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Negro Migration during the War
by Emmett J. Scott
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In view of the desirability of most migrants in this city, several persons have seen fit to make a comparison of the negro and foreign labor, with a view to determining whether or not the employment of negroes in the North will be permanent, as they may easily be displaced by the foreigners immigrating into this country in the future. The consensus of opinion is that the blacks are profitable laborers, but that their efficiency must be decidedly increased to compete with that of the white workers. Some of the faults observed are that they are as yet unadapted to the "heavy and pace-set labor in the steel mills." Accustomed to the comparatively easy going plantation and farm work of the South, it will take some time for these migrants to find themselves. "They can not even be persuaded to wait until pay day, and they like to get money in advance, following the habit that they acquired from the southern credit system. It is often secured on very flimsy pretexts and spent immediately in the saloons and similar places." Yet the very persons who make this estimate of the negro laborer say that the negroes born in the North or who have been in the North some time are as efficient as the whites, and that because of their knowledge of the language and the ways of this country, they are often much better than the foreign laborers who understand neither.

The principal industrial centers in Ohio to which the migrants went were Cincinnati, Middletown, Akron, Dayton, Springfield, Youngstown, Columbus and Cleveland. The city which took the lead in endeavoring to handle the migration problem was Cleveland. This was due to a considerable extent to the fact that the housing conditions in Cleveland were especially bad. Investigations made in the summer of 1917 by the Chamber of Commerce showed that housing conditions never were so in need of remedying as they were at that time. The influx of negroes, thousands of whom were living in box cars on railway sidings, was only one feature of the problem, investigators say. In nearly every part of the city, and especially in the vicinity of large manufacturing plants, workers are herded together, paying as much as $8 a week for a single room for a whole family.[130]

The Cleveland Welfare Federation appointed a committee composed of representatives of both races, to study problems made acute in Cleveland by the recent incoming of probably 10,000 negroes from the South. At the first meeting of this committee, August 3, 1917, the city welfare department announced that 61 per cent of the men in the workhouse at Warrensville were negroes and that of 100 women 66 were negroes. The normal proportion of negroes in the workhouse before the migration began was about 10 per cent, he said. This had mounted rapidly in the last year. It was brought out that the cause of this increase lay in housing congestion, lack of opportunities for recreation and because negro migrants are ignorant of the city's customs, laws and ordinances. A subcommittee was therefore appointed to look into this matter, as well as into that of perils surrounding newly arrived negro girls. A subcommittee was also appointed to study housing congestion and health problems. The secretary of the Cleveland Real Estate Board reiterated that there were 10,000 houses, renting at $25 and under, needed at the present time for both negro and white residents, and that, owing to labor difficulties and the high price of building materials, very little had been done to relieve the situation. He stated that a partial solution could be found in inducing both negro and white people who could afford to build or buy houses to do so, and thus free more houses for those who can not afford to buy them. It was asserted that unless something should be done before cold weather the housing problem would become acute.[131] To assist in meeting the house shortage a group of prominent negroes organized "The Realty Housing and Investment Company."[132]

The negro churches and other organizations cooperated in the effort to solve the problem of caring for the newly arrived negroes. In December, 1917, all the organizations and agencies working to aid the migrants were united in the Negro Welfare Association of Cleveland.[133] William R. Connors, a negro social worker, was employed as executive secretary of the new organization, beginning January 1, and offices were opened in the Phyllis Wheatley Association Building at East 40th Street and Central Avenue. The budget for the first year was estimated at about $5,000.

The organization acted as a clearing house for all the problems confronting the negro people there and cooperated with other agencies in the following activities: relief work, nursing service, legal aid, employment, promoting thrift, providing recreation through the public schools and otherwise, studying the delinquency problem, caring for discharged prisoners in cooperation with the workhouse and promoting community singing. It investigated the social conditions among negroes, with a view to establishing those agencies which are needed, or to point out the needs to the organization already established. It endeavored to educate the negro public to a full appreciation of the possibilities of a definite social program and to its responsibility for seeing that it is carried out.

In June, 1916, a call was issued for a statewide conference of representative white and colored people to be held at the capital of the State, Columbus, on July 12, 1916, to take steps toward caring for the 100,000 negro migrants believed to have remained in Ohio. Among those who signed the call were J. Walter Wills, President of Cleveland Association of Colored Men; Reverend H.C. Bailey, President of National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; W.S. Scarborough, President of Wilberforce University; Charles Johnson, Superintendent of Champion Chemical Company, Springfield, and Edward T. Banks, member of Charter Commission, Dayton.[134] The mayors of Ohio cities named delegates to the conference. At this conference the Ohio Federation for the Uplift of the Colored People was formed, and an extensive program designed to improve economic and social conditions was outlined. Branches of the Federation were soon established at Akron, Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Dayton, Piqua, Steubenville, Youngstown and other points.

Reports showing labor, housing, general welfare and health conditions among the negroes throughout the State were compiled and distributed broadcast. It was also decided to send lecturers through Ohio cities to visit negro centers for the purpose of instilling within the race a desire for better living conditions. A campaign was waged also to bring about greater censorship of motion pictures. Efforts were made to have the State Council of National Defense and the State and City Labor Bureaus actively interest themselves in the problem of negro employment.[135]

The State of Ohio also undertook an investigation of the migration movement. Reports to the Ohio branch, Council of National Defense, indicated a very serious situation resulting from the exodus of negroes. An investigation at direction of Governor Cox was conducted by the Council and State Department, to get as much information as possible concerning the unprecedented migration. The first work was a study of health conditions in several cities by the State Department of Health, which took immediate steps to correct evils. The negroes who were coming into the State were being crowded into the negro sections of the various cities in such a way that the health of these communities, in many cases was being seriously threatened. The Council of National Defense asked the Ohio branch for information on the migration, particularly to learn if it had been artificially stimulated and accelerated by agencies that have paid so many dollars a head for every negro from the South.[136]

Detroit, because of its importance as an industrial center, was one of the places to which the largest number of migrants to Michigan went. The negro population of the city in 1910 was 5,741. It is now estimated that the city has between 25,000 and 35,000 blacks, three-fourths or more of whom have come there during the past two years. As elsewhere, the majority of the negroes are in unskilled occupations. There is, however, a considerable number of skilled and semiskilled workers. Detroit was formerly a city where the negro was restricted to a very few lines of work.

The wartime pressing needs of the industrial enterprises have caused the barriers to be removed. The available evidence that Detroit has removed the barriers from the employment of negroes in many lines is considerable. There were calls for 336 truckers, 160 molders, 109 machinists, 45 core makers and for a number of other miscellaneous skilled and semiskilled men. Most of the women were wanted in domestic and personal service in private homes, but 32 calls came from a garment factory, 18 from a cigar factory and 19 for ushers in a theater.

Their wages were exceptionally high according to Dr. George E. Haynes' intensive study of the returns of 407 families. One received between $30 and $39 a month; three received between $40 and $49, six received between $60 and $69; 20 received between $70 and $79; 96 received between $80 and $89; 6 received between $90 and $99; 27 received between $100 and $119; 21 received between $120 and $129, and 4 received $140 or more a month. There was a man working at $6.30 a day. The number of days they were employed a month could not be ascertained. There were 161 men whose monthly wages were doubtful or unknown, two men were the owners of a business and five were unemployed. Of the 45 women who were the heads of families, 13 were doing day's work at $2 a day and one at $2.50 a day, but the number of days they were employed could not be ascertained and so the monthly wages could not be calculated. There were two women earning between $40 and $49 a month and three earning between $70 and $79 a month. The monthly wages of 26 were doubtful or unknown. "As far as these figures are typical of the wages of negro workmen in Detroit," says Dr. Haynes, "they show that the prevailing wages of the men are from about $70 to $119 a month; for, 159 of the 194 men whose wages were ascertained were receiving wages ranging between these amounts. The prevailing wage for women is about that of those doing day work, $2 a day."[137]

In Detroit, as in other places, there is conflict of opinion as to the value of the negro as a laborer. The survey of the migrants there showed that there were diverse views about the suitability of negro labor. Mr. Charles M. Culver, General Manager of the Detroit Employers Association, thought some employers were highly pleased with negro workmen and some were not. He said:

There are two lines of adverse opinion about the negro as a workman; first, nine-tenths of the complaints of employers are that he is too slow. He does not make the speed that the routine of efficient industry demands. He is lacking in the regularity demanded by routine of industry day by day. Second, the negro has been observed to be disinclined to work out-of-doors when the cold weather comes. Employers have discussed this and have not found the negro satisfactory on this point. Unless the negroes overcome this practice employers will turn to other sources of supply when their present extreme needs are past. Employers must have a labor supply upon which they can depend at all seasons—laborers who will work out-of-doors winter as well as summer.

