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Albert Parker

The Negro Struggle

A Negro Mother Writes FDR

(5 & 25 April 1942)

From The Militant, Vol. 6 No. 17, 25 April 1942, p. 7.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The following letter, written by the mother of one of the Negro soldiers shot dead in the recent Fort Dix gun battle between M.Ps, and Negro troops, speaks for itself. It is an eloquent example of the growing spirit of anger and resentment among the Negro people at the tide of Jim Crow violence that has taken the lives of 5 Negro soldiers in the last month.

Conyers, Ga., April 5, 1942

President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Washington, D. C.

Dear Mr. Roosevelt:

I am the mother of George Hall, who was killed at Fort Dix, N.J., by a group of your white M.Ps.

Are the Negro women of this country raising up boys to be slaughtered like hogs and beef cattle by the M.Ps.?

My son is being buried today because of wanting to fight for his country. I have read of the death of several Negro soldiers being killed and nothing is being done about it. I would like very much for you to make a thorough investigation of my son’s death, and the death of all other Negro soldiers who died likewise.

I know that I speak in the voice of all women, when I say that I love my children, and do not want them to be killed just on account of neglect. I read in the paper where the soldiers had slipped some ammunition from the firing range. This should never have been, for I think that all firearms are supposed to be taken away from the soldiers before they leave: if this is so, there must be some neglect on somebody’s part. The officer in charge should be punished for letting firearms be handled by soldiers, unofficially.

Our colored boys need better protection in the army. We don’t want to labor for years bringing up our children to be respectful men and then have them killed like dumb driven cattle.

I have struggled hard for my children to get an education, and taught them to respect authority.

Please don’t pass this up; I want you to promise me that you will investigate this case, not only for me, but for 3,000,000 Negro mothers.

They are burying my son today.


A heart-broken mother,
Mrs. Fannie Hall


UAW Opposes Housing Jim Crow

In Congress recently, Representative Tenerowicz of Michigan took the floor, to utter the lie that the majority of the CIO auto workers were opposed to permitting the Negro people to move into the Sojourner Truth housing project in Detroit which had been built for them.

In this way he hoped to remove from the real estate interests and reactionary vigilante organizations the responsibility for organizing the February 28 attack on the Negro families trying to move into their homes.

But the recent UAW conference in Detroit completely exposed Tenerowicz’s filthy trick. President Thomas reported what the congressman has said, and then called on everyone in the hail who was in agreement with Tenerowicz’s position to stand. Not a single delegate arose. Thomas then asked the delegates who agreed with the official UAW stand, for the unqualified right of the Negro people to move into their homes, to get up. Everyone of the 1,500 delegates stood up.

* * *

There has been such a furore about an article on the Jewish question in the Saturday Evening Post that very little attention has been called to another interesting article printed in the April 11 issue of that magazine. The author of this article is Brian Fenton, editor of The Daily Telegraph, a newspaper published in Sydney, and among other things he says the following:

“One side of Australia’s case for America’s aid I have not mentioned because I do not think I need to tell Americans that this wholly white democracy of 98% British stock looks with horror at any change in its status vis à vis the little yellow man. We think the country could support four or five times its present population, but we want newcomers to be of our own color and race.”

Now you can understand how generous are the Australians who hold Fenton’s point of view, to permit Negro newcomers in the form of United States Army labor battalions to serve in Australia until the war is over ...

* * *

Marjorie McKenzie, Pittsburgh Courier columnist, has touched on an important aspect of Knox’s April 7 order announcing that Negroes from now on would be able to serve in a Jim Crow section of the “reserve components” of the Navy, Marines and Coast Guard.

Her point is that from now on it will be even more difficult than it was before to compel the Navy – and the Army – to stop segregating the Negroes from the whites.

Many people who don’t understand the nature of the Negro struggle will say: “Well, segregation is not a nice thing, but now the Negro people can serve in the Navy, and that’s what really counts.”

But that’s not what really counts. The issue is: not the mere right to serve in the Navy, but the right of complete equality in every sphere of life. Those who do understand this will see that Knox’s move was intended to do just that – cut the ground from under this protest movement, without at the same time making a single concession to Negro equality.

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