PART I - ESCALATING TENSION: THE EARLY YEARS

1930's


ARMY DRAFT AND RECRUITINGS
DETROIT, MICHIGAN: NOVEMBER 9, 1934
 
Families and friends of Negroes watch loved ones leave for Camp Castro.


Army Draft and Recruits - Nov 9 1934 photo ArmyDraftandRecruits-Nov91934_zps34beefee.jpg
 


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STATE WITNESS OFF TO JAIL AFTER HINES TRIAL BOMBSHELL
NEW YORK, NEW YORK: AUGUST 18, 1938
Acme News Pictures, Inc. (Chicago Bureau - Tribune Tower, Chicago, Illinois)
 
Julius Williams, Negro witness for the state, who was locked up in the tombs, August 18th, when Judge Ferdinand Pecora ordered his nominal bail of $500 as a material witness revoked and boosted to $10,000 after Williams, testifying for the state, created a furor by declaring that he had been threatened with jail unless he falsely accused James J. Hines, Tammany District Leader, of being connected with the numbers racket syndicate. Williams is a Tammany election captain in Hines' district.


 photo StateWitnessoffToJail-August81938_zps4f3d7dab.jpg

 

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1940's


SLUG (NEGRO-COPS)
DETROIT, MICHIGAN: JUNE 20, 1943
International News Photo (Unit of King Features Synd. Inc.)
 
Police have cornered one of the Negro Suspects…


Slapping and Fights Detroit MI D5 International New Photo June 21 1943 photo SlappingandFightsDetroitMID5InternationalNewPhotoJune211943_zpsdc7ea3e6.jpg

Slapping and Fight Telegraph photo SlappingandFightTelegraph_zpsc96f8c32.jpg

The DETROIT RIOT OF 1943 began June 20, 1943, and lasted for three days before Federal troops restored order. The rioting between blacks and whites began on Belle Isle on June 20, 1943 and continued until June 22, killing 34, wounding 433, and destroying property valued at $2 million. 
 
In the summer of 1943, in the midst of World War II, tensions between blacks and whites in Detroit were escalating. Detroit's population had grown by 350,000 people since the war began. The booming defense industries brought in large numbers of people with high wages and very little available housing. 50,000 blacks had recently arrived along with 300,000 whites, mostly from rural Appalachia and Southern States.
 
Recruiters convinced blacks as well as whites in the South to come up North by promising them higher wages in the new war factories. Believing that they had found a promised land, blacks began to move up North in larger numbers. However, upon arriving in Detroit, blacks found that the northern bigotry was just as bad as that they left behind in the South. They were excluded from all public housing except Brewster Housing Projects, forced to live in homes without indoor plumbing, and paid rents two to three times higher than families in white districts. They also faced discrimination from the public and unfair treatment by the Detroit Police Department. Job-seekers arrived in such large numbers in Detroit that it was impossible to house them all.
 
In early June 1943, three weeks before the riot, Packard Motor Car Company promoted three blacks to work next to whites in the assembly lines. This promotion caused 25,000 whites to walk off the job, effectively slowing down the critical war production. It was clear the whites were refusing to work side-by-side with blacks. During the protest, a voice with a northern accent shouted in the loudspeaker, "I’d rather see Hitler and Hirohito win than work next to a nigger".
 
The altercations between black and white youth started on June 20, 1943, on a warm Saturday evening on Belle Isle. The confrontation between groups of blacks and whites then spread into the city. Rumors had started that a white man had thrown a black woman and her baby off the Belle Isle Bridge. Another rumor was that a white woman was raped and killed by a black man on that same bridge. The worst had begun. Both blacks and whites began battling each other in the streets of Detroit. More than 1,800 were arrested, the vast majority being black. Thirteen of the murders remain unsolved.


 

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VICTIM OF STREET RIOTING
DETROIT, MICHIGAN: JUNE 21, 1943
Associated Press Wirephoto (RT21640FP)
 
Two youths help a Negro to his feet after he was badly beaten in street fighting which marked race riot which raged in several parts of the city today. None of the persons is identified.


DT12 Detroit MI victim of race riot being helped by youth AP Wirephoto RT21640FP June 21 1943 photo DT12DetroitMIvictimofraceriotbeinghelpedbyyouthAPWirephotoRT21640FPJune211943_zpsaa211192.jpg

 

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WOUNDED NEGROES BROUGHT INTO HOSPITAL
HARLEM, NEW YORK: AUGUST 2, 1943
Associated Press Wirephoto (HGR20810fitz)
 
Negroes injured in street battles with police are assisted into
Sydenham Hospital by patrolmen during Harlem disorders early today.
Four persons were killed in the disturbances.