Speaking of the colored women employed in the manufacture of garments by the Krolick Company, Mr. Cohen, the superintendent, said his greatest difficulty was in overcoming the timidity of the girls and in inducing them to believe they can become successful operators and earn good wages.

The peculiar situation caused by the sudden increase of the city's negro population was met by organized efforts directed, in the main, by the local branch of the National League on Urban Conditions among Negroes, which here also took the lead in helping the migrants adjust themselves.[138] Among the important things done by the league were the establishing of a vocational bureau, a bureau of investigation and information regarding houses, and a committee on recreation; the inaugurating of a ten cent "newcomers" community dance, which was held every Tuesday evening in a public school in the heart of the negro district; the development of athletic features for the immigrants, and the organization of a branch of "Camp Fire Girls." The league induced one of the largest foundries to build low-priced homes for its negro employes near the plant. It also somewhat relieved the housing problem by the purchase of leases from the proprietresses of a number of disorderly houses which were closed by the police. In each case the league persuaded some manufacturer to take over the lease, and in this way a large number of negro families were accommodated. It also kept a list of vacant houses and was surprised to find how many of them were not listed by commercial real estate agents.

The league persuaded the police commissioner to appoint a special officer, selected by the league especially for the newcomers. It is his duty to mingle with crowds on the streets where the newcomers congregate and urge them not to make a nuisance of themselves by blocking sidewalks, boisterous behavior and the like. He was also provided with cards directing newcomers to the office of the league when in need of employment. The league itself kept a close watch on the negro underworld of Detroit and immediately apprised the police when dives were developed especially to prey on the immigrant.

The Board of Commerce cooperated in a movement for the investigation and improvement of working conditions of negro employes in the various manufacturing plants in Detroit. The Board of Health gave considerable assistance in obtaining better and more sanitary housing conditions. The aid of several mothers' clubs among the colored women was enlisted to instruct immigrant mothers in the proper diet and clothing for children in a northern climate. From the outset, the aim was not only to put each migrant in a decent home but also to connect him with some church. Many times the churches reciprocated with considerable material as well as spiritual assistance.

Valued cooperation was given by the Young Negroes' Progressive Association, a body of thirty-four young colored men, most of whom attended the various schools and colleges about Detroit. They have been the finest possible agents in the development of all the different activities. In the adjustment of the negro, a definite place must be given to the development of industrial efficiency. In pursuance of this object the league, with the assistance of the Progressive Association, carried on a movement.[139] Representatives of the two organizations visit the various factories where large numbers of negroes are employed and talk to them during the noon hour on the necessity of creating the best possible impression at the present time so that they may be certain of retaining their jobs in the future. At the same time, the speakers circulate these cards:

WHY HE FAILED

He watched the clock. He was always behindhand. He asked too many questions. He wasn't ready for the next step. He did not put his heart in his work. He learned nothing from his blunders. He was contented to be a second-rater. He didn't learn that the best part of his salary was not in his pay envelope. —Success.

[Footnote 127: Epstein, The Negro Migrant in Pittsburgh, p. 7.]

[Footnote 128: Epstein, The Negro Migrant in Pittsburgh, pp. 7-8.]

[Footnote 128: The latter objection is illustrated by the case of the white bargemen of a big steel company who wanted to walk out because black workers were introduced among them, and who were only appeased by the provision of separate quarters for the negroes. While there is an undeniable hostility to negroes on the part of a few white workers, the objection is frequently exaggerated by prejudiced gang bosses.]

[Footnote 129: The same superintendent told of an episode illustrating the amicable relations existing in his shop between white and black workers. He related that a gang of workers had come to him with certain complaints and the threat of a walkout. When their grievances had been satisfactorily adjusted, they pointed to the lonely black man in their group and said that they were not ready to go back unless their negro fellow worker was satisfied.]

[Footnote 130: Cleveland News, August 11, 1917.]

[Footnote 131: Cleveland Plain Dealer, August 4, 1917.]

[Footnote 132: An advertisement of this company in the Cleveland Advocate was as follows:

Cleveland is short 10,000 houses:

The city on Lake Erie is face to face with the problem of "Housing the People!" We have been on the job day in and day out and are pleased to announce that we have just played a master stroke.

You may ask what is it? We will answer.

We have just secured the group of seven apartment houses which are rapidly nearing completion on East 40th Street between Central and Scoville Avenues. Three and four room suites with bath, hot water, electric lights, gas ranges, heating appliances, refrigerators, Murphy in-a-dor beds. Laundry just waiting to be occupied. All for colored people. ]

[Footnote 133: Cleveland Town Topics, December 22, 1917.]

[Footnote 134: Dayton News, July 7, 1917.]

[Footnote 135: Cincinnati Enquirer, September 12, 1917]

[Footnote 136: Columbus Dispatch, August 1, 1917.]

[Footnote 137: Haynes, Survey of the Migrants in Detroit.]

[Footnote 138: The Urban League is maintained by the Associated Charities and private individuals to study Detroit's negro problem and improve the condition of the city's negroes. Forrester B. Washington is director in charge of the league. The organization will aim to direct negro sentiment and support along lines of best interests for Detroit.—Detroit News, November 6. 1916.]

[Footnote 139: Two surveys of the migrants in Detroit were made. One was under the auspices of the negro committee of the Home Missions' Council of the Churches of Christ in America and was published under the title, "Negro Newcomers in Detroit." This survey investigated industrial opportunities, housing and recreation facilities, and the work which the churches were doing and should do for Detroit's newcomers.

The Church Extension Committee of the Detroit Presbytery made a survey of the negro problem in Detroit. This survey showed that the negro population of the city has grown from 5,000 in 1910 to 21,000 in 1917. The negro churches of the city are utterly inadequate to take care of the religious needs of the race here, it was shown.]



CHAPTER XII

THE SITUATION AT POINTS IN THE EAST

No less conspicuous as attractions to the negroes of the South were the various industries of the State of Pennsylvania. Although not so closely connected with the Black Belt of the South as are so many of the industrial centers of the West, Pennsylvania nevertheless was sought by many of these migrants because of the long accepted theory that this commonwealth maintains a favorable attitude toward persons of color. It drew upon this population too because of the very urgent need for workers in its numerous industries during the labor crisis resulting from the falling off of the foreign immigration. When, moreover, manufacturing establishments of the State multiplied as elsewhere because of the demand for the manufacture of munitions of war, this need became more urgent than ever.

According to the census of 1910, the State of Pennsylvania had 193,919 inhabitants of negro blood, 84,459 of whom lived in the city of Philadelphia. During the recent rush to that commonwealth, however, investigators are now of the opinion that the negro population of that State is hardly less than 300,000. These migrants were, of course, not all settled in the city of Philadelphia. Here we see another example of a rerouting point, a place where the migration broke bulk, scattering itself into the various industrial communities desiring labor. Among the other cities and towns receiving this population were practically all of those within a radius of about one hundred miles of Philadelphia, such as Lancaster, Pottsville, York, Altoona, Harrisburg and certain other towns lying without the State, as in the case of Wilmington, Delaware, a site of a large munitions plant. In some cases the negro population in these towns increased more than 100 per cent in a few days.

The chief factors in the bringing in of these negroes from the South were the leading railroads like the Erie and Pennsylvania. During the shortage of labor, these corporations found it impossible to keep their systems in repair. In this situation, they, like the smaller concerns further west, sent labor agents to the South to induce negroes to supply this demand. Unfortunately, however, so many of the negroes who had their transportation paid by these firms counted it more profitable to leave their employ immediately after arriving, because of the unusually high wages offered by smaller industries in just as urgent need of labor. Instead of supplying their own demand, therefore, the railroads were benefiting their neighbors.

