Organizing Black America: An Encyclopedia of African American Associations

By Nina Mjagkij | Go to book overview
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Fahy Committee

See President's Committee on Equality of Treatment and Opportunity in the Armed Forces.

Fair Employment Practice Committee

See President's Committee on Fair Employment Practice.

Fair Share Organization

The Fair Share Organization (FSO) was a direct-action protest group active in northern Indiana, including Gary, Michigan City, and East Chicago, in the 1950s and 1960s. The leaders of the FSO included local activists Hilbert L. Bradley, Julius James, Willie Byrd Jr., David C. Mitchell, and Maurice Preston. The FSO was one of many organizations that were part of the move of the civil rights movement from the South to the urban North. Instead of fighting legal segregation, as southern groups had done, northern activists focused on problems such as equal access to housing and employment.

The FSO began picketing local businesses in the late 1950s. It identified employers with few or no African American employees and demanded that they hire a certain number of blacks. If employers refused to implement the FSO's demands, the organization launched boycotts and pickets.

The FSO began its picketing campaign in an uncertain legal setting. Direct-action campaigns for jobs had been popular in black neighborhoods during the Great Depression; however, state courts had often issued injunctions against them. In 1938, the United States Supreme Court curbed the power of states to prevent direct action campaigns when it ruled in New Negro Alliance v. Sanitary Grocery Company that the federal courts could not issue injunctions stopping boycotts or pickets under the Norris-LaGuardia anti-injunction act of 1932. In 1950, however, the Supreme Court's ruling in Hughes v. Superior Court allowed state courts to continue to issue such injunctions to prohibit picketing for illegal purposes, including quota hiring demands.

When the FSO made racial-quota hiring demands on local retail establishments, business owners appealed to the Indiana courts for injunctions. The courts agreed and enjoined the FSO, ordering it to pay $10,000 in damages to the Philip Nagdeman and Sons clothing store in East Chicago. Appellate courts sustained the judgment, and in 1964 the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the case. These injunctions effectively ended the FSO's efforts.

Like the FSO, the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and other civil rights groups participated in direct-action campaigns in border states and northern cities. Some of the groups negotiated with employers and won immediate concessions; others picketed successfully; and others were enjoined and chastised by local courts. The legal status of such direct-action campaigns remains unsettled but became less important after national fair-employment legislation was passed by the United States Congress and signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson as part of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Gelber, Steven. Black Men and Businessmen: The Growing Awareness of a Social Responsibility. Port Washington, N.Y.: Kennikat, 1974.
Rosen, Sanford Jay. “The Law and Racial Discrimination in Employment.” California Law Review 53 (1965), 729-799.

Fair Share Organization


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