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About The Omaha guide. (Omaha, Neb.) 1927-19?? | View Entire Issue (Nov. 28, 1942)
NEGROES DO SKILLED WAR WORK IN ILL.
OVER 1,100 ON JOB
AT STEEL PLANT
This is the third of a series of
articles on the important part be
ing played by the Negro in the na
tion’s war effort in the factories
and in the armies of the United
Demands of the all-out war effort
have so increased employment that
today more than 1,100 Negroes are
working at the South Works of the
Carnegie-Illinojs Steel Corporation,
a survey discloses. These Negroes
are 10 percent of the total number
Of persons On the payroll at this
huge steel mill.
All along the company has had
nondiscrimination as its official
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TWENTY THREE YEARS
- of continuous service at the skill
ed job of blacksmitiling at South
Works, Carnegie, 111., will be the
record set by Jake H. Horton in
policy It didn't take the ern rg
1 ency or government urging to get
ObS for Negroes at South Works,
for many have been employed there
for years. The expansion engend
ered by the war has found Negio
| employees increasing in the same
, proportion as all others, which in
j dicates the plant long has ha l Ne
groes composing 10 percent Of iti
I In fact, one Negro, Ward Fisher,
a laborer at No. 2 Structural Mill,
has been working for the United
States Steel Corporat:on. jf which
Carnegie-Illinois is a subsidiary.
lCr more than 37 years. He start
ed at the Tennessee Coal Iron and
c.ailroad Company in December,
’ono and was transferred to Sour/l
Works in June 1923. Now 61, h«
ftiso has worked for the company
as a gashouee fireman and gas pro
i HOLD SKILLED POSITIONS
But Negro ei,<pio.t n.ent at Sui’th
Works is cot limited to common la
bor nor the unskilled category Ne
gro workers are founu in such Skill
! ed classifications as switch *»nSe;
i gang leaders, locomotive opera?.'"-*
blacksmiths, millwrights and main
tenance men. The semiskilled
j i.-cdigs include Second helper, loco
motive hostler, chipper, scarfei,
stamper .bricklayer helper, loromo
j ive crane switchman and hooker.
Encourage your white neighbors to subscribe ;
to THE OMAHA GUIDE and learn what the dark- !
er one tenth of the American population is think-: j
ing and doing.
| The rest of the employees, such as
janitor, scrap man. gag press h )i>
J er bottom maker helper and laborm
are classed as unskilled.
Many skilled and semi-skilled wor
kers have been at South Works fo
; long periods. Since November, 1919
Jake H. Horton has worked jn the
I b.acksmith’s shop; Robert A. Chan
ey has been a locomotive cran.;
, switchman for fo >r years after
; starting as a laocrer in 1936: since
,1932, Willie i Candy has been a.
boilermaker helper for the preced
! ing nine years.
OX POWER STATION STAFF
J A 1903 graduate if Syracuse Uni
' versity with a degree in electrical
j engineering Charles Carter Robin
! son, started at South Works in Apr
j 1907, as a lineman in the electrical
| department. Six months later hi
was made a motor operator in the
rail mill and in April, 1908, a sub
station operator. He advanced
through various positions until
, November, 1939, when he was made
Operator of No. 1 switchboard in
the No. 3 power station.
Holding a similar position as swit
chboard operator is the No. 4 power
station is Elmer H. Wilkerson, who;
began at South Works in April 1912,
as a sub-station operator in the el
ectrical department, being advanc
ed to motor operator, then motor
house tender and power station op
erator. befre receiving his present
job in 1939.
These and all other Negro employ
ees are integrated throughout the
plant, working beside whites with
out friction. South Works offn
ials say they know of no trouble
caused at any time by the two rac?s
working together. This policy o!
integration is carried over into ihe
use of all plant facilities. No scp
aration is practiced in locker room
and similar accommodations.
I'll buy all I can...
MAYBE I can’t grab a gun. But I want to take a
shot at those Axis birds somehow. So I’m buying
War Savings Bonds and Stamps. That way, I know
my dimes and quarters and dollars are. in there
fighting tor me. That’s the way I want it. And
that's the way it’s going to be until this thing is
over, ’cause every time I can ...
Ill buy all I can!
This is the filth of a series of advertisements by PEPSI-COLA COMPANY
' to promote the sale of United States War Bonds and Stamps. Do your share !
—Invest 10% of your pay EVERY PAY DAY in War Bonds and Stamp®.
PffSI-CC • Made Orff By *e»*Coh CowpMf. CHy, H. Y. Settled by AatWfacd httlm ftm twit t« Coast
LOCOMOTVE CRANE SWTCHMAN
—Robert A. Chaney served as a la
borer for two years in the yard de
partment at South Works before be
ing promoted to his present iob.