A better idea as to the extent of the congestion made possible by this influx of newcomers may be obtained from the comments of observers in that section. Traveling men tell us of the crowded houses and congested streets which marked the places wherever these migrants stopped. Housing facilities being inadequate, temporary structures were quickly built and when these did not suffice, in the case of railroads, ordinary tents and box cars were used to shelter the new laborers. Owing to these unsatisfactory conditions and the inability of employers to ameliorate them, the migration was to some extent discouraged, and in a few cases a number of the migrants returned to their homes in the South, so that the number that actually came into the State is much less than it would have been, had it been possible to receive and adequately accommodate the negroes in their new homes.

In Philadelphia the situation at first became unusually critical. Being closer to the Southland than most of the large cities of the country, the people of Philadelphia are much more prejudiced against the negro than those in some other northern cities. It was necessary, therefore, upon their arrival in that city for them to crowd into the district largely restricted to negroes, giving rise to such unhappy conditions as to jeopardize the peace and health of the community. Numbers of these migrants died from exposure during the first winter, and others who died because of their inability to stand the northern climate made the situation seem unusually alarming. It was necessary, therefore, to organize social workers to minister to the peculiar needs of these newcomers. Appeals were made in their behalf and a number of prominent citizens felt that it was necessary to urge them to remain in the South.

The solution of this problem was rendered a little more difficult for the reason that here, as in many other centers in the North, the newcomers were not welcomed by their own race. Philadelphia had for years been pointed to as having a respectable, thrifty and prosperous colored population, enjoying the good will and the cooperation of the best white people in the community. These northern negroes felt then that the coming of their brethren in the rough did them a decided injury in giving rise to a race problem in a northern community where it had not before figured. This unusual influx of other members of the race greatly stimulated that tendency to segregate negro children in the schools, to the deep regret of the older citizens of Philadelphia. Other social privileges as in theaters, churches and the like, formerly allowed the negro citizens of that city, tended gradually to be withdrawn.

The negro migrants were not altogether innocent. Many of them used their liberty in their northern home as a stumbling block. Receiving there such high wages which they could not judiciously spend, the unwise of their group used this unusually large income to their own detriment and to that of the community. It was indeed difficult to restrain a poor man who never had had a few dollars, when just arrived from a section of the country where he had not only been poor but restricted even in expending what income he received. Many of them received $6, $7 and in a few cases $8 to $10 a day. They frequented saloons and dens of vice, thereby increasing the number of police court cases and greatly staining the record of the negroes in that city. A number of fracases, therefore, broke out from time to time, growing in intensity in keeping with the condition to which the community, unaccustomed to negro neighbors, saw fit to manifest its displeasure. This finally culminated in the recent riots in Philadelphia in which a number of blacks and whites were killed.

Feeling that they did not have the support of the officers of the law, the negroes of the city organized a Colored Protective Association and raised a fund for the prosecution of policemen and others who might aid mobs. The method of strengthening itself is to organize the churches of the city with a view to securing the cooperation of every negro there. To advance this work, a large sum has been raised. Other efforts of this sort in behalf of the negroes in Philadelphia have been made by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Armstrong Association in cooperation with the National League on Urban Conditions among Negroes.

Social workers in general soon found it necessary to address themselves to the task of readjusting these migrants.[140] The Philadelphia Academy of Medicine, composed of negro physicians, dentists and druggists, put into effect measures calculated to meet requirements for housing, sanitation, medical attention and education. Systematic medical inspections were given, and projects for the erection of houses and the adaptation of existing buildings for lodgings are under way. Eighty negro physicians of the city collected information which took the form of a weekly report of the Bureau of Health. Real estate dealers were asked to submit lists of every house immediately available for the relief of the overcrowded buildings then occupied by the negroes and to provide hundreds of new ones, cheaply but substantially constructed. Stereopticon lectures and talks were given on an increasing scale in all the negro churches telling the new arrivals how to care for themselves in the Philadelphia climate, how to avoid colds, which lead to pneumonia and tuberculosis, the two most common diseases among them, and other useful information in general.

The Interdenominational Ministerial Union of Philadelphia, embracing all the negro ministers of the city, drew up certain resolutions setting forth their views relative to the migration and making some suggestions concerning the situation in Philadelphia. They pledged themselves to look after the comfort of the migrants in every way possible, urged them to join the churches and other organizations for improvement, and send their children to the schools, and to utilize the libraries, night schools and other agencies of culture which were denied them in the South. These ministers urged them also to work regularly, and give their best services to their employers regardless of pay, remembering always that the race is on trial in them; that they save their money, and purchase homes and become a part of the substantial citizenry as soon as possible.[141]

A Negro Migration Committee was formed, composed of eight workers from social agencies and charitable societies, to provide suitable housing for negro families arriving in this city and to aid them in getting work. Each member of the committee is to work through the organization he represents and be responsible for one specific phase of the problem.[142]

Notwithstanding the efforts that were made to improve the housing conditions, the situation in this respect continued to grow worse. In December of 1917, representatives of the various social agencies and of the corporations employing large numbers of negroes met in a conference on the housing situation. "All the questions involved in the reasons for the colored people coming north and the problem of housing and caring for them were seriously discussed."

Some representatives of the corporations asserted that the men were not reliable and dependable, going from place to place and only working a few days in each week. The social service workers stated that the reason for this is that there are not a sufficient number of houses in which to take care of the men and their families, and that the districts in which they lived were shamefully crowded. According to these workers the only way in which the men can be made satisfied is by providing more homes for them in sanitary and wholesome quarters. After thoroughly considering the problem a permanent committee was appointed to deal with the problem in all its aspects.[143]

One of the most effective agencies for dealing with the situation created by thousands of negroes migrating north was the Armstrong Association. This association gave special attention to stabilizing negro labor and to improving the housing conditions. The association brought before several corporations conditions of housing and recreation which would enable them to retain their workers. They provided a negro welfare worker for the American International Shipbuilding Company, to attend to the stabilizing of negro labor. The association is perfecting plans for better housing of negro workers and the providing of recreation centers, such as are now enjoyed in virtually every city by the white workers. The association obtained the cooperation of a number of large industrial firms and corporations in this city, to aid it in the employment of competent negro welfare workers to help adjust existing conditions, making for greater efficiency and reliability among the negro race.

The demand for labor by the many industrial plants located in New Jersey caused that State to get a very large proportion of the negro migrants and as a result to have, in acute form, the problem of housing conditions and the other problems incident to a large number of migrants being within her borders. To assist in caring for the situation a Negro Welfare League was organized with branches at various points in the State.

Writing on the situation in New Jersey, a contributor of The Survey, for February 17, 1917, states:

The native negro residents of the city and suburban towns have been kind and generous in helping the southern stranger. They have collected money to send numbers back home, and when the bitter cold weather began they collected and distributed thousands of garments. Resident negroes have also taken hundreds of newcomers into their own homes until rooms could be found for them. But, while different churches and kind hearted people had been most active in helping individually, there was no concerted movement to bring all these forces together until the organization of the Negro Welfare League of New Jersey. Industries of New Jersey have utterly failed to provide the housing which would enable their negro help to live decently and in enough comfort so that while growing accustomed to their unusual work, they might be stimulated to become useful and efficient.

In the last two weeks the Negro Welfare Committee, with the help of an investigation of 120 self-supporting families, all of whom were found in the worst sections of the city, showed that 166 adults—only twenty of whom are over forty years of age—and 134 children, a total of 300 souls, are all crowded into insanitary dark quarters, averaging four and two-sevenths persons to a room. These fifty-three families paid a total rent per month of $415.50, an average of $7.66. The average wage of these people is $2.60 a day. In not one of the 120 families was there a wage earner making the maximum wage of $3 and $4 a day. Some of the reports in brief were: "Wife and children living over a stable. Husband earning $11 a week." Three families in four rooms, "a little house not fit for a chicken coop." "A sorry looking house for so much money, $15 a month; doors off the hinges, water in the cellar, two families in five rooms." "Indescribable; so dark they must keep the light burning all day." "This family lives in three rooms on the second floor of a rickety frame house, built on the side of a hill, so that the back rooms are just above the ground. The entrance is in a muddy, disorderly yard and is through a tunnel in the house. The rooms are hard to heat because of cracks. A boy of eighteen was in bed breathing heavily, very ill with pneumonia, delirious at times." Unused to city life, crowded into dark rooms, their clothing and household utensils unsuitable, the stoves they have brought being all too small to heat even the tiny rooms they have procured (the instalment houses are charging from $20 to $30 for these stoves), shivering with the cold from which they do not know how to protect themselves, it is small wonder that illness has overtaken large numbers.[144]

Newark, New Jersey, was one of the places to which the migrants first came in large numbers. William H. Maxwell, President of the Negro Forward Movement, of that city, issued an appeal for the protection from the unscrupulous of southern negroes migrating to Newark. He declared that they were being made to work for lower wages than they had been promised and that storekeepers and dealers were charging them high prices for worthless goods. The Newark Presbytery took up the matter of proper housing and clothing of the migrants who were unaccustomed to the rigors of a northern climate.

