Freedom's Sword: The NAACP and the Struggle against Racism in America, 1909-1969

By Gilbert Jonas | Go to book overview

9.

Black Workers, White Unions, and the Struggle for Job Equality

There is thus, unquestionably, room for more concerted action on the side of the Negro people, particularly there is need of an agency attempting to integrate Negro labor into the trade union movement…. The question is, however, whether or not this is the proper task for the NAACP. To an extent it is, undoubtedly, and the Association has, during the New Deal, become increasingly active in fighting discrimination in public welfare policy and in the labor market.

Gunnar Myrdal,An American Dilemma, 1944, 834-835

Even a casual look at the cause of racial unrest in America will discover that the job is the thing. A race has to believe that its members, if they qualify as well as any other applicants, will have a fair shake at employment opportunities. Moreover, if a race is to amount to anything at all, the breadwinner must have access to a pay check. This is the way to feed a family, pay rent to the landlord or make payments on a mortgage, buy health care, send the children to school, buy clothes and furniture, hold the family head up, and look after a dozen other items that require money…. Can one be a responsible, upstanding citizen when those who seek jobs are barred because of color, race and sex?

Roy Wilkins, “The Color of Television, ” nationally syndicated newspaper column of June 30, 1973

-231-

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