A remarkable letter sent from John W. Richardson of 445 Hawkins to President Franklin Roosevelt during World War Two protesting the lack of democracy here in the “Arsenal of Democracy”. From the National Archives, sent January 27, 1943.
Perhaps you have never heard of any one by the above name, yet, one by that name is going to plead with you.
My first question I have for you to answer is, “Are we the people of the negro race too illiterate to work at war jobs other than sweeping floors? It seems to me as if we are not included in this fight for freedom, yet thousands of our boys are on the far war fronts of the world are fighting what is called democracy. I sometimes wonder if there is any democracy.
Must we the northern negro go on seeing white labor is being imported from the south to jobs we would be very good at. There are hundreds of negro men, not disabled men, but hard workers, are told there is no work for them. Is that “democracy at work” Mr. President? The plant I am speaking of is the Ford Willow Run plant.
That is all Mr. President, which is enough don’t you think?
John W. Richardson