On September 23, 1917, a State conference of negroes was held in Newark to devise ways and means to cooperate with the State authorities in looking after the welfare of migrants. Soon after this conference, it was decided to establish a State bureau, "for the welfare and employment of the colored citizens in the State and particularly to look after the housing, employment and education of the citizens migrating from the South." On October 12, Governor Edge had a number of social workers among the negroes to meet him, "to discuss the several perplexing and grave economic, industrial and social problems arising from the steady influx of the negro migrants from the South." The conference was held in the Assembly room at the State House. Col. Lewis T. Bryant, Commissioner of Labor, presided. After many reports and discussions of work accomplished in various parts of the State, the body voted to accept the proposed Negro Welfare Bureau, under the Department of Labor. A fund of $7,500 is available for the coming year's maintenance and work. The scope of this bureau's work was employment, housing, social welfare and readjustment, education and legal fairness. This bureau acted as a welfare clearing house for all social agencies working for the betterment of the colored people.

At the next session of the legislature, a bill was passed, February, 1918, establishing in the Department of Labor the Negro Welfare Employment Bureau. According to a report of the work of the Negro Welfare Bureau made public in April, 1918, considerable progress in the work of improving both the migrating negroes to New Jersey from the South as well as the members of the race generally who have been in this State for some time has been made. With the possible exception of Salem and Hudson counties, the sheriffs of the State report no increase of criminality from the migration of negroes from the South. At Pennsgrove in Salem county, where the Du Pont powder plants are located, Sheriff William T. Eiffin reports that considering the increase in population there has been an increase in crime in that county, but that the situation is well in hand and diminishing to normal.[145]

Hartford was one of the industrial centers to which large numbers of the migrating negroes went. The housing problem became acute and the chief efforts of those endeavoring to better the conditions of migrants was along this line. Religious, civic and commercial bodies gave attention to the amelioration of this problem.[146] The problem of housing negroes who were coming in greater numbers each year to Hartford was taken up briefly by speakers at the 128th annual meeting of the Hartford Baptist Association at the Shiloh Baptist Church. It was decided to bring the housing problem before the attention of the Chamber of Commerce, which, it was said, some time before had appointed a committee to investigate it. Negroes complained that they were obliged to pay higher rent than white folks and that they were obliged by landlords to live together in cramped quarters that were, by reason of the crowding, insanitary. They said also that the living of several families almost as one family leads to a breaking down of the moral and religious ideals.[147] Conditions in Hartford resulting from the bringing of more than 2,500 negroes from the South were discussed at the fall meeting of the Confidential Exchange with a view to preparing for these new arrivals.

At the June, 1917, meeting of the Chamber of Commerce, a committee was appointed from that body to investigate housing conditions and to cooperate with other agencies in improving them. The committee met frequently through the summer with the housing committee of the Civic Club, in an endeavor to ascertain the facts bearing upon the present situation. It had before it leading colored citizens, ministers, business men and industrial workers, some of whom have lived here for years and others who have recently arrived from the South. It was discovered that there was, at that time, plenty of work and at good wages, but the universal complaint was the lack of homes suitable for proper living and the extortionate prices asked for rents. Negroes in Hartford were suffering from the cupidity of landlords. They were obliged to live in poor tenements and under unhealthful conditions because accommodations of another class were withheld from them. For such inferior accommodations they were charged outrageous rents, because selfish property owners knowing that negroes must live charged all the traffic would bear. Partial relief was obtained from the immediate need by the purchase of buildings already erected, and homes for them were later built. It appeared that for the first time in many years Hartford had a race problem on its hands.

[Footnote 140: The Philadelphia North American, February 2, 1917.]

[Footnote 141: Resolutions of the Interdenominational Union.]

[Footnote 142: Philadelphia Inquirer, March 2, 1917.]

[Footnote 143: The Living Church, December 22, 1917.]

[Footnote 144: Cotton Pickers in Northern Cities, The Survey, February 17, 1917.]

[Footnote 145: The Courier (Camden, N.J.), April 30, 1918.]

[Footnote 146: The Hartford Courant, September 19, 1917.]

[Footnote 147: The Hartford Post, October 9, 1917.]



CHAPTER XIII

REMEDIES FOR RELIEF BY NATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS

The sudden influx of thousands of negro workers to northern industrial centers created and intensified problems. More comprehensive and definite plans for aiding the migrants were, therefore, worked out and more effective methods of help instituted during 1917. A conference on negro migration was held in New York City under the auspices of the National League on Urban Conditions among Negroes, January 29-31, 1918. Among those attending the conference were representatives of capital, of labor, of housing conditions, the Immigration Bureau of Social Uplift Work for Negroes and others. The subjects considered were causes and consequences of the migration, present conditions of those migrating and what is to be done to aid in the negroes' adjustment to their new environment.

The conference was of the impression that negroes, then migrating to the North in unprecedented numbers, were preparing to come in larger numbers in the spring. It, therefore, recommended that wherever possible, whether in the city or rural community, organizations be formed to foster good feeling between the two races, to study the health, school and work needs of the negro population, to develop agencies and stimulate activities to meet those needs, by training and health protection to increase the industrial efficiency of negroes and to encourage a fairer attitude toward negro labor, especially in regard to hours, conditions and regularity of work and standard of wages, and to increase the respect for law and the orderly administration of justice. It further recommended that similar organizations be formed or existing organizations urged to take action which, in addition to the purposes already mentioned, should seek to instruct the negro migrants as to the dress, habits and methods of living necessary to withstand the rigors of the northern climate; as to efficiency, regularity and application demanded of workers in the North; as to the danger of dealing or going with unscrupulous or vicious persons and of frequenting questionable resorts; as to the opportunities offered by the towns and cities of the North in schools, hospitals, police protection and employment, and as to facilities offered by the church, Y.M.C.A. and other organizations.

The various religious denominations among negroes were profoundly affected by the migration movement. The sudden moving of thousands of communicants from one section of the country to the other caused many churches in the South to become disorganized and in some instances to be broken up. In the North the facilities of particular denominations were inadequate to accommodate the new communicants who would worship in the church of their particular faith. In some instances, it was necessary to hold double services in order that all who wished to attend the services might be accommodated. A writer in the Southwestern Christian Advocate, the organ of the negro members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, said: "The movement of the negroes by the thousands from the South to the North raises a many sided question. The missionary view is the logical view for the church, and that side of the question falls logically upon her hands for solution."[148]

The Boards of Missions of white denominations carrying on work among negroes made studies of the migration movement. Dr. Gilbert N. Brink, Secretary for Education of the American Baptist Home Mission Society, issued a pamphlet on "Negro Migration, What does it Mean?"[149] "The Invasion from Dixie" was the title of a circular issued on the migration by the Board of Home Missions and Church Extension of the Methodist Episcopal Church. In this circular two questions were asked with reference to the migrants. "What are you going to do for them?" and "How may we best serve this most pressing need of the present time?" The circular further said:

The problem as seen from the viewpoint of the Methodist Episcopal Church is twofold. First, somehow to conserve the work we have already done in the South where the migration is leaving. Second, to provide religious opportunities for those people who have come from our own churches of the South as well as those unreached by church influences, so that at the beginning of their new life in the North they may all have the influence of the Church of Jesus Christ to shape and mold their future.

The Home Missions Council, which is composed of representatives from the boards doing missionary work in the United States, through its committee on negro work had a survey made of the migrants in Detroit. The results of this survey were published under the title "Negro Newcomers in Detroit." Detroit was selected because of the large numbers of negroes, who had been attracted to that city, and also because it was believed that the conditions in Detroit, although changing, were sufficiently typical of other northern industrial centers as to give a fairly accurate understanding of this modern phase of the negro problem, which might have acute and serious aspects if not speedily cared for by an enlightened judgment, and the quickened conscience of the Christian church.

