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Blacks, Unions, & Organizing in the South, 1956-1996


Compiled by Rudolph Lewis



Reuther's Southern Strategy


Victor Riesel Sees Political Plot

Reuther Draws Bead on South

(ca. 1956)


New YorkWalter Reuther is out to split the Democratic Party. He said he and his aides are now polishing up plans to provoke southern delegates into walking out from the nominating convention in Chicago in August and then from the party itself.

This tactic was seriously discussed in Washington at a series of private gabfests during the unions recent three-day "educational Conference' which was virtually turned into a Democratic Party forum.

It is a maneuver designed to give Reuther and his colleagues, who already influence important sections of the party, still greater power within the organization. If successful, the Reuther plan could reshape the entire political picture of the country within the next five years.

This splitting scheme is similar to one advocated by a coalition of CIO leaders and top officials of the Americans for Democratic Action four years ago.

They would have pressed for it at the 1952 nominating convention but Reuther felt that the time was not ripe then for such action. At the last minute he and his advisers decided to ride with the regulars in the Democratic Party.

Now, the Reutherites believe the atmosphere is right for this daring political venture. They are convinced that the violent arguments raging over the racial question have provided them with the chance to push their plan and consolidate their influence in the Democratic set-up.

Reuther has told intimates that he believes the Negroes will vote Republican right now. He is convinced that only a very bold and dramatic move to isolate the Dixiecrats can swing the powerful Negro vote to the Democrats. He is equally convinced that this vote is enough to carry the ticket against Ike and Nixon or any other GOP candidates.

The peppery Detroiterrecently hailed as "Presidential timber" during his whirlwind whistle-stop tour of India where he made 116 speecheshas painstakingly prepared his plan and has come up with facts and figures to prove that his scheme is no political pipe dream.

He and his advisers are ready to write off Virginia, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, and Louisiana. More than that, they are anxious for Democratic Party regulars in those states to bolt.

They plan to give them a push toward the exits by fighting for an ultra-militant plank on civil rightsso hot that the southerners cannot go along with it. And don't think that they lack either the 'savvy' or the strength to do just that.

The old CIO unionsbut especially Reuther's Auto Workerswill march into the Chicago nominating convention with large batches of votes from Michigan, Pennsylvania, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Wisconsin and Connecticut.

In many delegations they will be the controlling force. And with the huge amounts of money and manpower at their disposal for campaign purposes, they can influence much additional support.

"They are saying that the Democrats can win without the South. They figure that they can count on 244 electoral votes from 16 states which have Democratic governors.

This includes Texas which they are convinced will not bolt. This is based on their belief that the anti-Gov. Shiver forcesled by Sam Rayburn and Lyndon Johnsonwill win Texas and will refuse to bolt with the solid bloc of deep southern states.

All they need to win, after that, according to the Reutherites' theory, are the 25 electoral votes from California or Illinois.

In both of these states the Negro vote could be the difference between victory and defeat. Reuther believes his plan will swing the vote to the Democrats, who will gain stature by dumping the southern segregationists.

The labor people are prepared to spend more time, money and manpower in this effort than ever before in the history of their participation in national politics.

If the Reuther people can succeed in putting this project acrossand especially if the Democrats win in '56they will be the greatest power in the Democratic Party, North and South.

For once the southern Democrats bolt, the unionists will inherit the formal party machinery which will give them votes in future conventions. They will be in the position of southern Republicans at GOP conventionswith votes to cast even though they have no real membership behind them.

With this tremendous influence as a lever, Reuther and his cohorts will be able to utilize the Democratic Party to push labor candidates locally and nationally. And when national political recognition comes, can Reuther be far behind.

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Putting the World Together

My Father Walter Reuther, The Liberal Warrior

By Elisabeth Reuther Dickmeyer

A memoir about growing up with labor legend and social visionary, Walter Reuther, by his youngest daughter, Elisabeth. It is also a history of the UAW with Walter Reuther at the helm, and the monumental social impact he had on America and the world. The book dispels the conservative propaganda that liberals are bad for America. In contrast it tells how one of our nation's greatest liberal and moral leaders created pensions and health care for workers, during World War II gave FDR the plan to turn Detroit's auto plants into manufacturing of planes and tanks, thus creating the Arsenal of Democracy, co-founded the United Way with Henry Ford II, marched side-by-side with Martin Luther King, Jr., during all great civil rights struggles of the 50s and 60s, was the first to give aid to Cesar Chavez and the migrant farm workers, gave President John F. Kennedy the plan that became the Peace Corps, gave the seed money for the first Earth Day, and at the time of his untimely death in a mysterious plane crash was leading the effort for national health care insurance for every American.

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*   *   *   *   *'s 25 Best Selling Books



#1 - Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark
#2 - Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree
#3 - Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane
#4 - Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper
#5 - Stackin' Paper 2 Genesis' Payback by Joy King
#6 - Thug Lovin' (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark
#7 - When I Get Where I'm Going by Cheryl Robinson
#8 - Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby
#9 - The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 - Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 - Don't Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 - For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 - For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 - Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 - Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 - Purple Panties: An Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 - Stackin' Paper by Joy King

#20 - Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 - The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 - Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 - Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 - I Dreamt I Was in Heaven - The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter


#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
#2 - Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans
#3 - Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane
#4 - Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper
#5 - Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You're Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant
#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
#23 - Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul by Tom Lagana
#24 - 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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To the Mountaintop

My Journey Through the Civil Rights Movement

By Charlayne Hunter-Gault

A personal history of the civil rights movement from activist and acclaimed journalist Charlayne Hunter-Gault. On January 20, 2009, 1.8 million people crowded the grounds of the Capitol to witness the inauguration of Barack Obama. Among the masses was Charlayne Hunter-Gault. She had flown from South Africa for the occasion, to witness what was for many the culmination of the long struggle for civil rights in the United States. In this compelling personal history, she uses the event to look back on her own involvement in the civil rights movement, as one of two black students who forced the University of Georgia to integrate, and to relate the pivotal events that swept the South as the movement gathered momentum through the early 1960s. With poignant black-and-white photos, original articles from the New York Times, and a unique personal viewpoint, this is a moving tribute to the men and women on whose shoulders Obama stood.

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Salvage the Bones

A Novel by Jesmyn Ward

On one level, Salvage the Bones is a simple story about a poor black family that’s about to be trashed by one of the most deadly hurricanes in U.S. history. What makes the novel so powerful, though, is the way Ward winds private passions with that menace gathering force out in the Gulf of Mexico. Without a hint of pretension, in the simple lives of these poor people living among chickens and abandoned cars, she evokes the tenacious love and desperation of classical tragedy. The force that pushes back against Katrina’s inexorable winds is the voice of Ward’s narrator, a 14-year-old girl named Esch, the only daughter among four siblings. Precocious, passionate and sensitive, she speaks almost entirely in phrases soaked in her family’s raw land. Everything here is gritty, loamy and alive, as though the very soil were animated. Her brother’s “blood smells like wet hot earth after summer rain. . . . His scalp looks like fresh turned dirt.” Her father’s hands “are like gravel,” while her own hand “slides through his grip like a wet fish,” and a handsome boy’s “muscles jabbered like chickens.” Admittedly, Ward can push so hard on this simile-obsessed style that her paragraphs risk sounding like a compost heap, but this isn’t usually just metaphor for metaphor’s sake. .—WashingtonPost

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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update 5 March 2012




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