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a segregated basis.33 TheAssociation’s hostility continued undiminished even after the camp had opened. In March  Walter White donated $. to the fund for the erection of the Moton Memorial Gates at the base, but he made it clear that this was solely a mark of his respect for the late Tusgekee principal Dr. Robert Russa Moton. His donation was “not in any way an expression of approval of the segregated Army Primary Flying Field to which the gates give entrance.”34 The presence of military bases in Alabama clearly constituted a source of potential new members for the NAACP. Recurring conflicts and tensions between African American servicemen and both the military authorities and civilian communities also highlighted the need for an effective local Association organization. In  the NAACP investigated an incident near Tuskegee in which an African American army nurse, Nora Green, was badly beaten and then put in jail by a white policeman. The case was closed when Green was persuaded to drop all charges against the officer in return for an agreement that no further legal action would be taken against her. The army sought to conceal all details of the incident and quickly assigned Green to service overseas.35 In  reports of the ill treatment of African American servicemen in a military base near Ozark acted as a catalyst for the formation of an NAACP branch in the town.36 The worst problems appear to have been at the Brookley Field military base near Mobile. In August  John LeFlore convened an NAACP mass meeting in the local African American community following the murder of a black serviceman stationed at the base, Henry Williams, by a Mobile bus driver. The killing marked the culmination of a series of racial incidents on city bus routes. In an initiative that bore striking similarities to the more-celebrated Montgomery protest thirteen years later Le Flore threatened a bus boycott campaign unless the principal demands made at the meeting were met. These included provisions requiring the immediate disarming of all bus drivers, the employment of African American drivers on predominantly black routes,and a requirement that drivers be required to show equal courtesy to all passengers regardless of race. The situation was defused when the bus company agreed to meet most of these conditions and the threatened boycott was called off.37 The peaceful resolution of the  incident notwithstanding, the  KEVERN VERNEY 1VERNEY_pages:Layout 1 10/7/09 11:54 AM Page 116 presence of the Brookley base continued to be a source of racial tensions for the remainder of the war. In  Le Flore reported to the NAACP national office on the “deplorable conditions” endured by African American servicemen at Brookley Field and also wrote letters of complaint to the War Department. The state of affairs at the base became so bad that in one confrontation a gunfight broke out between some thirty African American soldiers and white military police officers . The military authorities hastily intervened to hush up the details of the affair.38 The planned bus boycott of  reflected the fact that the NAACP branch in Mobile became increasingly active in areas of concern to the wider black community in this period, including labor-related issues. In  Roosevelt’s executive order ,creating a federal Fair Employment Practices Committee to counter racial discrimination in the defense industries, ensured that in Alabama, as elsewhere, there was a continuing focus by the NAACP on employment-related issues,despite the winding up of New Deal agencies at the end of the s. This was particularly the case in Mobile, which became a national center for shipbuilding,holding more than $ million in defense contracts during the war years, as the city’s population rose from , in  to , by . Although whites made up most of the newcomers Mobile’s black population also rose sharply,from , in  to around , by . The local Alabama Dry Dock and Ship building Company grew from being a struggling yard with fewer than , workers to a major war production plant with a workforce of some ,, which included some , African Americans.39 This inevitably resulted in racial tensions, even though all the black workers were employed as unskilled labor. In  an unsuccessful Klaninspired strike at the yard sought to expel all African American employees.In May  the company’s upgrading of twelve black workers to welding jobs, in compliance with an FEPC directive, led to a riot at the plant with white employees attacking black coworkers. John LeFlore, as the leading...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781610752466
Print ISBN
9781557289094
MARC Record
OCLC
769187834
Pages
330
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-11
Language
English
Open Access
N
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