The African Methodist Episcopal Church through its annual conferences, its Bishops' Council and its Missionary Department, undertook to meet the migration situation as it affected and imposed duties on that denomination. The Bishops' Council recommended to all the departments of the church that, to meet the needs of the church as to the expenditure of money in the home field of the North and Northwest for the benefit of "our migrating people," that they should do the best they could, "in assisting in the establishment of missions and church houses for our beloved people, consistent with their obligations already provided for by law and by the action of the Missionary Board."[150] A circular containing the following questions was sent out to the A.M.E. churches throughout the North.

How many persons, to your knowledge, have come from the South into your vicinity during the past year?

In what sections of your city are they located?

To what extent are they African Methodists?

From what section of the South have they come?

What reasons do they give for coming to the North?

To what extent have they found employment? At what, and what is the average wage paid?

Have you a Lookout Committee in your church to seek these people? If not, what organized effort is being put forth to church them?

Has any special mission work been started among or for our southern brethren, in your vicinity? If so, what and where?

What number of people from the South have united with your church during the past year?

How do they affiliate with your people?

What is the attitude of your members toward them?

So far as you have seen, is the better plan, where the numbers warrant it, to establish a distinct mission for them or bring them into the already established churches?

Bishop R.A. Carter, of the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church, after an extended trip north in the interest of the work of his denomination for the migrants, published in the official organ of his church a description of the situation as he found it, and what the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church should do to assist in meeting the needs of the situation. He said:

I have just returned from an extended trip through the great Northwest, having visited St. Louis, Chicago, Gary, Milwaukee, Detroit, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Clarksburg and West Virginia.... Heretofore the few church houses in those cities have been sufficient for the colored people who were there. Since the migration of our people in such great numbers, the church facilities are alarmingly inadequate. It is necessary to hold two services at the same time in many churches and then hundreds are turned away for lack of room. It is pathetic to have to tell people who attend one service not to return to the next so that a new crowd may be accommodated. Yet that is just what must be done in many instances up that way now. There must be more churches established in all the large cities of the North and East and Northwest for our people or serious results will obtain in the future.

He considered the opportunity and duty of the C.M.E. Church as great and urgent. He recommended the purchase of vacant white churches offered for sale and the transfer of some of the best pastors. He urged that there be launched a movement for a great centenary rally for $500,000 with which to take advantage of the great opportunity which confronted the race in the North.

Before the migration movement the strength of the negroes in labor unions was largely in the South. In this section they were found in considerable numbers in the carpenters, bricklayers, plasterers, longshoremen and miners unions. In the North, however, they were not generally connected with the unions mainly for the reason that, excepting the hod carriers, teamsters, asphalt and cement workers and a few other organizations of unskilled laborers, they were not found in any occupation in sufficient numbers to necessitate being seriously considered by organized labor. The necessities of the industrial situation created by the war, however, brought thousands of negroes north and into trades and occupations in which hitherto they had not been found at all or only in negligible numbers. A change in attitude, therefore, was necessary. At the 1910 annual meeting of the National Council of the American Federation of Labor a resolution was unanimously passed inviting negroes and all other races into the Labor Federation. The officers of the Federation were instructed to take measures to see that negro workmen as well as workmen of other races be brought into the union. In 1913 this action was reaffirmed with the assertion that

Many years ago the American Federation of Labor declared for the thorough organization of all working people without regard to sex, religion, race, politics or nationality; that many organizations affiliated with the American Federation of Labor have within their membership negro workmen with all other workers of their trade, and the American Federation of Labor has made and is making every effort within its power for the organization of these workmen.[151]

At its 1916 annual convention held in November at Baltimore, the American Federation of Labor considered the question of negro migration. The question was brought formally before the convention by the Ohio State Federation of Labor and the Cleveland Federation of Labor reciting that: "The investigation of such emigration and importation of negroes in the State of Ohio had demonstrated to the satisfaction of labor leaders in that State that they were being brought north for the purpose of filling the places of union men demanding better conditions, as in the case of freight handlers." Believing that "the conditions that prevailed in Ohio might apply in all northern States," the president and Executive Council of the Federation were instructed to begin a movement looking towards the organization of negroes in the southern States."[152]

At the 1917 convention of the American Federation of Labor held at Buffalo, New York, the question of negro labor was again considered. It was observed that the colored laborers and helpers throughout the southeastern district were not as familiar with the labor movement as they should be, especially upon the different railroads of the southeastern territory; and that there were fifteen different railroads in the district for which there were only four colored locals. Feeling that a negro organizer, because of his racial and social relations among his people, could accomplish much in organizing the forces into unions, the National Convention appointed a negro railroad man as organizer for the territory as above mentioned. Another set of resolutions, relating to the general condition of negroes in the United States, making suggestions to secure the cooperation of the American people and the national government in an endeavor to have the nations participating in the coming world peace conference agree upon a plan to turn over the African continent or parts thereof to the African race and those descendants of said race who live in America and desire to return to Africa, and thus enable the black race to work out its own destiny on an equality with other peoples of the earth, was referred to a committee. The report was, "Your committee can not be responsible for and rejects the statements contained in the resolution, but, inasmuch as portions of it refer to the organization of negro workers, the committee recommends that that portion be referred to the Executive Council."[153]

At the annual meeting of the National League on Urban Conditions among Negroes, held in New York City, January 29-31, 1918, resolutions relating to labor unions and the negroes were adopted and a committee was appointed to place the resolutions before the executive committee of the American Federation of Labor. The resolutions adopted were as follows:

For the first time in the history of America, the negro working man is in large numbers getting a chance to offer his service at a fair wage for various kinds of work for which he is fitted. This opportunity, however, has come as a result of conditions over which neither he, nor those offering him the chance, have control.

In the city of New York, on the 31st day of January, 1918, we in conference assembled under the auspices of the National League on Urban Conditions among Negroes, while in no way seeking to condone the existence of the worldwide war which has been forced upon our beloved country, wish to express our gratitude for the industrial changes wrought and to record our prayer that the benefits thus far derived by the negro may continue and so enlarge as to embrace full and fair opportunity in all the walks of life.

I. We wish especially to address ourselves to the American Federation of Labor which at its recent convention in Buffalo, New York, voiced sound democratic principles in its attitude toward negro labor.

We would ask the American Federation of Labor, in organizing negroes in the various trades, to include: (1) skilled as well as unskilled workmen, (2) northern as well as southern workmen, (3) government as well as civilian employes, (4) women as well as men workers.

We would have negro labor handled by the American Federation of Labor in the same manner as white labor; (1) when workmen are returning to work after a successful strike; (2) when shops are declared "open" or "closed"; (3) when union workers apply for jobs.

We would have these assurances pledged not with word only, but by deeds—pledged by an increasing number of examples of groups of negro workmen given a "square deal."

With these accomplished, we pledge ourselves to urge negro working men to seek the advantages of sympathetic cooperation and understanding between men who work.

II. We would also address ourselves to the Labor Bureau of the United States Government.

In our national effort to speed up production of articles essential to the conduct of the war as well as the production of other goods, let us not lose sight of our duty to our country in quantity production by an unreasonable prejudice in many quarters against the use of negro labor. Negro workmen are loyal and patriotic, cheerful and versatile. In some sections there is an oversupply of such labor; in other sections a shortage.

We would urge the appointment of one or two competent negroes in the Department of Labor to serve as assistants in each of the bureaus in distributing negro labor to meet war and peace needs.

III. We would urge negro workmen to remain cheerful and hopeful in work; to be persevering in their efforts to improve in regularity, punctuality and efficiency, and to be quick to grasp all opportunities for training both themselves and their children. Success lies in these directions.

IV. We would impress upon employers the fact that the efficiency of their employes during work hours depends very largely on the use made of the non-working hours. Most of the complaints against negro labor can be removed if proper housing, decent amusement, fair wages and proper treatment are provided.[154]

These resolutions were presented to the executive officers of the American Federation of Labor on February 12, 1918, by a committee composed of E.K. Jones, Director of National League on Urban Conditions among Negroes, Robert R. Moton, Principal of Tuskegee Institute, Archibald H. Grimke, Thomas Jesse Jones, specialist in the United States Bureau of Education, J.R. Shillady, Secretary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Fred R. Moore, editor of the New York Age, George W. Harris, editor of the New York News, and Emmett J. Scott, special assistant to the Secretary of War. The committee requested of the Executive Council that a committee be appointed by the American Federation of Labor to confer with a committee representing the interests of the negroes. This request was granted.