The workers themselves have vol
untarily crossed color lines in the
Good Fellow Club, an independent
employee organization not sponsor
ed by the plant. Many Negroes are
members of this club and take full
part in the athletic activities, wel
fare functions and other organiz
SOLVE LABOR PROBLEMS
Many belong to the union, w.tn
some serving on labor committees,
including the United Steelworkers
Grievance Committee and the Joint
Labor Management War Production
These facts indicate that the hir
ing of Negro labor is not an exper
iment at South Works and that Ne
gro and whit? will work harmon
iously together, not only On the job
but in outside activities. As for of
ficials of Carnegie Illinois steel 1
they state that they are satisfied ,
with their Negro employees, whom i
they find to be ‘ loyal and efficient'
The Pressed Steel car Co., one of
the biggest Of the defense plants in
the Chicago area, has learned the
value of Negro labor in the manu- j
facture of medium and light tanks.
The company .operating on three
eight hour shifts, employs more
than 300 Negroes, many of whom
are performing highly skilled tasks.
John Michel .assistant to the vice j
president, conducting visitors thru
the plant, can point out Negroes'
operating milling machines, boring
mills, precision grinding machines,
arc welding machines, turret lathes
and other implements used to turn
out the 30 odd-thousand different'
ARTIST SHAPES GUN TURRETS
One of these men, Frederick
Banks, who has won several prizes
as a portrait painter, is doing com
plicated layout wirk on armored
gun turrets. Another, Guy T. Myl
es for 13 years a machinist, is op
Grating a giant vertical boring mill.
Several Negro youths took advan j
tage of their idle moments when:
they were working as janitors or j
laborers in other plants and learn
ed all they could about machine i
tools. They now turn out tank
parts that fit into other parts with
an accuracy of les than one thous- •
andth of an inch. Others, doing
the samp sort of precision work,
obtained their basic training on
NT A projects and in defense train
Negroes and white men work side
by side in this plant, turning out
fast moving tanks to win the war
for the land they love
The fourth article, which will ap
pear in The Omaha Guide, will deal
with the part Negroes are taking
in the Armed Forces.
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WHY NEGROES SHOULD SERVE
IN THE ARMY
(continued from page 1)
I belong to no organization, and
I act solely for myself. But I know
I reflect the feeling of many thous
and of my fellow Americans of Ne
gro blood, who are called upon to
fight for a democracy they do not
I am taking my stand now, I am
full yconvinced that in so doing I
take a position on democratic prin
ciplts which are far more important!
to me than any penalty I may suf
I have arrived at my position not
lightly- X am not a man who3e
temper leads him to public notice.
I would refrain from resisting if I
could! Yet I cannot Jive with my
self and yield the ground of prin
ciple on which I stand, and for
which I am prepared to take what
evtr consequences come.
After I had read that letter of
yours, we talked for quite a whilel.
I raised a number of questions a
bo'ut your decision and you answer
ed them. Usually you got back to
the point of your letter: that you
had the constitutional right t° fight
for your country on a basis of equal
ity and could not fight otherwise.
That seemed to me to be hardest of
all arguments for a white man to
I told you that I believed this to
be a two-front war.
♦The military front against the
Fascist armies in the field.
♦The political front to improve
and broaden and strengthen our de
mocracy at home.
I said it seemed to me that the
military fron was the more urgent
for, if we lose that fight, any gainsi
made on the other front will be
meaningless. And it is on the home
political front that the Negro must
win his fight for a full measure of
democracy. Granting that the Ne
gro has not achieved real democ
racy—for the very foundation of
democracy is equality—I argued
that if we lost on the military front;
the Negro would lose even the right
to fight for the things that have 1
been denied him.
You agreed that it is a two-front'
war, but you said that you coujd ■
not believe that one front more ur-1
gent than the other. You said in
any event, that you didn’t believe!
we could win on the military front
until and unless we had unity at
home. That, you said, could come)
only if the Negro did achieve his
full measure of democracy.
I asked if you didn’t think that
even the right to fight for equality
was worth fighting for. I said that
the stake of the Negro was the.
same as that of the underprivileged
white man, that democracy was the
only means by which common peo
ple, white or black, could win and
I add now a few samples of other
people who suffer in some degree or
other the same kind of discrimin
ation that burdens you. The Sou
thern white sharecropper, the Jew
particularly in communities whei'o
he is numerous, the Catholic, part
icularly in comunities where he is
few—those, too, are victims of dis
crimination. Democracy is the one
protection for all of them.
