Southern Illinois University Carbondale Daily Egyptian Diversity News Archive (Southern Illinois University Carbondale)
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Item IDegyptian 1943 0416vol 24 #25.tif
Original Publication SourceDaily Egyptian
Date1943 April 16
Digital File Format.TIF (Tagged Image Format)
Digital File PublisherSpecial Collections Research Center, Morris Library, Southern Illinois University Carbondale
Rights StatementAll copyrights held by Southern Illinois University Carbondale. For permission to reproduce, distribute, or otherwise use this image, please contact the Special Collections Research Center, Morris Library, Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Phone: + 1 (618) 453-2516. Email:
CollectionDaily Egyptian Diversity News Archive (Southern Illinois University Carbondale)



The Selmier
Peerless incident has opened our
eyes to a lot of things in Carbondale. Now we
see the labor discrimination, the race hatred, the
attempted economic peonage, and the impediment of the total progress of a nation at war. These conditions have existed in the past. but only recently have they been brought out into the open.
Last week the management of the Selmier Peerless Tovel Supply Company broke all precedent
—they hired four Negro girls. This should have been a great thing for Carbondale's Negroes. but it has tended to act as a boomerang. Because these girls were hired. the other workers threatened to quit. They, did strike for a while. Their only reason was the tact that they thought themselves too good to work with Negroes. In Carbondale, it is assumed to be outrageous to even ask the honorable white workers to work in the same plant with kindred souls of darker hue. This is a lamentable condition. It is deplorable that such a thing should exist in this sunny part of Little Egypt. Yet, we ‘know this to be typical "little Egyptian" conduct as far as labor is concerned.
After the Towel Company affair.
I tried to make a survey of labor conditions in a futile effort to prove to myself that these things were not so. It was no use. This is not an industrial city of any note. The places for common or skilled labor are not too plentiful. but these places in existence have a definite policy of "whiteness" Of course there are a few exceptions. These may be found at the tie plant or the railroad. but even in these eases the Negro is given the jobs which are considered too dirty or too hard for any one else. In almost all other cases he is excluded. He is reserved to shine shoes, porter, wash dishes, or cook in some dirty, greasy kitchen of the best: beaneries in town. He is the house boy or the maid in the homes of the elite, or of the poorer white workers who fee it necessary to "lord it over" someone else. For him is reserved the place of "little Egyptian flunky" whose only means of a livelihood is found in domestic work in this area. The economic position of the Negro is low; the whites seem determined to keep it low.
In some local stores the trade is predominately colored, yet. even in these cases Negroes cannot work there. If they are given work, it is porter or janitor—nothing more. Qualification are not used as barriers, for, if this were so, it could he proven that some of tills areas Negro populace. have much better qualifications for some of the positions. The barrier is color—a color line over which the Negro of Little Egypt has yet to go. In the local defense Plant skilled Negroes, graduates of this institution, were offered jobs any idiot could fill. They Were denied the other positions because old orthodox prejudice will not allow the dark man to advance in this region.
In spite of all this, they say this is an enlightened area. Here, they say, men think, build, and mold a culture rich in its unique qualities. Here things are supposedly different. Those are the things they would have us believe. Those are the typical Chamber of Commerce speeches. But, fortunately for some, time is beginning to tell the true story. Conditions are definitely different. When the story is finally told there is no doubt that this area will be like all the rest—prejudiced. ignorant, and without sense of moral, civil, or any other kind of equality for its citizens. Here, too, equality under the law and God is only a pipe dream. Here, too, will be found a populace of prejudiced, misguided people whose very reason is impaired by their infliction. There is a culture here—that is true. But it cannot, it will not he developed as long as the Egyptian Jim Crow lives, As long as some of its people are systematically denied the rights of economic, social. and political freedom, Carbondale cannot advance. It will continue to be a place designated as the home of "dry rot."
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