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A Progressive Organization Urges African-American Solidarity with the Shirtwaist Strikers

After a New York Age editorial was published, a crisis meeting was called by the Cosmopolitan Club. The Cosmopolitan Club was an organization of black and white progressives and radicals called together by Mary White Ovington, a founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; Ovington had helped to organize the club after she spent seven years investigating the conditions of African Americans in New York. The meeting was held at the black community church in Brooklyn on January 21, 1910 and passed a historic if little known resolution, which was reprinted in the New York Call.

Resolved, That the citizens of Brooklyn in mass meeting assembled, protest and urge the women of color to refrain from acting in the capacity of strikebreakers in the shirtwaist making concerns of New York, because we regard their actions as antagonistic to the best interest of labor.  

We further urge that, in the event of the successful termination of the strike, organized labor exercise a proper consideration of the claims and demands of the men and women of color who desire to enter the various trades in the way of employment and the protection of the various labor unions….

Those familiar with negro opinion will feel the significance of this appeal from the leaders of the race.  The colored girl is urged, not to enter the market and underbid, accepting any chance to learn a trade, but to refrain from injuring other working women, and whenever possible, to ally herself with the cause of union labor.

Source | Meredith Tax, The Rising of the Women: Feminist Solidarity and Class Conflict 1880-1917 (Monthly Review Press, 1980; University of Illinois Press, 2001).
Creator | The Cosmopolitan Club
Item Type | Newspaper/Magazine
Cite This document | The Cosmopolitan Club, “A Progressive Organization Urges African-American Solidarity with the Shirtwaist Strikers,” HERB: Resources for Teachers, accessed August 20, 2019, https://herb.ashp.cuny.edu/items/show/955.

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