Murder Will Out


W.E.B. Du Bois


March 1, 1920

Slowly, too slowly, and yet with inevitable sureness the meaning of the South in American civilization is becoming clear to the blindest. T.W. O’Connor, President of the International Longshoremen’s Association, has just said:

The South has been utterly reactionary in its attitude toward labor. It is completely out of step with modern attitudes toward such questions as women in industries, child labor, limited hours of labor, employers’ liability and the like. In Texas recently a Democratic State administration declared martial law in Galveston, where there was a strike, against the protest of every city official, at a time when there was not a sign of disorder and no arrest was made from the beginning to the end of the strike. Yet troops were brought in and martial law proclaimed.

For long years American laborers have been bamboozled by the South. Southern white laborers have thought that they could raise themselves by disfranchising, lynching and insulting black laborers. Northern white laborers have thought that their salvation lay in forcing black workers to be scabs or to starve. Black laborers have been convinced that their salvation lay in close communion with the “aristocratic” southern landlords and capitalists and with rich northern “philanthropy” against the “poor white trash”. All were wrong. There is no color line in labor. To entrenched Privilege the underpaid day’s work of black and white all looks alike, and entrenched Privilege finds the South its finest, freest dwelling place.


For attribution, please cite this work as:
Du Bois, W.E.B. 1920. “Murder Will Out.” The Crisis 20 (5): 215.