A. Philip Randolph, pioneer of the civil rights movement by Paula F. Pfeffer

By Paula F. Pfeffer

Publication by way of Pfeffer, Paula F.

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In addition, the white American Socialist party, while professing proletarian aims, was composed, particularly in its leadership, predominantly of middle-class intellectualsan irony that also applied to the black editors of the Messenger. Randolph and Owen might insist they wanted to reach the black urban proletariat, but their economic theories and "New Negro" appeal were in fact directed toward educated, middle-class blacks. 16 This situation placed the editors in the ambiguous position of advocating black control of black ventures while accepting support from liberal whites, and of preaching a gospel of mass organization in terms that appealed to the middle class.

Schuyler, Black and Conservative (New Rochelle, 1966), 3739; Spero and Harris, The Black Worker, 395; Randolph, "Reminiscences," 218, 222. 29. Kornweibel, No Crystal Stair, 170. Page 20 rising black expectations caused, in Randolph's view, a bitterness and anger that provided fertile ground for the rise of Garvey's type of black nationalism. Riots resulting from competition for jobs and housing demonstrated that the black masses had changed and were now prepared to meet violence with violence. "30 Although he both influenced and benefited from this intensified color sensitivity, Randolph could not be considered a leader in 1925.

Just as Booker T. Washington had seemed too conservative to the young Du Bois, Du Bois now seemed too conservative to the young Socialists. Randolph and Owen consequently demanded a new black leadership. They also supported the Socialist position that World War I was brought about to benefit the capitalist class and, therefore, was of little concern to the workers. Unwilling to fight abroad for a democracy that did not embrace blacks and resentful of the fact that Du Bois had accepted a cap- 8.

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