You agreed with what I said a
bout democracy. You said that be
cause of the color of your skin,
your stake in it was greater than
mine. I understood what you
meant. As a white man. I had e
quality. As a Negro, you did nut
To you, the very denial of this her
itage gave it a higher value than;
it could have to me, for I had it
and took it for granted. But, you
added, you felt you had to make ev
en this great sacrifice for the princ
iple you stood for.
I asked you if this was the only
way you knew to fight for the e
quality of your people: to refuse to
bear arms and. instead, spend the
rest of the war in some stinking
THE OMAHA GUIDE
A WEEKLY NEWSPAPER
Published Every Saturday at 241820 Grant St
PHONE WEbster 1517
Entered as Second Class Matter Match 15, 1927, at
the Post Office at Omaha, Nebraska, under Act of
Congress of March 3, 1879.
ti. J. Ford. — — — Pres.
Mrs. Flurna Coooet, — — Vice Pies
’. C. Gallowav. — Pub.isher and Acting Editor
Boyd V. Gaiit/way. — Sec’y and Treas.
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prison. I told you of other Negro
es who had accepted the Jim Crow
ism in the Army, not because the..'
approved, but to cary on the fight
for better race relations while end
uring the very injustices to which
you properly object. There are a
couple more I would like to men
There is Joe Louis, who fought
for the Navy Relief at a time when
the Navy would not have a Negro
in its ranks except as a menial in
the mess service. Don't you agree
that part of the credit for the
Navy’s later decision to open the
door to Negroes goes to the exam
ple set by Joe Louis?
Or Dorie Miller—didn’t that Ne
gro messman, denied the right to
man & gun, bring the day of equal
ity and understanding closer for all
Negroes when he did man a gun
at Pearl Harbor?
You met my point by granting
that a Negro could serve his people)
and country in the armed services.
You hoped that all who could would
do so. For you know the slaveiy
that fascism holds for all of us if
we are beaten. But for yourself,
you said, your conscience would per
mit you only to make the other
I asked you to consider the Sou
thern white Bourbons—Negro-hat
ers of the vile stripe of Eugene
Talmadge—who were in the service.
When one of these men dies in ac
tion, I said, his blood is being shed
as much for your right to fight for
equality as for his own version of
You said that even if you could
bring yourself to enter the Army
and submit to its Jim Crow discrim
ination, it would not be fair to the
country, your leaders, or your com
rades. For, you said, feeling as you
do, your whole body and souL wouli
not be in the fight—and a soldier
must give everything.
I asked why, if discrimination,
meant so much to you, you had not
gone around throwing bricks in
windows long since—for you had
never known anything but discrim
ination. I asked why you had
waited until now.
You replied, simply, that the idea
of serving in a Jim Crow Army was
Just the last straw.
I asked if you thought that re
sistance to the injustice of dis
crimination should be carried to the
ultimate—if the Negro should club
the white man on the head in an ef
fort to make him surrender the e
quality to which you are entitled.
I knew how stupid the question
was when you answered, quietly, i
that equality could not be achieved
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| by Negroes and whites who were
fighting each other.
There was more- But those were
the main lines.
As 1 look back at what I have
written, I see that I have not done
you justice. Your arguments, your
justifications for your decision have
not been set down here without
the clarity, without the integriv
wihout the fully reflecting the in
telligent honesty of purpose which
you gave to them when we spoke.
As I write your side of the case, i
' lose the burnnig pain of yOur bur
den, the sincerity of your approacn.
As I left, I expressed my regret
that a man such as you should be
wasted in jail. I felt inadequate
to meet the simple courage of your
insistence that you had constitu
tional right to fight for your coun
try' as a free man on the same basis
as any other free man; that you.
•ouldn’t bring yourself to surrender
that right by submitting to the se
gregation and humiliation of Tim
Crow discrimination in the Army.
At this late day, there is just one
dea I would like to add. You are
a man of courage: your very decis
ion shows it. Have you the cour
age to take even that final Step
to fight for your people that ■way;
to fight discrimination while wear
ing of your own free will the heavy
yoke of discrimination; to stand as
a proud man by subjecting yourself
to humiliation: to forego your rights
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that you may win them? These
discriminations of the Army are not
the end of everything, they are
just the handicaps of the fight.
If your answer is no, I still know
you as a man of courage, and the
equal of any man I know. If your
answer is yes, I will know you not
as the equal, but as a better man
Some time, somehow, all of us.
whites and blacks together, will win
the democracy of equality we uro
fighting for, and I feel that you can
serve that fight better in the Army
than in your cell.—JOHN P. LEWIS
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