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E.R. McKinney

One Tenth of the Nation

(30 August 1948)


From Labor Action, Vol. 12 No. 35, 30 August 1948, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).



[Campaign Abandoned]

A. Philip Randolph has announced that the League for Non-Violent Civil Disobedience Against Military Segregation is being abandoned. This is the group which he set up to urge non-compliance with the draft as long as racial segregation was in practice in the armed forces.

In other words, Randolph and Grant Reynolds are getting out. According to Bayard Rustin, the League will continue to function. Randolph announced that he is giving up the non-violent struggle on the strength of Truman’s “announced plan to end segregation in the armed forces.”

What this means is very difficult to say. It is not easy to say just what the Truman directive means. The chief of staff seems to have a view which is not that held by Senator McGrath, who gave Randolph the assurance as to the meaning of the Truman statement.

Whatever the meaning of the Truman statement, the McGrath interpretation, or Randolph’s opinion as to its meaning, this really has nothing to do with the abandonment of the League. This movement was in a state of abandonment from the day of its founding. We commented on this in Labor Action the first week the movement got under way in a hearing before a Senate committee.

The movement was born in the capitol at Washington and not out in the country where hundreds of thousands of future Negro conscripts reside. It has never had any reality or any real base among Negroes except perhaps among a few pacifists, careerists, publicity seekers and crackpots. It was an attempt to import the essence of the Gandhi movement into the United States for use by American Negroes, in a totally mechanical and artificial manner.

We certainly have not the slightest objection to the importation of movements or ideas. What we objected to was the attempt to organize a Gandhi movement among Negroes who had no background for such a movement: psychologically, socially or politically.

Furthermore we attempted in that same article to explain that it was incorrect to separate army segregation from any other type of segregation. Also we asked the question whether or not Randolph and his followers were taking the position that they would not oppose the present militarization program if there were no segregation. Or would Randolph support American imperialism provided it was conducted on a non-segregated basis?

There may be other reasons for the abandonment of the League. Perhaps the Stalinists were sneaking in through the Wallace Party, which is being supported by some of the League members.

We said right at the beginning that Grant Reynolds would not be in at the finish unless the finish came in just the manner it has. Reynolds is just an ordinary little Republican pro-Dewey politician. He was merely out to take a rap at Truman in the interests of Dewey and the Republican Party. That was all.

We intend to have more to say on this matter after we have learned more about the developments in the League.