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David Coolidge

We Know Who the Georgia Murderers Are!

Break the Lynch System!

(5 August 1946)

From Labor Action, Vol. 10 No. 31, 5 August 1946, pp. 1 & 7.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Two Negro men and their wives were brutally and savagely murdered in Georgia last week by a band of 20 white men. They were dragged from the automobile of another white man; the two men were shot and then the two women were murdered. “The upper part of the grotesquely sprawled bodies,” says the New York Times, “were scarcely recognizable from the mass of bullet holes.”

One of the men had just been discharged from the army. He had been overseas five years fighting, so he was told, to make the world safe for the “Four Freedoms,” for “democracy,” for “the American Way of Life.” This man had been told that he was fighting against fascism: against cruelty, savagery and barbarism. This Negro, just out of the army, had been told that he must leave Georgia and the United States and travel thousands of miles to Germany and Japan to accomplish the aim of civilization. He and his black and white comrades in arms must kill Germans and Japanese if they and their families were to be free and secure.

And so, after five years of killing the “bestial Germans” and the “savage Japanese,” after five years of torment and sacrifice, Roger Malcolm came back to the United States and to Georgia. Back to “democracy,” to the “Four Freedoms” and to the “American Way of Life.” Roger Malcolm, George Dorsey and their wives found the American Way of Life just as it has always been, from the horrors of the Middle Passage in the 17th century down to the very minute they were done to death by the Georgia mob.

All through the five years when Roger Malcolm was fighting fascism in Europe and the Pacific, his masters in the United States and in Georgia were preserving The American Way of Life for the day of his return. He must not be disappointed or disillusioned. He, his friend George Dorsey, their wives and 15 million other Negroes. Everything was just as Malcolm left it in the United States and in Georgia.

Hate and brutality, exploitation and misery, the chain gang and the cabin in the cotton; rope, faggot and lash, hunger and raggedness; insult, degradation and proscription. This is America. This is the United States, Georgia, South Carolina, Mississippi and New York for the Negro.

This is what Roger Malcolm came back to. The travail and the agony; this is the United States his wife, his family and all of black America suffered under while Malcolm was killing the German and Japanese “beasts,” who stood in the way of the Four Freedoms.

The Woodward Case

Roger Malcolm came back to the “Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.” And so did Isaac Woodward of South Carolina. Woodward, too, had been away in the army killing Germans and Japanese. He also came back to the “Four Freedoms.” Like Malcolm he found his freedom. On the very day he was discharged from the army he had his eyes gouged out by a bus driver.

Just like Malcolm and Woodward, the Ferguson Brothers of Freeport, Long Island, found the Four Freedoms also. They too came back to the “Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.” And they are dead, too. Not shot or hanged or burned at the stake by German and Japanese fascists but murdered by a policeman. This did not happen in Bilbo’s Mississippi or the Georgia of Talmadge but in Nassau County in Dewey’s New York.

The pattern of the “American Way of Life” for Negroes is the same all over the land: North, South, East and West. Murder. The Mob. Rope and Faggot. This United States. Rapine. Intimidation. Hate. This country ruled over by Talmadge and Dewey. Truman and Taft. Bilbo of Mississippi and the Northern Bilbos. This America of huge wealth and abject poverty. Wall Street and cotton field. Gold Coast and Shanty Town. This is what Roger Malcolm, Isaac Woodward and the Ferguson brothers left and this is what they returned to. This is the way it has been for over three hundred years. This is the way it will always be.

Unless –

Negroes and all the oppressed determine, that if we must die we will die like men, like human beings. FIGHTING BACK. Not like stray dogs, hunted in the streets and byways by any mobster with rope, gun and torch. By any roving uniformed thug, clubbing and slaying in the name of “the law.”

Lamentations are of no avail. Entreaty is a broken reed. Petition and Protest? Petition whom and protest to whom? The Mob? The Government? Which Government? Surely not the government of Georgia, or Mississippi. Perhaps the Government at Washington: The “Conscience of America.” But none of these will listen.

“Negroes must be kept in their place.” “White Supremacy.” “Negroes are Inferior.” “All of History and Biology for the past 6,000 years have proven that the White Race is Superior.” “Slavery is the Natural Condition of the Negro.” “A Negro has no Rights which a White Man is bound to Respect.”

