Press Statement, January 15, 1941

"I suggest that Ten Thousand Negroes march on Washington, D.C. with the slogan ..." A. Philip Randolph, Father of the modern civil rights movement
Randolph with Eleanor Roosevelt
Randolph with Eleanor Roosevelt

. . . Randolph on January 15, 1941, elevated the struggle against discrimination in the national defense industry and against segregation in the armed services to a new, unprecedented level with the following press statement:

. . . only power can effect the enforcement and adoption of a given policy, however meritorious it may be. The virtue and rightness of a cause are not alone the condition and cause of its acceptance. Power and pressure are at the foundation of the march of social justice and reform . . . power and pressure do not reside in the few, and intelligentsia, they lie in and flow from the masses. Power does not even rest with the masses as such. Power is the active principle of only the organized masses, the masses united for a definite purpose. Hence, Negro America must bring its power and pressure to bear upon the agencies and representatives of the Federal Government to exact their rights in National Defense employment and the armed forces of the country. . . I suggest that TEN THOUSAND Negroes march on Washington, D.C. . . . with the slogan: WE LOYAL NEGRO AMERICAN CITIZENS DEMAN D THE RIGHT TO WORK AND FIGHT FOR OUR COUNTRY. . . . we seek the right to play our part in advancing the cause of national defense and national unity. But certainly there can be no national unity where one tenth of the population are denied their basis rights as American citizens. . . . One thing is certain and that is if Negroes are going to get anything out of this national defense, which will cost the nation 30 to 40 billions of dollars that we Negroes must help pay in taxes as property owners and workers and consumers, WE MUST FIGHT FOR IT AND FIGHT FOR IT WITH GLOVES OFF.

See Introduction to The Papers of Clarence Mitchell Jr., Volume III