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Susan Green

Harlem and the Mayoralty Election

(9 July 1945)

From Labor Action, Vol. IX No. 28, 9 July 1945, pp. 1 & 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

All sections of the working people of the City of New York are vitally concerned about jobs and a guaranteed annual wage; about good housing and health-centers; about post-war planning for a better life. And of all the working class millions of this teeming city, the people of Harlem are in direst need.

The people of Harlem suffer doubly – once as working people and as Negroes. Unemployment hits them hardest; economic insecurity is more fearful to them because of discrimination. The housing shortage is felt more by the Negro people because of Ghetto-like restrictions, and rent gouging runs high. Hospitals, parks and playgrounds, so much needed in congested Harlem, are conspicuous by their absence. The post-war crisis will worsen conditions in Harlem.

Politics in Harlem

This part of the city has been dominated by the Communist-controlled American Labor Party, which in turn in this election is tied in with the Tammany-controlled Democratic Party. Something of a bomb exploded within this set-up last week when Abraham Thomas, ALP leader of the Eleventh A.D., and Kathryn Ward, secretary of the Communist Marcantonio Club of Harlem, announced their break-away from William O’Dwyer, to give their support to Jonah J. Goldstein, candidate of the Republican-Liberal-Fusion ticket.

The Harlem leaders stated that the Marcantonio Club membership felt that to support the ALP-Democratic ticket headed by O’Dwyer would not be a true expression of the desires “of the people of the district whom the club has pledged itself to serve.”

About Judge Goldstein, the statement said that the Negro people have “an abiding faith in his will, his determination and his ability to lead our city and all its people into a better world.”

In spite of Marcantonio’s denial of the rift in Harlem, it is a fact that New York City Negroes are as disillusioned as are Negroes all over the country. Undoubtedly the Negro people want something different and that accounts for the break with the Democrat, O’Dwyer. But where on earth do Abraham Thomas and Kathryn Ward get the gall to proclaim the “faith” of the Negroes in the Republican, Goldstein? And how, in the name of facts, has the Republican, Goldstein, proved “his will, his determination and his ability to lead our city and all its people into a better world”?

Demicans and Republocrats

Both the Democrats and Republicans are cut from the same cloth. They are both political parties of the capitalist class, of the ruling class, of the boss class, This class does not want economic, political or social equality between white and black working people. Whatever disunites the working people strengthens the ruling class. Its policy has been, is and will be to divide and rule. Both O’Dwyer and Goldstein represent the same class of capitalists, rulers, bosses. Whatever the differences between the candidates may be, they are superficial compared with this basic likeness.

That the Negroes of Harlem want something else, and break away from the Democrat, O’Dwyer, is good. That their leaders are turning their support to the Republican, Goldstein, is bad. Their leaders want to make the soot on the bottom of the Republican kettle appear whiter than that on the bottom of the Democratic pot.

The Negroes of Harlem and of the entire country must turn to a class program and a class party. The Workers Party has entered the municipal campaign with such a program. Max Shachtman, mayoralty candidate of the Workers Party, stands for certain definite things:

Workers Party Program

These are some of the working-class demands in the platform on which Max Shachtman is running for mayor. He is not saying that his“determination, will and ability” will make a better world – though he has plenty of all these ingredients. What he says is that the working people can make for themselves a better world – if they stop supporting capitalist candidates and capitalist parties.

The demands enumerated above can all be realized by the Negro and white workers if they use their overwhelming political power to form an independent Labor Party – not a party like the American Labor Party or the Liberal Party. These are only tails to the kites of the Democratic and Republican Parties. No – what labor needs is a party entirely free from all capitalist, ruling class, boss influence – a party of workers, black and white.

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