1940s >> 1949 >> no-533-january-1949

Race-Prejudice in Washington D. C.

One of the chapters in our pamphlet, “The Racial Problem,” deals with race-prejudice in the United States. In this chapter, as an example of the fantastic and utterly stupid lengths to which race-prejudice can take some human beings, we refer to the fact that, in certain parts of the U.S.A., there are separate cemeteries for Whites and Negroes.

It now appears that we were not ridiculous enough. From the Manchester Guardian (11/12/19*8) we learn that in Washington D.C. a cemetery for dogs has refused to bury dogs belonging to coloured people!

This masterpiece of stupidity is one of the items mentioned in a report on race-prejudice in, of all places, the District of Columbia, which is Federal Territory, contains Washington, the capital and centre of State power, and is itself under the direct control and administration of the U.S. Government! After alleging that the Government itself is a chief offender and that “Its practice of systematically denying Negroes equal employment opportunities sets a bad example,” the report is further quoted by the Manchester Guardian as follows:

   “Sharing the blame, says the report, are Congressmen who champion ‘white supremacy’ and real estate, commercial, and financial interests which consider segregation is a ‘matter of good business.’ Discrimination against Negroes in Washington, the report says, is now more widespread than it was five years ago. Segregation is practised not only in hotels, theatres, restaurants, and housing developments, but in Government posts and even in churches, schools, and hospitals.
“The largest churches, Protestant and Catholic alike, followed a policy of discouraging attendance by Negroes. ‘The exclusion of Negro Catholics from white-Catholic churches is one of the most disturbing aspects of segregation,’ the report said. It also claimed that Negro doctors could attend patients in only one local hospital, and the schools for coloured children were inferior to those for the whites.
“It said that 260,000 Negroes—about one-third of the population of Washington—were crowded together in ‘black belts’ which had become some of the ugliest slums in the country. Because of these conditions, a Negro living in Washington had an expectation of life 12 years less than that of a white person.”

A copy of the report, says the Guardian finally, has been sent to President Truman, who has promised to read “with close attention” this account of the racial discrimination prevalent on his own back doorstep.

Stan Hampson