No Place in Dearborn for Negro Housing (4 December 1944) Martin Harvey: No Place in Dearborn for Negro Housing (4 December 1944)


Martin Harvey

No Place in Dearborn
for Negro Housing

(4 December 1944)

From Labor Action, Vol. 8 No. 49, 4 December 1944, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

The Mayor and City Council of Dearborn, Mich., have issued a protest against the establishment of a federal housing project for Negroes in that city. Despite the miserable housing conditions in the Detroit metropolitan area, Negro residents apparently are not welcome in Dearborn.

This vicious Jim Crow policy flies in the face of all reason and can only be called a deliberate and conscious attempt to ignore a crying human need.

Conditions in Detroit

The housing situation in the Detroit area is notoriously bad. Innumerable families, white and colored, live in stores, in abandoned schools, in shacks that do not provide such necessities as plumbing and heating.

For Negroes the situation is much worse than for the general population. They can only live in segregated areas. They pay five and ten dollars a month more than whites for the same accommodations. Small flats are crowded with two or more families because additional space is not available or is beyond the means of a worker’s pay check.

In addition to the general need that exists, there is a specific need in Dearborn for additional housing. Thousands of Negro workers are employed at the Ford River Rouge plant in Dearborn. At least 12,000 workers commute daily to and from Dearborn. Yet the Dearborn City Council and Mayor Orville Hubbard protest a Negro housing project! Even a segregated housing project is distasteful to them.

The solution to the housing problem in Detroit and Dearborn can only come through full equality for Negroes in the use of housing facilities and new developments. This means not the allotment to Negroes of a proportionate share of the available housing but the full and unrestricted use of ALL housing. This requires an end to the Jim Crow restrictions of the landlords and city administrations of Detroit, Dearborn and the surrounding communities.

A housing program of this kind requires more than continual, requests for an additional project here or there. These requests are always directed to politicians who are interested in preserving racial division and Jim Crow for the benefit of the capitalists and landlords whom they represent. An example of what not to do can be found in the editorial in the Detroit Tribune, weekly Negro paper, on the action of the Dearborn city administration. They appeal to none other than Henry Ford for aid in the situation.

Henry Ford and Negroes

“Henry Ford,” they say, “has a golden opportunity in this emergency to lift his voice in opposition to the intolerance of his white fellow townsfolk who are protesting against the proposed government house units for Negroes near the Rouge plant.”

It is difficult to imagine anyone appealing for aid to Henry Ford. It is even more difficult to understand why a Negro paper should appeal to Ford for help on Negro housing. Ford’s record on the Negro question, established over many years, should be clear to everyone. He has on many occasions used the Negro question to divide the workers in his plants. He has fomented racial discord to keep the workers fighting each other and thus prevented them from uniting against their main enemy – the Ford Motor Company.

At times he has made gestures to the Negroes to win their support. For example, he employed George Washington Carver, the eminent Negro scientist. It should not be forgotten, however, that this was in line with his policy of racial division – to get Negroes to look to the company for support as against their white union brothers. And Mr. Carver’s work for the Ford Motor Company, it should also be remembered, was worth much more to Ford in terms of profits than Mr. Carver’s salary.

Negro Housing and Labor

No, the Negroes will not receive aid from Ford or from any other big capitalists. But they do have a great natural ally. That is the labor movement. In Detroit this means the United Auto Workers, which has, in fact, been in the forefront of the struggle against Jim Crow and for adequate housing for Negroes and all workers, together with the working class, organized in the unions, Negroes can wage a powerful struggle against the reactionaries like Mayor Hubbard and Mayor Jeffries and can achieve decent housing without discrimination and segregation.

Last updated on 29 June 2020