This is the United States of America. The “American Way of Life.”

What do the masters of the country say about these executions “without trial.” Listen to the New York Times. “Decent white people everywhere feel a heartsick sense of shame over this ugly event.” This is a lie.

The “decent white people” the Times is talking about only feel a sense of embarrassment. Or some fleeting sense of fright. They only ask themselves if the Negroes will always consent to die like vermin. They worry lest the Negro toiling masses enlist the support of their own kind from among the white toilers. Even the white workers in the mob might decide some day to fight at the side of the Negroes as brothers and sisters, as common victims with identical interests. This can and might happen. Even in Georgia! Even in Mississippi!

If the “decent white people” are against these executions “without trial” why don’t they do something? Why don’t the rulers of the country act? They have the power. They own and control industry and the government. Why don’t these “decent white people” demand, fight for and insist on SOCIAL, POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC EQUALITY for the Negro people? Why don’t they pass an anti-lynching bill? A Fair Employment Practices Act? Why don’t they remove every insult and degradation under which Negroes live? They are liars. They profit materially, socially and politically from the degradation of the Negro, from the hatred of the little white people for the Negro.

Who Are the Murderers?

The State of Georgia is having great difficulty in finding and identifying the murderers. The Workers Party can identify the murderers: EUGENE TALMADGE and all the Talmadges. Those in Georgia, Washington, New York and everywhere from coast to coast. The murderers are the protagonists and defenders of hate, exploitation, discrimination, disfranchisement and Jim Crow. Under this head we indict: The Government at Washington, the head and front of Jim Crow of this country. We indict the government of the State of Georgia and of New York State. We indict THE CAPITALIST RULING CLASS. We indict every Negro “Uncle Tom,” every “good Negro,” every Negro “who knows his place.”

When will this murder, exploitation, plunder, degradation, insult and Jim Crow end? Not by the intervention of the “decent white people.” These are either the masters and the rulers or the suppliants of the masters and rulers. These are either scoundrels, hypocrites and exploiters or they are quaking cowards. No, we cannot depend on these “decent people.” What sense does it make for the slave to depend on the “shame” of the master class for his freedom?

There have been Negroes who understood this. There are Negroes today who understand it and who stand ready to go into action. They are not the Negro congressmen, the editors, the professional people, the politicians, businessmen or the office-holders. They are the great mass of oppressed Negroes in mine, mill, factory and the fields. These are the real oppressed, those who really feel the lash daily. They are the Malcolms, the Dorseys, the Woodwards and the Fergusons.

The Truly Great Negroes

The truly great Negroes who led the slave rebellions understood what we are talking about. The real giants in the struggle for freedom, equality and human dignity were people such at Nat Turner, Denmark Vesey, Gabriel and Harriet Tubman. These Negroes knew that human freedom and equality are not attained through supplication, no matter to whom or to what the supplication is directed.

There are thousands of black Gabriels, Turners, Veseys and Tubmans today. They are in the cotton fields of the South. They are in the mines, mills and factories all over the land. They are the little people of today: the oppressed, the exploited, the murdered. They are ready to struggle for their freedom and for the genuine freedom of all mankind. They only ask to be taught, organized and led. Not by sychophants, cowards, betrayers, seducers and the deputies of the capitalist master class but by brave, sincere and incorruptible men and women of their own class of workers and toilers.

It will all end when, and only when the little people, the Malcolms, the Woodwards and their kind, black and white, sit in Congress and the White House, the State legislatures, the county buildings and the City Halls. When black and white sharecroppers occupy the desks of the Bilbos and the Tafts in the Senate. When black and white steelworkers and coal miners make and enforce the laws of the nation from the capitals, the courts and the White House. When white Georgia “crackers,” redeemed from race hatred, stupidity and ignorance, sit in the seat of the Talmadges and the Arnalls, clasping the hands of their Negro class brothers.

This will be the day of genuine democracy in the United States: democracy for the masses, Four Freedoms and all freedoms for the oppressed; justice, equality, peace and plenty for all the little people.

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Last updated: 6 July 2019