Pullman Porters (1926)

Pullman Porters (1926)

There are some things connected with the fight of Pullman porters for recognition as modern working men which should hold our attention. First, there is the threat of the Pullman Company to substitute Filipino porters. This threat is sheer poppycock. Let them import as many Filipinos as they want. The Negro porters can easily hold their own. But of course the Pullman Company has not the slightest intention of importing Filipinos even if they could do so legally. They are simply trying to scare colored men.

Then again they are trying to influence the Negro press and apparently they are succeeding. Of the five or more colored papers in Chicago not a single one has come out openly and fearlessly in defense of the porters. Most of them have treated the matter with shuffling and with silence.

But it is perhaps the attitude of Calvin Coolidge and his government which is most disgraceful. The government has not only set spies to hound Negroes who dare to study Communism, but it has allowed one of its own job-holders to accept a fee from the Pullman Company in return for throwing dirt and bribes among Negroes. As the Brooklyn Daily Eagle says: “Coercion of labor unions by paid agents of employers holding Federal office is not capable of any defense, certainly of none that has any relation to practical politics in America.”

Finally, if American Negroes want to know on which side to take their stand in this matter of labor organization among Negroes they should note the people who are against it: Mark Sullivan, the most unfair of newspaper correspondents on Negro problems, the Memphis Commercial Appeal, the daily press of Miami, Florida! When such forces as these take one side, it is the business of thinking Negroes to take the other.

Citation: Du Bois, W.E.B. 1926. “Pullman Porters.” The Crisis. 31(3):113.