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We have chosen to honor Black History Month with a selection of pamphlets chronicling the fight against racism in the U.S. during World War II and the immediate post-war era. Pioneer Publishers was the publishing arm of the Socialist Workers Party during this period. The pamphlets were designed for mass distribution to publicize and explain the party's positions on the key issues of the day. 

The Negro and the U.S. Army image

Defend the Negro Sailors image

The Negro and the U.S. Army, by Eugene Varlin, was published by Pioneer Publishers probably in 1940 (no date is given). Varlin's first line poses the rhetorical question, "What will the colored people get out of this war?" He answers, "If the capitalist class remains the ruler of this country, the Negroes will get out this war what they got out of the last war--and maybe worse."

Defend the Negro Sailors On the U.S.S. Philadelphia by Albert Parker, It was probably published in late 1940 or early 1941 to gain support for 15 African American sailors under arrest for writing a letter to the Pittsburgh Courier exposing the discrimination and abuse they were forced to endure on board ship. They wrote, "... regardless of any action the Naval authorities may take or whatever the consequences may be. We only know that it could not possibly surpass the mental cruelty inflicted upon us on this ship."

Negroes March on Washington image

March On Washington image

Negroes March On Washington, by Albert Parker, was written in 1941 to support the call by A. Phillip Randolph (President of the Brotherhood of Pullman Porters) for a march "On to Washington, ten thousand black Americans!" Randolph had concluded that in the fight to "stop discrimination in National Defense...While conferences have merit, they won't get desired results by themselves."

The March On Washington: One Year After was written by Albert Parker in 1942 as a follow-up to the previous pamphlet. From the cover: "When this pamphlet first appeared as a magazine article, George Schuyler, the noted Negro columnist, wrote in the Pittsburgh Courier: 'Best critique of Randolph's March-on-Washington movement... The caustic comments of the author... and his sound logic should provoke considerable thought in colored America about the eminent labor leader and Spingarn Medallist.'"

Negroes in the Post-War World image

Practical Program to Kill Jim Crow image

Negroes In the Post-War World, by Albert Parker, was published in 1944. Anticipating the end of World War II, Parker proposes, "The Negro's greatest opportunity for advancing toward full equality is now... he will find it much harder... after the war, when his enemies will have disposed of their foreign rivals and will be able to devote their energy and attention toward keeping the Negro in his place.'"

A Practical Program to Kill Jim Crow, by Charles Jackson, was published in 1945. Speaking for the Socialist Workers Party, Jackson explains, "... the Negro will never achieve equality as long as this system, which makes race prejudice profitable, is allowed to exist.... What is more, let us fight on the winning side. Not as Negro against white--where we are outnumbered by 10 to 1; but as working class against boss class--where we are in the majority of 100 to 1."

Vigilante Terror in Fontana image
Letter to American Negroes image

Vigilante Terror in Fontana: The Tragic Story of O'Day H. Short and His Family, by Myra Tanner Weiss, was published by the Socialist Workers Party in 1946 however, it was distributed by Pioneer Publishers. It tells the tragic story of an African American family in Fontana, California who were threatened with violence if they didn't move. Two weeks later their home burned to the ground killing O'Day H. Short, his wife, and two children. Weiss writes, it was "... one of numerous incidents in an unchecked wave of terror against racial, religious, and national minorities and against the labor movement."

A Letter To American Negroes was written by William E. Bohannan and published in 1948. At the time, he was the Socialist Workers Party candidate for Congressman from the 11th District in New Jersey. Bohannan writes, "What the Socialist Workers Party has to offer you is not vote-catching promises but a program that teaches the workers of all races what they can do for themselves when they organize and use their political power. And there is nothing in the world more necessary and precious than that."

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Pages created by Shannon Sheppard, MLIS
last revised 04/8/2013