We must either unite the Negro people as full- fledged American citizens with
the rest of us in the war against tyranny and fascism, or we will alienate the
Negro people from us, thereby serving the Axis enemies of democracy.
—george meyerS, President, Maryland and District of
Columbia Industrial Union Council
In the dozen years after the Great Crash, the Black freedom struggle and
the workers’ struggle in the Baltimore metropolitan region, located on the
border of North and South, constructed two substantially new popular so-
cial movements, led by two powerful mass organizations. In the freedom
struggle, the reorganized Baltimore branch of the nAAcP, over the previ-
ous half- decade, had emerged as the leading force in the regional and state-
wide freedom movements and was an important contributor to the growing
national freedom movement. It, in alliance with other smaller groupings in
the movement, had challenged Jim Crow in many arenas and venues and
had won some important victories. In the workers’ struggle, the cio, after
a period of rapid growth and development, had consolidated itself as the
leading mass organization—or, more accurately, a federation of mass orga-
nizations—in the regional movement, and also had won important victories.
Segments of the Afl had also been caught up in the waves of activity, and
while it remained a rival to the cio, the Afl in a real sense had fallen under
the cio’s hegemony. Moreover, the struggle against racism in the workplace
and in the unions had significantly advanced, creating something of a free-
dom movement within the ranks of the workers’ movement.
However, despite their simultaneous growth within the same metropoli-
tan region, their shared and intertwined roots in struggles before 1936, and
their involvement with each other, the movements led by the cio and the
nAAcP did not consummate a functioning, ongoing alliance during the late
1930s. Nonetheless, by evolving in the same social space and by expressing
their ideologies and demands in the same cultural atmosphere, they influ-
enced each other quite profoundly. In addition, because of the activities of
the Baltimore Council of the National Negro Congress and the Baltimore
branch of the Urban League, two freedom organizations deeply involved
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