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Joseph Carter

Negroes and Whites Call Demonstration
in Detroit Against Jim Crow, Apr. 11

(April 1943)

From Labor Action, Vol. 7 No. 14, 5 April 1943, p. 1.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan.

DETROITA mass demonstration to combat the increasing discrimination against Negro workers in this city has been called jointly by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the United Automobile Workers (CIO) for Sunday afternoon, April 11.

More than 15,000 Negro and white workers are expected to participate, according to NAACP President James J. McClendon. The demonstration will begin as a parade at 2:30 p.m., starting at Theodore and John and ending at Cadillac Square, where there will be speaking at the monument of Sojourner Truth.

Charging that the recent work stoppages at Packard, Vickers, U.S. Rubber and other plants were organized by the revived Ku Klux Klan and other anti-democratic groups, Gloster B. Current, executive secretary of the NAACP, told your correspondent that these elements were out to provoke race riots and destroy the union movement. The Negro workers, he added, are loyal and active members of the unions, and are determined to assert their full democratic rights. Skilled Negro workers with many years of seniority have been refused upgrading by the managements, and in view of the “job freezing” cannot leave their jobs.

Mr. Current cited innumerable cases of discrimination against Negroes throughout the city in restaurants, bars, amusement places, jobs and in housing. Trained Negro women are refused work in most plants and in many cases when hired are given either menial jobs or work which is too difficult for them and in violation of the labor code of the state.

The federal agency has refused to permit Negro war workers to live in the Willow Lodge Housing Project at Willow Run. The Detroit Housing Commission continues its segregation policy by refusing to allow Negro war workers to live in war housing projects now being built in the City of Detroit and plans to designate a segregated project at Eight-Mile Road. Mr. Currant stated that the only way to abolish these Jim Crow practices is through the planned, organized efforts of Negroes and whites, such as the joint NAACP-UAW demonstration.

Recently at Ferndale, a Detroit suburb commonly called “Shacktown,” Negro and white school children engaged in fighting with knives. White hooligans, according to reports, notified the Negroes that if they didn’t leave the town they would be run out by violent means. Mass rioting was avoided, these sources state, by the intervention of state troops and the local police.

Numerous stories of discrimination against Negroes are heard throughout the city. According to one of them, a meeting was recently held by the workers in a plant who had refused to work with Negro women who were put on machines. A government official present explained, the story continues, that discrimination against Negroes interfered with the war effort. Whereupon several workers inquired why they have to work side by side with Negroes when the government itself maintains a Jim Crow policy in the armed forces and at its housing projects. The reply of the government official was not reported.

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