Viewing page 15 of 21
It looks like you're using a mobile device. We recommend using a physical keyboard for transcription entry.
child on his shoulders. He was never too busy to return a child's warm smile. I remember our first "date" and how he fell asleep in the movies before we had hardly settled in our seats. He often told our daughters of this meeting and that it seemed we had known each other a lifetime. A Cherished Letter After our brief meeting in Nashville, we began to write each other frequently. A letter which I read many times these days, one of my most cherished possessions, is one on the the stationery of the Tobacco Stemmers and Laborers Industrial Union. Jack wrote, "Already I have missed the glorious Fish hospitality and most especially your contribution to the joyous stay I had there. Of all the happy memories of my trip my acquaintance with you will stand out in bold outline--a native unselfishness, a will to serve and to sacrifice, an ardent devotion to our cause, symbolized in the youthful beauty of a charming lady--and that's Ester to me." Our courtship continued through the mails. We exchanged gifts, somehow always remembering the holidays that we had been too busy to observe before. Already a part of many student activities, I moved to Birmingham and joined the staff of the Southern Negro Youth Congress and at the following convention was elected one of the officers. In 1941 Jack and I married and made our home in Birmingham for the next six years. It was in that steel city of the deep South in 1943 that our first daughter, Harriet Dolores, was born. We named her for the heroic woman fighter, Harriet Tubman. Our friends and associates shared the many grueling experiences and triumphs of years of struggle on a multitude of issues in the Southern Negro Youth Congress. There in the very depths of the Klan-ridden, Jim Crow Southland we fought upon the very front lines of the southern people's fight for the vote, peace, jobs and democracy. The fact that salaries were small and irregular never once dampened our spirits or blunted the ardor of our enthusiasm. The energy that was poured into the cause of building the fighting unity and leading in the people's struggles came from the people themselves. 26 [[end page]] [[start page]] World War II Speeches and Letters The outbreak of the anti-Hitler war found the SNYC in the forefront of the fight to rally Negro youth to the support of that just cause. At the same time the organization led a skillful, persistent, and militant struggle against all features of the Jim Crow system which handicapped Negro youth in making their fullest contribution to the patriotic work of defeating the fascists. In a speech delivered at Madison Square Garden at the Negro Freedom Rally in New York City (June 7, 1943), my husband declared, "We must unite our forces and mobilize the labor movement in support of the revitalized FEPC for the full enforcement of the President's Executive Order #8802 as recently amended. We must urge upon our agencies and the labor movement to conduct an intensive educational program among the masses of the white people of the South for the support of the citizenship rights of the Negro people. We must demand of the Department of Justice that it act with boldness and dispatch to destroy the nest of the fermenters of hatred against Negroes. We must insist that all patriotic forces actively crusade for favorable Senate action on the anti-poll tax bill, in order to restore the cardinal right of citizenship to the southern people. Once this is done the southern people may be depended upon to free themselves and the nation of the plague of the poll tax bourbons in the halls of Congress...." The common, as well as the special war aims, victory goals and objectives of Negro youth were probably best articulated in a ringing "Proclamation of Southern Negro Youth" which my husband wrote for the SNYC. This document was reproduced and distributed in hundreds of thousands of copies by the government's Office of Facts and Figures. In 1943 my husband entered the Army and served overseas in the Chine-Burma-India Theatre of operations for some 18 months. His letters to me and to others, commenting on the war, the struggles of the colonial people to throw off their oppressors and the determination of his own, the Negro people, to win democracy in its fullest meaning, indicate the great contribution which my husband could today be making toward America's advancement, were it not for the mad hysteria and war drive which grip our country. 27
Please note that the language and terminology used in this collection reflects the context and culture of the time of its creation, and may include culturally sensitive information. As an historical document, its contents may be at odds with contemporary views and terminology. The information within this collection does not reflect the views of the Smithsonian Institution, but is available in its original form to facilitate research. For questions or comments regarding sensitive content, access, and use related to this collection, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.