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field secretaries, to revitalize the branch. They soon saw success in this regard, bringing Detroit’s membership numbers up to compete with the largest branches in the nation.However,they faced more significant problems in encouraging the branch to adopt a more confrontational and radical stance to race relations in the city—and in particular with regard to the fraught question of organized labor. To achieve this, the national officers returned to the strategy of the early s, cultivating informal ties to more radical figures in the city in order to encourage the branch to lend its support to the UnitedAutomobileWorkers’organizing drive in the car factories of the city.40 The revitalization of the Detroit branch owed much to the intervention of the national office. Blount had been heavily involved in the ineffectual presidency of Moses Walker—he had been branch secretary for a time in the early s—and little changed immediately after his election. Indeed Walter White continued to maintain his informal connection to Snow Grigsby and the DCRC well into Blount’s presidency . When Grigsby wrote to White in November  to let him know that the DCRC had “started out on a crusade” to make the Detroit NAACP branch act to pressure Municipal Hospital to employ African American nurses,White replied that he was“delighted to know that the Branch is working on the City Welfare Commission.”41 The critical change came with a visit by the national field secretary, Daisy Lampkin, to the city to assist a membership drive in the summer of . It was a mark of how bad relations between the branch and the national office had got that even her visit was controversial—William Pickens complained to White that “we had to contend to get Mrs. Lampkin invited for June campaign . . . [because] they fear that with a national officer on hand,they cannot so easily hold back national office share of funds.”42 However, once there she was able to achieve significant success,writing toWhite in June that she had raised nearly $,.43 Two months laterWilliam Pickens could write with confidence that“the [Detroit] branch has a good membership now.” 44 This limited success in  created significant momentum behind the branch, which the national office sustained both by sending Daisy Lampkin back to the city in  and  and by holding the Association ’s annual conference for  in the city. In his welcoming address to the conference the branch secretary, Dr. James J. McClendon, was  PATRICK FLACK 1VERNEY_pages:Layout 1 10/7/09 11:54 AM Page 164 able to boast of a branch with almost three thousand members, and the same year the branch contributed over $, on its apportionment of $,.45 As much as the conference reflected the progress the branch was making, and the importance of the national office to that renaissance, it also highlighted the significant differences of opinion between the two organizations with regard to strategy.As Meier and Rudwick have observed, by  the national office and Walter White in particular were convinced of the need for African American workers to cooperate with the newly active labor unions.46 This issue was especially pertinent in Detroit, where the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO)-affiliated United Automobile Workers (UAW) was making a concerted effort to mobilize the automobile plants,an objective which would be impossible without the support of African American workers in the industry. To this end, White invited a group of union delegates , including the president of the UAW, Homer Martin, to address the conference. The conservative African American leadership, which still had significant influence over the branch, reacted in anger to the criticism of the automobile manufacturers who, in their eyes, had offered considerable support to the African American community over the years. In advance of the conference at least one minister asked his congregation to boycott the conference because Martin was speaking, and even the moderate Judge Ira Jayne, long an ally of the national office in Detroit, went out of his way in his opening address to praise Henry Ford, suggesting that he “gives employment, I believe, to more Negroes at white man’s work, at white man’s pay, than any other man in the world.”47 In the years immediately following the conference the branch continued to go from strength to strength, under the watchful eyes of the national office. Mrs. Lampkin returned to the city for the membership drives of the next two years, bringing in over , members in the summer of...


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