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E.R. McKinney

One Tenth of the Nation

(3 May 1948)

From Labor Action, Vol. 12 No. 18, 3 May 1948, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

[Black Policemen]

Atlanta, Georgia, has eight brand new Negro cops right out of a Georgia “police training school.” These eight cops are walking the sidewalks in the Negro section around Auburn Ave. It is reported that five of the new cops have had college training; whatever that means in Georgia. It is not easy to understand why anybody, White or black, would go to college in order to qualify as a cop in Georgia.

There is something very interesting about these new Negro cops. They will be permitted to club and beat up Negroes only. Its the same old story: if a Negro is to have the right to club anybody, it must be another Negro. These Negro cops have instructions not to arrest any white person. Chief of Police Herbert Jenkins said:

“My instructions were specific to Negro officers. When they see a white man who should be arrested they are to call the police station and a squad car with white officers will be sent to make the arrest.”

I don’t know how this scheme will work and I don’t care whether or not it works. I am busy trying to get the answer to a puzzle. I am trying to guess what kind of Negroes these eight cops are. What kind of men are they, if they are men. Have they ever heard of just ordinary plain manhood independence? Do they know the difference between being a man and being a mere walking lump? I take it that these eight will make a very fine record in the Negro section of Atlanta. Atlanta Negroes are going to have some real police “protection.” They will be served by ignorant white cops and eight of “their own people.”

Southern Morals

Mississippi having taken care of “white supremacy” and the “purity of white womanhood” now turns its attention to the “moral character” of its citizens. This would be considered a very laudable enterprise if it were as innocent as it sounds. There area lot of people in Mississippi who need their moral characters changed. But this is something else. If the voters adopt a constitutional amendment just submitted by the legislature, only persons of “good moral character” will be permitted to vote in Mississippi. This has nothing to do with Negroes, mind you. Or any recent decisions of the Supreme Court. Not at all. The state legislators merely discovered that too many people were voting who have bad morals and no character. They plan to put a stop to this. If the referendum carries only God-fearing, upright, law-abiding, sober and clean-thinking Mississippians will be permitted to vote.

This of course will reduce the numbers of voters, but that’s all right. At least there will be one state in the union with clean, honest and moral voting, voting of character. Now its possible to get elected to Congress from Mississippi with two or three thousand votes. After the “good moral character” purge, it will be possible to get elected with two or three hundred votes. And of course all of them will be white votes; since no Mississippi Negro will be successful in convincing the election officials that he lives with his own wife, that he works, that he doesn’t steal and that he isn’t an infidel or a comMUNist.

South Carolina’s professional politicians and officeholders are doing a lot of drinking, spitting and cussing these days. The federal courts have decided that a state political party is not a private club and that a primary of that party is not a barbecue to which the party can invite a few select guests and exclude all who have not been invited. They are trying to devise some scheme to keep the Negroes in the fields and away from the polls on election days. Being rather stupid these politicos have not been able to find an answer.

Dixie Dismay

When the Louisiana legislature convenes during the summer it is expected to pass a law requiring that only those will be permitted to vote, who have a “grammar school education.” I take it that those who run for office must be registered voters and therefore people with a grammar school education. Louisiana may get into difficulties if such a law is passed. There will be a demand for more schools and more teachers, white and black.

Another problem may arise. If thousands of present illiterates and semi-illiterates acquire a grammar school education, that means they will be able to read and write. If they know how to read and write, they can then understand better how to vote in their own interests. That will not be good for the present demagogues who rule the roost.

No matter how they try southern “gentlemen” of various stripes are not having much success in keeping Negroes and more poor whites from the exercise of suffrage and other elementary democratic rights. Dixie’s political leadership of today is on the road to the scrap heap.

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Last updated: 3 March 2018