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Scripto | Transcribe Page
Hampton Negro Conference. Number III. July 1899.
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We have letters from Mr. F. P. Sargent of the Firemen, Mr. P. H. Morrissey of the Railway Trainmen and Mr. W. V. Powell of the Railway Telegraphers, saying that the constitutions of their organizations exclude colored men. Mr. Clark, of the Conductors, writes that the constitution is silent on the subject but he adds that he is satisfied it would be impossible for one to be admitted.
We have read with profound regret of efforts being made to drive the colored firemen off the locomotives in the South, simply because they are colored. The committee have seen some very bitter and unfair articles written with this purpose in view. Let us hope that such an unfair war on colored labor will not succeed. The labor leaders of the entire country who believe in fair play ought to call a halt on this kind of labor warefare. Instead of driving the colored firemen off their engines they ought to organize them.
These railway unions are not affiliated with the Federation of Labor and could not be received as long as their constitutions bar colored craftsmen. In these days of gigantic pools and combinations of capital and labor, it would seem as though the time will soon come when they will be forced to go into the Federation. Then they will be compelled to erase the color line from their constitutions, if not from their practice.
If we except the railway unions, the constitutions and laws of all national trade and labor organizations affiliated with the American Federation and the Knights of Labor, and all the intelligent leaders of the labor movement , favor the admission of colored workmen and fair treatment of them. But the rank and file, especially in the border slave states and in the South, are blindly opposed to it on account of color prejudice. Each union has the right to manage its own affairs. Neither the National Union nor the Federation can make the white man of a local accept a colored brother and treat him fairly, if the sentiment in the local union is against the colored brother.
The Committee believe that it is to the best interest of the colored workmen to attach themselves in some way and as soon as possible to this labor movement. The subject should be carefully studied in each locality and some action taken in the line of organization. To attempt to ignore this great social movement will be suicidal. The interests of the colored and the white workman are identical. Both must be made to see this. It will be disastrous to organized labor to allow the 9,000,000 colored people of this country to be played off against them and to be
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