At the American Federation of Labor annual convention held at St. Paul, Minnesota, in June, 1918, the problem of negro workers and organized labor again received considerable attention. B.S. Lancaster, a negro delegate to the convention from Mobile, Alabama, offered a resolution asking for the appointment of a negro to organize negroes not now affiliated with unions in the shipbuilding trades. Another resolution was to the effect that negro porters, cooks, waiters and waitresses, section hands and all negro railway employes to be organized. The press reports of the convention under date of June 12, said:

Dr. R.R. Moton, Principal of the Tuskegee Institute, and J.R. Shillady, of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, are authors of a communication asking for closer cooperation between white and colored workers. They ask that Mr. Gompers prepare a statement on his stand toward negro labor, and charge that some unions discriminate against colored workers. They urge consideration of revision of union charters to permit negroes to become members. The communication was referred.[155]

These efforts were not without some result, for sentiment began to change. In its August, 1918, issue the editor of the Labor News of Detroit, Michigan, said:

The time has arrived for the American labor movement to face squarely the fact that the negro is a big factor in our industrial life, and that he must be taken into account in the adjustment of our economic differences. Never again can the negro be ignored. Time and time again the selfish masters of industry have used him to batter your organizations to pieces, and, instead of trying to win him over, you have savagely fought him, because they used him as a strikebreaker. But the negro must be made to see the value of organization to himself, and he must be incorporated into and made a part of the great labor movement. It is a stupid policy to try to keep him out. Let us work to shift him from his present unhappy position, where he is despised by the big business element, notwithstanding his utility as a strikebreaker, and hated by unionists for his loyalty to the open shop element. Unionism must welcome the negro to its ranks.

[Footnote 148: Southwestern Christian Advocate, New Orleans, La.]

[Footnote 149: Ibid.]

[Footnote 150: Report of Bishop's Council, A.M.E. Church, 1917.]

[Footnote 151: Report of Proceedings, American Federation of Labor, annual session, 1913.]

[Footnote 152: Report of Proceedings, American Federation of Labor, annual session, 1916.]

[Footnote 153: Report of Proceedings, American Federation of Labor, annual session, 1917.]

[Footnote 154: Minutes of Session, National League on Urban Conditions, January 29-31, 1918.]

[Footnote 155: Report of M.N. Work on migration to the North.]



CHAPTER XIV

PUBLIC OPINION REGARDING THE MIGRATION

It was to be expected that a movement which so profoundly affected the social and economic life of the South would be widely discussed, and that the resulting discussions, wherein were set forth at length the views of whites and negroes, would throw much light upon the conditions existing prior to the movement. How the South viewed this taking away of a large part of her labor supply was stated in letters to the newspapers and in newspaper editorials. There were two views as to the effect of the migration on the South. One view held that the movement would benefit the South in that the negro population would be more evenly distributed over the entire country and as a result the race problem would be more truly national. The other view was that negro labor was a necessity for the South, and the drawing of a considerable part of this labor north was seriously detrimental to the South's economic interests.

The following are examples of expressions by those holding the view that the migration would benefit the South:

The New Orleans Times Picayune said:

Despite the attitude of certain extreme papers of the North that there was a broad conspiracy existing here to prevent the negroes from leaving, the records show that many southern papers and people welcomed the movement, believing that it would have a beneficial effect on the South by removing the negro majorities in many districts and in at least two States, South Carolina and Mississippi. The problems of negro majorities is rapidly working itself out. Louisiana, a State in which the negro was more numerous a few decades ago, is white today by several hundred thousand, and will have a million more whites by the next census. South Carolina and Mississippi expect to report white majorities in the next ten years as they are drifting rapidly in that direction, and negro emigration will help this condition along.

During the first months of this negro movement northward, a number of South Carolina papers, led by the Columbia State, instead of expressing apprehension over these departures, showed satisfaction that the State was getting rid of its excess of negroes. At the Southern Commercial Congress in a session at Norfolk, Judge Francis D. Winston, of North Carolina, expressed this same view of the situation in a resolution which declares that: "The complete industrial, intellectual and social development of the southern States can be secured only when the negro becomes a part of the citizenship of our sister States, and that we will encourage all movements tending to an equitable distribution of our negro population among the other States of the Union.

It is not likely that there will be any serious objection to a declaration of this kind in favor of the more equitable distribution of the negroes throughout the country as the question involved can then be better handled. No encouragement to the negroes to leave the South will be held out, but there will be no effort made to keep the negroes from going beyond explaining the situation to them.[156]

A comment of the Nashville Banner was:

From a logical point of view that looks beyond immediate emergencies, the southern whites should encourage negro emigration to the North, not for the cynical motives that impelled the late Hon. Jeff Davis while Governor of Arkansas to pardon negro convicts on condition that they go to Massachusetts to live, but to relieve the South of the entire burden and all the brunt of the race problem, and make room for and to create greater inducements for white immigration that the South very much needs. Some thousands of negroes going north every year and a corresponding number of whites coming south would affect a distribution of the races that would be in many ways beneficial and that at the very least would take away from the race problem all sectional aspects, which is and has always been the chief cause of sectional ill feeling. And it would in the end give the South a homogeneous citizenship.

The Vicksburg Herald[157] was of the opinion that:

Adjustments and compensation will, we have faith, come. The northern drift as it continues, and carries thousands with it, will lower negro congestion in certain sections of the South. Such a change, restrained and graduated against violent progression, promises ultimate benefit. In the South, the effect of losing thousands of negroes from lands in southern Mississippi is already ... producing a wholesome farm diversification and economic stimulation. Then, too, a more equitable distribution of the sons of Ham will teach the Caucasians of the northern States that wherever there is a negro infusion, there will be a race problem—a white man's burden—which they are destined to share.

Among those holding the view that the South needed the negro was the Memphis Commercial Appeal.[158] Concerning this an editorial in this paper said that not only does the South need the negro, but that he should be encouraged to stay.

The enormous demand for labor and the changing conditions brought about by the boll weevil in certain parts of the South have caused an exodus of negroes which may be serious. Great colonies of negroes have gone north to work in factories, in packing houses and on the railroads.

Some of our friends think that these negroes are being taken north for the purpose of voting them in November. Such is not the case. The restriction of immigration because of the European war and the tremendous manufacturing and industrial activity in the North have resulted in a scarcity of labor. The negro is a good track hand. He is also a good man around packing houses, and in certain elementary trades he is useful.

The South needs every able-bodied negro that is now south of the line, and every negro who remains south of the line will in the end do better than he will do in the North.

The negro has been a tremendous factor in the development of agriculture and all the commerce of the South. But in the meantime, if we are to keep him here, and if we are to have the best use of his business capacity, there is a certain duty that the white man himself must discharge in his relation to the negro.

The business of lynching negroes is bad, and we believe it is declining, but the worst thing is that the wrong negro is often lynched. The negro should be protected in all his legal rights. Furthermore, in some communities, some white people make money at the expense of the negro's lack of intelligence. Unfair dealing with the negro is not a custom in the South. It is not the rule, but here and there the taking of enormous profits from the labor of the negro is known to exist.

It should be so arranged that the negro in the city does not have to raise his children in the alleys and in the streets. Liquor in the cities has been a great curse to negroes. Millions of dollars have been made by no account white people selling no account liquor to negroes and thus making a whole lot of negroes no account. Happily this business is being extinguished.

The negroes who are in the South should be encouraged to remain there, and those white people who are in the boll weevil territory should make every sacrifice to keep their negro labor until there can be adjustments to the new and quickly prosperous conditions that will later exist.

Among those holding the same view that the South needed the negro was the Georgia Enquirer Sun of Columbus, Georgia.[159] An editorial in this paper said that not only does the South need the negro but that he should be encouraged to stay.

The Enquirer Sun further emphasized the fact that the South needs the negro:

With the certainty that a number will differ with us, we state that the negro is an economic necessity to the South. Our plantations are large, our climate is peculiar, and we ourselves are not accustomed to doing the work that we ask the negro to do. Serious labor conditions have confronted us before, and it is exceedingly rare to find the native land owning white farmer, who has been accustomed to employ negro labor, taking the negro's place when the negro leaves his neighborhood. The same conditions exist in the industries where we of the South have been depending upon the negroes as artisans in our industries or mines.

