Election 1944: Dewey points to his race record (8-12-44)

The Afro-American (August 12, 1944)


St. Louis Republicans told color is ignored

Hits Democrats; compares Democratic, GOP racial planks
By B. M. Phillips

St. Louis, Missouri –
If he is elected in November, GOP presidential candidate Thomas E. Dewey will continue his past practice of including qualified people regardless of color on his list of appointments.

He didn’t say so in so many words, but he told a group of 40-odd colored Republican leaders who met with him for 30 minutes at the Hotel Statler, Friday morning, that a man should be judged on his actions not on promises and pointed out that during his 14 years as a public official in New York, colored people had been named to important posts.

The presidential candidate emphasized that he had appointed people because they were good and merited it and not because of their race, color or creed. The important thing, he said, is what a person is, not who his parents are.

He cited the appointment of C. B. Powell to the Boxing Commission; Mrs. Eunice H. Carter to the District Attorney’s staff, and Mrs. Bertha Diggs to the secretaryship of the Industrial and Labor Department, as examples.

The presidential candidate declared:

There’s no difference between people, but you can’t convince people that their prejudices are wrong by knocking them on the head and saying you’ve got to like Catholics, Jews or colored people. You’ve got to live with them and convince them there are no differences.

He referred to the election of Judge Francis E. Rivers in a district where 88 percent of the voters were white and only 12 percent colored, as an example that you can elect men to office without considering their race, color or creed.

Democratic plank ‘shocking’

The Democratic Party’s racial plank was described by Mr. Dewey as “shocking” in its failure to say anything. He praised his own party’s racial plank and pointed out that it was not necessary to fight for its inclusion in the platform.

The conference with colored leaders was one of several held with Missouri groups while the presidential candidate was here conferring with 25 GOP governors. All were closed to the press but periodic press conferences were held.

Before talking to the group, Dewey was introduced to each member by William Morant, local constable and leader of the group.

Frequent applause

He shook hands with each one as he made the rounds of the room and joked when he came to an unusual name. During his talk, there was frequent applause.

Mr. Morant said he was impressed with the meeting and expressed the belief that Dewey would carry Missouri.

Ben Thomas, chairman of publicity for the GOP state committee, described Dewey’s talk as forthright.

Mrs. William O. McMahon, superintendent of the State Industrial Home for Girls, said she was pleased with Dewey’s simple presentation.

Dewey 100 percent

The Rev. Jasper C. Caston, pastor of the Memorial Baptist Church and alderman of St. Louis, said:

I am 100 percent behind Dewey. I like the man, know his record and am acquainted with the men associated with him.

They are all 100 percent. There is no veneer about Dewey. He is the same, year in year out. Dewey is not afraid of colored people. He has got to win.

Asked whether he implied that Roosevelt is afraid of colored people, Caston said: “Ask Roosevelt to have his picture taken with them.”

Crossland impressed

Dr. J. R. A. Crossland of St. Joseph, who came to St. Louis for the conference with Dewey, said that he has followed Dewey’s record for 12 years and that he is impressed with his appointment of colored persons on their merit. Dr. Crossland, former U.S. Minister to Liberia, said:

Colored people of Missouri will support Dewey with patriotic fervor, faith infallible and purpose undivided. The 1944 election will see colored people rallying under his leadership.

Attorney Sidney R. Redmond said: “Everyone was favorable impressed with the forthright position of Governor Dewey.”

Harvey Tucker, attorney and president of the 23rd Ward Republican Club, said:

Dewey is all right. His attitude on the appointment of colored persons to office in New York is sane and sound. He considers all citizens alike and makes appointments on a basis of merit. I agree with his policy, as colored people want no special consideration.

His record speaks

Charles E. Robinson of Jefferson City, director of the colored division of the state board of health and leading state Republican, said that the colored people of Missouri are completely satisfied with Dewey and that it will be best for America if Dewey is elected President. “His record speaks for itself.”

There were only two questions put to him during the meeting. While he was citing the progress made in New York, someone said, “Maybe we should all move to New York.” Dewey smiled and said there is no cure-all to any deep basic problems of progress.

The GOP’s answer

Later in the meeting, attorney Silas Garner asked Dewey what he thought was the greatest point the Democrats had, and what is the GOP’s answer, Dewey replied: “The Democrats’ point is that the President is the only one qualified to prosecute the war.”

He said:

Our answer to that is that the German war is cracking up and the Jap war is going along fine. The next President, therefore, will be a peacetime Executive. The people must decide whether they want four more years of Roosevelt’s peacetime depression or whether it is time for a change.