Wounded Negroes Brought Into Hospital - Aug 2 1943 photo WoundedNegroesBroughtIntoHospital-Aug21943_zps1ac1075f.jpg

 

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PROTEST OPA CURTAILMENT
 
NEW YORK, NEW YORK: APRIL 25, 1946
Daily News Photo (RRS 22801)
 
Members of “consumers’ lobby” of 800 citizens, who packed the City Council’s chamber, parade with signs against the House’s curtailment of OPA powers during demonstration sponsored by the Emergency Committee for Extension of Price and Rent Controls.


Protest OPA Ontario Power Authority Curtailment RRS 22801 April 24 1946 photo ProtestOPAOntarioPowerAuthorityCurtailmentRRS22801April241946_zpsf092c5ba.jpg

The Office of Price Administration (OPA) was established within the Office for Emergency Management of the United States government by Executive Order 8875 on August 28, 1941. 
 
The functions of the OPA were originally to control money (price controls) and rents after the outbreak of World War II.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt revived the Advisory Commission to World War I Council on National Defense on May 29, 1940, to include Price Stabilization and Consumer Protection Divisions. 
 
It became an independent agency under the Emergency Price Control Act, January 30, 1942. The OPA had the power to place ceilings on all prices except agricultural commodities, and to ration scarce supplies of other items, including tires, automobiles, shoes, nylon, sugar, gasoline, fuel oil, coffee, meats and processed foods. At the peak, almost 90% of retail food prices were frozen. It could also authorize subsidies for production of some of those commodities.
 
The OPA was abolished effective May 29, 1947, by the General Liquidation Order issued March 14, 1947, by the OPA Administrator. Some of its functions were taken up by successor agencies.


 

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PACKINGHOUSE WORKERS RALLY
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS: OCTOBER 30, 1946
Daily News Photo (RRS 06443)
 
Charles Winters, P.A.C. director for the United Auto Workers in this area, addresses a group of Wilson & Co. employees during a lunch hour rally in Ashland Ave., just off 42nd St. The rally was staged to urge workers to attend a meeting at the Chicago Stadium Friday night to hear an address by Henry A. Wallace.


 photo PackinghouseWorkersRallyChicoagoILOct301946RRS06443_zpsa688d182.jpg

 

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A. PHILIP RANDOLPH WITH SIGN
 
PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA: MAY 7, 1948
Photographer: Sy Kattelson)
Postcard


If We Must Die F Phillip Randolph w Sign Republican Convention Philadelphia PA 1948 Photogragher Sy Kattelson photo IfWeMustDieFPhillipRandolphwSignRepublicanConventionPhiladelphiaPA1948PhotogragherSyKattelson_zpsb9ed002c.jpg

A. Philip Randolph had won a significant victory in 1941 when he persuaded Franklin Roosevelt to desegregate defense industries but the armed forces serving in World War II were very much two separate armies, black and white. Not only were blacks segregated, but they were often denied combat roles. No doubt they had performed valuable service, but often at the rear of the army–driving trucks through sleet and snow, delivering food and medical supplies, building roads. Civil rights leaders, including Randolph, had protested the War Department’s policy throughout the war. 
 
A. Philip Randolph was determined that this wasteful and impractical policy would come to an end and was ready for the fight when a new impetus, came in April 1946 when the Gillem Board, which had been formed by the army to investigate armed forces’ policies toward blacks, released its report. Though the directive recommended "eliminating any special consideration based on race," it in fact did nothing to question or change the underlying policy of separateness.
 
A. Philip Randolph was determined that southerners and others were going to "come out of it," at least in the arena of the armed services. By late September 1947, Randolph, along with black New York Republican, Grant Reynolds, had formed the Committee Against Jim Crow in Military Service and Training. This was in response to the realization that new legislation bearing on the armed forces was about to be considered by Congress. By May 7, 1948, A. Philip Randolph was quite visible, as he and eight others marched in front of the White House. This dignified regal man carried a sign with his slogan: "If we must die for our country let us die as free men–not as Jim Crow slaves." The demonstrators distributed buttons inscribed, "Don’t Join a Jim Crow Army.
 
On July 26, 1948, President Harry S. Truman abolished racial segregation in the armed forces through Executive Order 9981.
 



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