F. Forest

Harlem and Bilbo’s Party

(8 October 1945)

First published: Labor Action, Vol. IX No. 41, 8 October 1945, p. 1.
Transcription/Mark-up: Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

Harlem is aroused, and rightly so, over the Bilboization of Congress. What the Negro press, however, does not realize is that Bilbo’s invidious attacks against the Negro, the Italian, the Jew and other minority attacks are not merely the ravings of one madman from Mississippi. Bilbo, as a member of the Democratic Party from the prejudice-ridden South, has a voice and an influence not only in Mississippi but in New York. He is a member of the same party that is seeking to foist William O’Dwyer onto the people of New York.

Bilbo is a member of the same party – this bigot from the “Solid South” – as the most liberal Henry (“The Common Man”) Wallace, who has thrown his support to the Tammany-supported O’Dwyer.

The fight against Bilbo cannot succeed by putting into power the party which he represents. That crucial point is conveniently forgotten by the Negro press, from the staid Amsterdam News to the “very radical” People’s Voice. That point, however, is the issue in the mayoralty campaign now facing New York.

Wallace’s Blessing

Recently Wallace caused a stir in the camp of mayoralty aspirants by coming out for the support of Tammany’s Bill O’Dwyer on the supposed ground that had that “friend of labor” and “champion of minority groups,” Franklin Delano Roosevelt, lived, his support would have gone to O’Dwyer. Of that we have no doubt. The man who forced the wage-freeze on labor, knifed the March on Washington Movement and was Commander-in-Chief of the Jim Crow armed forces would doubtless have been much more interested in jobs for well-heeled politicians of Bilbo’s party than in sixty million jobs for the masses.

Nevertheless, the myth of Roosevelt as a “friend of labor” is so persistent that the Liberal Party (not to mention the vociferous LaGuardia of the silent No Deal Party) immediately challenged Wallace’s support as based on an unwarranted assumption. For, you see, Judge Jonah Goldstein also was a Democrat and supporter of Roosevelt and, of course, a “good government man” as contrasted to a machine politician from graft-reeking Tammany Hall.

Democrat or Ex-Democrat

New York is presented with the ludicrous choice of voting for a Democrat or an ex-Democrat. As if that weren’t damning enough, the labor politicians in the American Labor Party and the Liberal Party have no garment they can call their own, but must hide behind Tammany Hall and Hoover’s party – that is, the two old, familiar and infamous capitalist parties which brought New York’s workers unemployment, slums and imperialist war.

Harlem is especially familiar with these “good government men.” During the depression fully fifty per cent of Harlem was on the slow-starvation diet of the relief rolls. LaGuardia, self-styled “champion of the people,” not only did nothing to relieve the situation, but he suppressed even the findings, of his own commission to investigate the 1935 riots in Harlem. They remain secret to this day.

Again it was LaGuardia who, when the war did bring some employment, accomplished precious little in eliminating the slums of Harlem and the ghetto conditions of this fair city where seven and a half million people are supposed “to enjoy the benefits of democracy.” He did nothing to ameliorate the conditions which brought about the 1943 Harlem riots. Yes, the Negro workers know his deal well enough.

They booed him on that momentous night in 1943 and their failure on November 7, 1945, to vote for his No Deal Party will show him plainly enough that they have not changed their opinion of him.

Until 1932 the Negro masses, where they did vote, voted for the Republican Party. When they broke with the fake “two chickens in every pot” Hoover, they, along with white labor, lined up behind the Democratic Party, which promised them a “New Deal.”

New Deal Jim Crow

However, the Jim Crow policy in the armed forces has been convincing more and more of the Negroes that the “New Deal” Party is only dishing out the same old raw deal of discrimination and segregation to them. A new trend away from both the old capitalist parties was shown in 1941, when many Negroes signed the Workers Party petition to put Max Shachtman on the ballot on an anti-war plank.

Today, with the end of the imperialist war and the realization that once again the Negro is subject to the old rule of being the last to be hired and the first to be fired, the most advanced Negro workers are looking for a way out Hundreds of these are buying the Workers Party pamphlet, How to Get Jobs for All, on the streets of Harlem.

These hundreds are spreading the message of the Workers’ Party platform of jobs for all, for a $50 minimum weekly salary, for $50 billion-a-year construction program, against all discrimination. Greater numbers are realizing that a vote for Shachtman is a vote for the only program to secure full employment, and security and equality through socialism.


Last updated on 29 January 2016