Scope and arrangement
The BLACKS IN THE RAILROAD INDUSTRY Collection, 1946-1954) is comprised of a variety of materials documenting the struggle of black railroad employees against ouster from the industry by the collusive actions of the companies and the unions. While provenance seems to be uncertain, holograph notes on many of the documents appear to have been done by Robert Wood, editor of THE RAILROAD WORKERS' LINK, a newspaper published by the Railroad Committee of the Communist Party. In addition, the few original items in the collection are addressed specifically to him or to the LINK.
The papers have been divided into six series: CORRESPONDENCE, UNIONS AND UNION-RELATED ORGANIZATIONS, WRITINGS, LEGAL DOCUMENTS, MEMORANDA, AND PRINTED MATERIAL. The collection does not form a cohesive unit; rather it is an artificial collection of materials seemingly gathered for research and information purposes. It has, therefore, been organized by subject or type of document; within that sequence the papers have been arranged chronologically.
The Blacks in the railroad industry collection is arranged in six series:
- 1949-1950, undated
The CORRESPONDENCE file is composed of a miscellaneous group of letters to and from various individuals. The majority of the letters are mimeographed and were intended for wide dissemination. One of these is a letter from Archibald Bromsen stating the Federation of Southern Colored Locomotive Firemen Unions' position on the proposal by the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen to modify the 1941 Southeastern Carriers Conference Agreement. The letter is accompanied by a copy of the agreement. Also, in this file is a typed copy of a speech by Charles H. Houston which was sent to Wood with a cover letter from Henry Lee Moon's secretary. The speech, entitled “The Legal Struggle for Protection of Minority Workers' Rights on American Railroads” was presented at the 1949 annual conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Included in the UNIONS AND UNION-RELATED ORGANIZATIONS series are documents from the Negro Railway Labor Executives Committee, the Railroad Employees Association Against Discrimination, and the United Transport Service Employees. There are also several membership rosters from the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, a few black lodges affiliated with the Brotherhood of Railway Carmen of America, an unidentified union or unions of black dining car employees, and both black and white union members under the jurisdiction of the Congress of Industrial Organizations.
WRITINGS consists of an untitled thirty-six page typed draft of an article with editorial corrections and additions in what is assumed to be Robert Wood's handwriting. The draft may have been written by Wood, however, clear authorship is uncertain as Wood's name as the author has been crossed out. The subject of the typescript is the role played by the all-white railroad unions in excluding blacks from the railroad industry by forcing the railroads through strike threats and contract clauses to either fire or not hire blacks.
The LEGAL DOCUMENTS folder contains a carbon copy of a motion filed by Charles H. Houston, Joseph C. Waddy and Oliver W. Hill in the case of Willie J. Rolex et al versus the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad Company (ACLRC) et al. The document, a motion for an “injunction pendente lite,” was directed at enjoining the ACLR and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen from enforcing the Southeastern Carriers Conference Agreement of 1941. Attached to the motion are several affidavits and the points and authorities in support of the motion.
PRINTED MATERIAL consists of a pamphlet, newspapers, fact sheets, press releases, and clippings. The pamphlet, Let Freedom Ride The Railswas published in 1954 by the National Negro Labor Council. It briefly covers the 1943 Fair Employment Practices Committee hearings on the railroad industry, the employment status of black workers, the role of the railroads, the unions, and the Federal government in denying employment opportunities to blacks, as well as the efforts of blacks in seeking redress of their grievances through the courts, and the National Negro Labor Council's program of action.
The newspapers include three complete issues of the Negro Railway Labor News (1948-1950) and one complete issue each of The Railroad Workers' Link (July 1950) and The Black Worker (April 1949). Because the latter two were single issues only, they have been filed with the Press Releases and Newspaper Clippings.This series also contains clippings from those and other black newspapers, in addition to several clippings from the Railroad Workers' Page of the Daily Worker, 1949-1950.