The South has refused to accept immigration as a means of supplying our demands for labor. The farmers stand up and howl about preserving the pure blood of the South and invent all sorts of reasons for prohibiting the immigration of the same classes of people who have been making the North and East rich for years; the same classes that build the eighth wonder of the world—the Middle West. Now, if we are going to prohibit immigration, we must consider the economic status sufficiently seriously to preserve the only reliable supply of labor which we have ever known. That is the negro. We should ponder over the situation seriously and not put off until tomorrow its consideration, because this movement is growing every day. We should exercise our influence with our landlords and our merchants to see that a fairer division of profit is made with the negro and should watch the prices charged him as well as the interest charged him. We should see that the industries offer and pay to him a full and fair wage for his labor which will compare favorably with the wages offered in the East. We should see to it that the police in our towns, cities and counties cease making distinction between the negro and the white man when the negro is not absolutely known to be a criminal. When we do these things, we will keep our labor and we need to keep it.

In connection with the discussion of the need of the South for the negro, the duty of the South to the negro was pointed out. According to the Columbia (S.C.) State:[160]

If the southern white people would have the negroes remain, they must treat the negroes justly. If they refuse to do so their hope of keeping negro labor is in the unwillingness of the North to treat them justly, and we fear that this hope is more substantial than the North likes to admit. Justice ought to be cultivated everywhere for its own sake. Surely common sense will dictate to the South that it ought to forestall the disruption of our industrial establishment by causing negroes to understand that they are safe where they are.

The Macon Telegraph said of negro labor: "If we lose it, we go bankrupt." Yet this same paper only a few months before was advocating the sending of 100,000 negroes into Mexico to conquer the "mongrel breed," and at the same time rid the South of that many worthless negroes.

The black man has no quarrel with the Mexican, but, on the other hand, he certainly has a disagreement with conditions as they affect him in the South, and, when he desires to improve those conditions by getting away from them, he must be checked. Plenty of "sound advice" is given him about staying in the South among his friends and under the same old conditions. The bugaboo of cold weather is put before him to frighten him, of race antagonism and sundry other things, but not one word about better treatment is suggested to lighten the burden, no sane and reasonable remedy offered.

The black labor is the best labor the South can get, no other would work long under the same conditions. It has been faithful and loyal, but that loyalty can be undermined, witness the exodus.

A letter published in the Montgomery Advertiser[161] truly says:

And the negro will not come back once he leaves the South.

The World War is bringing many changes and a chance for the negro to enter broader fields. With the "tempting bait" of higher wages, shorter hours, better schools and better treatment, all the preachments of the so-called race leaders will fall on deaf ears.

It is probable that the "well informed negro," who told the Birmingham editor that it was good schools that were drawing the negro, could have given other and more potent reasons had he been so minded. He could have told how deep down in the negro's heart he has no love for proscription, segregation, lynchings, the petty persecutions and cruelties against him, nor for the arresting of "fifty niggers for what three of 'em done," even if it takes all of this to uphold the scheme of civilization.

From Savannah alone, three thousand negroes went, from sixteen year old boys to men of sixty years. There must be something radically wrong when aged negroes are willing to make the change. There is greater unrest among negroes than those in high places are aware.

Let the Advertiser speak out in the same masterful way, with the same punch and pep for a square deal for the negro, that it does for democracy and the right for local self-government.

What was the attitude of the northern whites toward the migration? Although the North had been accustomed to the adding of a million foreigners annually to her population, these newcomers were white people and as such did not occasion the comment or create just the problems which a large influx of negroes created. The migration of the negro attracted a great deal of public attention. A wide and extended discussion of the movement was carried on through the press. The attitude which the white people assumed toward the migrants was expressed in this discussion.

The New Republic of New York City[162] pointed out that the movement gave the negro a chance and that he, the South and the nation, would in the end, all be gainers.

When Austria found the Serbian reply inadmissible, the American negro, who had never heard of Count Berchtold, and did not care whether Bosnia belonged to Austria or Siam, got his "chance." It was not the sort of chance that came to the makers of munitions—a chance to make millions. It was merely a widening of a very narrow foothold on life, a slightly better opportunity to make his way in the industrial world of America.

In the beginning such a migration of negroes would increase the present race friction in the North. Within certain limits a racial minority is unpopular directly in proportion to its numbers. Only as it increases to the point where political and economic power makes it formidable, does it overcome opposition. The negro's competition for jobs and homes will probably exacerbate relations. As the negroes increased in numbers they would not only seek menial and unskilled work, but also strive to enter skilled trades where they would meet with antagonism of white workers. Moreover, the negroes would be forced to seek homes in what are now regarded as "white" neighborhoods, and a clamor would be raised at each new extension of their dwelling area.

The antidote to persecution, however, is power, and if the northern negroes are more numerous and more urgently needed in our industrial life, they could protect themselves from the worst forms of discrimination. If by 1930 the negro population of the North has become three millions, instead of the fraction over one million which it is today, and if these three millions live better and save and spend more per capita than today, they will profit more than they will lose from their greater numbers. Their custom will be more valuable, their political power greater and, as wage earners, they will be strong enough to strike. Once they have completely filled a new neighborhood, opposition will cease. Moreover, the industrial competition with white workmen, while severe at certain crucial points, should not permanently be dangerous, since the very conditions which bring the negro north also make for higher wages for the white workers. What the white wage earner desires is not an industrial exploitation of the negro, but the maintenance of the white man's superiority of position.

For the nation as a whole, such a gradual dissemination of the negroes among all the States would ultimately be of real advantage. If at the end of half a century, only 50 or 60 per cent, instead of 89 per cent of the negroes, were congregated in the southern States, it would end the fear of race domination, and take from the South many of its peculiar characteristics, which today hamper development. To the negro it would be of even more obvious benefit. The race would be far better educated, considerably richer, and with greater political power. Success for the negroes of the North would mean better conditions for southern negroes. For if the southern negro, finding political and social conditions intolerable, were able to emigrate to the North, he would have in his hand a weapon as effective as any he could find in the ballot box.

The Oshkosh, Wisconsin, Daily Northwestern felt that a large influx of colored people would bring to the North the same perplexing problems that long have disturbed the people of the southern States.

This, in fact, is the most serious aspect of this reported migration of southern blacks, and it is suggestive of no end of trouble for some of the northern States, which heretofore have regarded the so-called negro problem as something which little concerns them. The South has struggled for years to solve this problem, with its many phases and angles, and never yet has found a satisfactory solution. Should the same baffling questions be forced on the North it would give the people something to think about, and many will gain a new appreciation of the perplexities of the southern whites. And the necessity of facing this new problem may come to the North much sooner than generally is expected.

The Springfield, Massachusetts, Union[163] was also of the opinion that:

The North has been strong for the negro, considered as a political entity, but our communities are manifestly not desirous of supplying a field for him to expand and adapt himself to the social structure, and their leaders experience more difficulty in this regard than do their co-laborers in the South, with its vast colored population. This in itself furnished food for careful thought.

In a way, there is justification for a disinclination on the part of New Englanders to add a large negro element to their number. We have enough of a problem already to absorb and educate the large alien element that has come into our midst from the Old World. Our duty toward our colored residents should not go unrecognized, and the first step toward a just and fair disposal of related problems is to admit frankly that a rather strict color line is being drawn among us.

The Beloit, Wisconsin, News[164] held that the migration had brought the negro problem north and made it national:

The negro problem has moved north. Rather, the negro problem has spread from south to north; and beside it in the South is appearing a stranger to that clime—the labor problem.

It's a double development brought about by the war in Europe, and the nation has not yet realized its significance. Within a few years, experts predict the negro population of the North will be tripled. It's your problem, then, or it will be when the negro moves next door.

Italians and Greeks are giving way to the negroes in the section gangs along northern railroads, as you can see from the train windows, and as labor agents admit. Northern cities that had only small colored populations are finding their "white" sections invaded by negro families, strangers to the town. Many cities are in for the experience that has befallen all communities on the edge of the North and South—gradual encroachment of colored folks on territory occupied by whites; depreciation in realty values and lowering of rents, and finally, moving of the white families to other sections, leaving the districts in possession of colored families with a small sprinkling of whites.

