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David Coolidge

Mass Action

(20 December 1943)

From Labor Action, Vol. 7 No. 51, 20 December 1943, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

On the Hiring of Negroes at East Alton, Ill.

The Western Cartridge Company does not employ Negroes at its East Alton, Ill., plant for the reason that “local residents” have maintained a hostile attitude toward hiring of Negroes at Western Cartridge or other local industrial plants. The company says that there is no Negro poplation in East Alton or other towns in that industrial area.

Negroes have had a thorny road in this area for many decades. It was near East Alton in Alton, Ill., that Lovejoy the abolitionist was murdered by a pro-slavery mob. Lovejoy was the publisher of an anti-slavery newspaper. The pro-slavery gangsters had already destroyed three presses belonging to Lovejoy and murdered him in an attack to destroy the fourth press which he had bought.

We take it that there are anti-Negro gangsters in this area today ready to tear down the plant of the Western Cartridge Company, should it employ Negro workers. We are also of the opinion that there are a lot of white workers in that plant who have no objection to working with Negroes. Those who do object will learn to work with Negroes if the Western Cartridge Company goes ahead and puts Negroes to work in the plant. This has happened in other situations and can be repeated all over the United States.

If a strike were in progress at Western Cartridge, and scabs were being run into the plant, the company officials would be yelling their heads off for the city, county, state and federal governments to “protect our loyal employees.”

The union can do a job here, too. It can demand that Negroes be hired. It can protect these Negro workers with union defense guards. These union defense guards can protect Negro workers not only in the plant, but if necessary, to and from the plant, against the attacks of anti-Negro, anti-union hoodlums.


An Incident on a Train in Texas

Down in Galveston, Texas, two Negro soldiers were refused a seat in the dining car of a Missouri Pacific train. They were told by the steward and the conductor to “go back where you belong, you can’t eat in here.”

The Negro waiters, backed up by the train porters, refused to serve the white people in the dining ear. They refused to feed anybody until the ban against the Negro soldiers was lifted. The white guests insisted on being served but the waiters held the line.

Finally the steward and conductor surrendered, and the Negro soldiers were served along with the white people. Later the Missouri Pacific issued an order that Negroes be served on its trains along with other people.

This should serve as an example to all handkerchief-heads and Uncle Toms, white and black, and, especially, to all unions.

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