emphases are in original.
On the significance of NWLB rulings against
discriminatory wage structures, see the headnotes on
Relationships with Federal Agencies and on Mining
See the headnote on Creedal Discrimination.
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
See the section on the WMC and USES in the headnote
on Relationships with Federal Agencies.
March 5, 1945
Director of Field
Clarence M. Mitchell
Associate Director of Field
Weekly Report for the Week Ending
Saturday, March 3, 1945
IMPORTANT EVENTS AND PROBLEMS
For a second time in two
weeks I am listing the Macon Vocational Training Program
under important events in this weekly report.
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
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.
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.
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.
I have treated at some
length the conference with Mr. Robert Goodwin, Executive
Director of the War Manpower Commission in a separate
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.
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.
The following cases were
received from the regions:
Watson Bros. Transfer Company, 9-BR-414.
International Association of Machinists, 4-UR-502 (2/14/45).
FDR’s were received and acted upon by me during the past
VIII - 1
XII - 11
cc: Mr. Davidson
MS: copy, FEPC RG228,
Office Files of Clarence Mitchell, DNA.
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.
No such information has been found.
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
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.
See the section on the International Association of
Machinists in the headonte on the FEPC and Unions.
See Mitchell, memorandum, 2/28/45.
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,
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.
WHAT FEPC ACCOMPLISHED
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,
the War Production Board, and the War Manpower
Commission. All too frequently these agencies
crippled the action of FEPC.
WAR DEPT. OBSTRUCTION
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.
PESIDENT BLOCKED FEPC
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
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.
FEDERAL GOVT., TOO
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
BIG ELECTION JOB
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
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
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
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.
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.
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