This means racial resentment—for the white family that moves to escape negro proximity always carries, justly or not, a prejudice against the black race. It hits your pocket too.

Negroes will enter trades now monopolized by white men, at first, perhaps, as strike breakers; later, as non-union competitors, working for smaller wages. It will take some time, probably, to get them into the labor unions' way of thinking.

Politicians, both good and bad, will seek the ballot of a large new element, which will vote largely in the lump. Now, what will be the effect in the southern States? Already the offers of better jobs further north have caused strikes among southern negroes—something almost unheard of. The South gets no immigration, but the negro has been an ever present source of cheap labor. With the black tide setting north, the southern negro, formerly a docile tool, is demanding better pay, better food and better treatment. And no longer can the South refuse to give it to him. For when the South refuses the negro moves away. It's a national problem now, instead of a sectional problem. And it has got to be solved.

The New York Globe[165] said that:

For more than a year a migration of men and women of color to northern States has been going on that has already deprived thousands of southern farmers of cheap labor. And the movement bids fair to continue. That it will have both good and bad effects is obvious. It will distribute the negro population more evenly throughout the States and thus tend to diminish race friction. But unless there is a change of spirit on the part of northern unions, it will increase the danger of labor troubles in case of industrial depression.

The Pittsburgh Dispatch[166] held that the migration was helping the negro. It was of the opinion that:

This movement eastward and westward of unskilled negro labor will both directly and indirectly help the negro. The younger element, those of ambition and of some training in the schools, will be constantly emerging from unskilled to the semiskilled classes, with a consequent increase in their pay rolls and a betterment in their methods of living.

A decidedly better treatment of the negro, both in the North and the South, will grow out of the fact that the demand for his labor has been limited and the supply unlimited.

In the spring of 1918 the Walla Walla, Washington, Bulletin[167] summed up the situation thus:

There was much alarm a year or two ago over the migration of negroes to the North in large numbers. It was felt that they had far better stay in the South, in a familiar and congenial environment, and keep on raising cotton and food, than crowd into the inhospitable North for unaccustomed factory work. We have heard less of that lately; it is still doubtful whether the change is good for the negro himself, and there's no question that his coming has complicated housing conditions and social problems in northern cities. But economically the matter appears in a new light. At a time when war industries were starving for labor, the negro provided the labor. He is recognized as a new industrial asset.

The migration has been unfortunate, to be sure, for the communities thus deprived of agricultural labor; but it is said that from a broad, national standpoint the gain to the manufacturing industries more than compensates. And there has been an actual increase in the output of energy. The negro works harder in the North. He produces more. He is thus of more use to the community. And for the benefit he brings, communities are more willing than they were at first to tolerate the inconvenience due to his coming.

Some of the negro newspapers opposed the migration. Prominent among these was the Journal and Guide of Norfolk, Virginia, and the Voice of the People of Birmingham, Alabama. In speaking against the migration, the Journal and Guide[168] said:

It is difficult, if not impossible, to check the operation of an economic law, and it is perfectly natural that men should seek fields of labor in which they are promised higher wages and better conditions, but those who go and those who encourage the going of them should get the facts of the so-called inducements and learn the truth about them before lending their influence to a movement that can not only promise no permanent good to laborers, but works untold injury to the foundation of their own economic structure.

Another phase of the matter, and one that invites the condemnation of all honest persons, is the manner in which negro labor is at present exploited to satisfy the selfish whims of a group of misguided and ill-advised agitators and fanatics on the race question. All of the nice talk about "fleeing from southern oppression," and going where "equal rights and social privileges" await them is pure buncombe. It is strange that negro labor should stand the oppression of the South for fifty years and suddenly make up its mind to move northward as an evidence of its resentment.

The truth of the matter is that the element of negroes in the South that feel the oppression most is not concerned in the migration movement. Nor are they going to leave their homes and accumulations of half a century as a solution of their problems. They are going to remain here and fight out their constitutional rights accorded them here in the land of their birth.

The editor of The Star of Zion, Charlotte, North Carolina,[169] conceded the right of the negro to go wherever he had opportunity to go; on the other hand, it was doubtful whether a wholesale exodus was for the best. He said:

While I concede the black man's right to go where he likes, for he has the right of liberty and the pursuit of happiness, yet I doubt the wisdom of such wholesale exodus from the South. There are some things which the negro needs far more than his wages, or some of the rights for which he contends. He needs conservation of his moral life.

In the North a negro is brought face to face with new problems; among the many is the problem of adjusting himself to the abundance of freedom into which he comes so suddenly. His new freedom brings him new changes, as well as new opportunities, for among the roses there lies the thorn.... While the inducements of the North are very alluring, in the end the negro problem must be wrought out in the South.

Concerning the Journal and Guide's position, the Raleigh, North Carolina, Independent[170] took issue and said:

Our disagreement with our estimable contemporary, the Norfolk Journal and Guide, we are persuaded, is far less real than seeming. Essentially we are in accord. We are certain that the Journal and Guide is not advocating the limitation of the negro to any one section of the country. If the exigencies of the present war have created a demand for his labor in the North at better wages than he can secure in the South like other people, he should take advantage of it and plant himself firmly in the industrial life of the section.

There are two ways by which we may improve our condition in this country. The one is segregation—voluntary segregation. The other is "scatteration." If we can come together, build up communities of our own, promote them into towns and even cities, we shall do well. If, on the other hand, we shall scatter all over the land and have nowhere a numerical congestion, we strengthen our cause.

The Dallas (Texas) Express[171] said:

The strangest thing, the real mystery about the exodus, is that in all the Southland there has not been a single meeting or promoter to start the migration. Just simultaneously all over the South about a year ago, the negro began to cross the Mason and Dixon line. Indeed, this is a most striking case where the negro has been doing a great deal more thinking than talking, knowing he is not given the freedom of speech. Who knows, then, what the providence of God is in this exodus. This exodus is not by any means confined to the worthless or the ignorant negro. A large per cent of the young negroes in this exodus are rather intelligent. Many of the business houses in Houston, Dallas and Galveston, where the exodus is greatest in Texas, have lost some of their best help. To tell the truth more fully, the negroes generally throughout the South are more dissatisfied with conditions than they have been for several years and there are just reasons why they should be. Every negro newspaper and publication in this broad land, including pamphlets and books, and the intelligent negro pastor with backbone and courage are constantly protesting against the injustices done the negro. And possibly these agents have been the greatest incentives to help create and crystallize this unrest and migration.

How the negro should be treated and what would hold him in the South was discussed at length and on many occasions in the columns of the Atlanta (Georgia) Independent.[172] An example of this discussion follows:

Last week we discussed at length the negro exodus. We tried to point out in plain, simple and manly language the reason and remedy for moving north. We warned our white neighbors that city ordinances and legislation could not stem the tide; that humane treatment would do more to settle the negro's industrial and economic unrest than anything else; that the South was his natural home and he desired to stay here; but in order to keep him at home he must have contentment; he had to be assured of protection of life and property; assured of the enjoyment of public utilities; assured of educational advantages, ample and adequate, to prepare his children for useful and helpful citizenship; he must be permitted to serve God unmolested and to assemble in the community where he lives, in church, in society and politics; for his own moral, intellectual and physical benefit he must be given living wages and reminded in his daily dealings with his white neighbor that he is a citizen, not a negro, and that he is charged with responsibilities like other citizens. The negro is conscious of his racial identity and not ashamed of it. He is proud of his race and his color, but does not like to have the word "negro" define his relation as a citizen. The white man should understand that the negro is making progress; that he is getting property and education; that his wants are increasing in common with the white man's wants and that he is not going to be bottled up or hemmed up in any community, so long as there is another community on the face of the earth where he can breathe freely and enjoy the pursuits of life, liberty and happiness in common with other men.

The Christian Index[173] the official organ of the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church, published at Jackson, Tennessee, was of the opinion that:

There are two sets of causes for the negro leaving the South at this time. One set may be known as the surface causes and the other set beneath-the-surface causes. The surface causes are easily seen and understood. These are economic causes. The war in Europe has called home foreigners out of the industrial centers of the North and West. These large factories and other industrial enterprises, representing enormous investments, had to turn in some other direction for labor. These large industrial opportunities with higher wages made strong appeals to the southern negro.

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