Samuel Gompers Papers

From Eugene Jones

                                                            National League on Urban Conditions among Negroes.

                                                                            New York City. August 18th, 1914.

Dear Mr. Gompers:

          I am interested at present in the status of the colored musician in New York City, especially as it relates to the Musical Mutual Protective Union, which has "declared war" against the non-union colored musician, who finds it expensive and not so pleasant to ally himself with the Musical Mutual Protective Union.

          I have taken the matter up with Mr. Frayne, The National Organizer, and he promised to use his influence with Mr. Porter, President of the local union. I have also spoken with President Carothers  of the American Federation of Musicians. The colored musicians with whom I have conferred have been almost unanimous in their desire to form a separate colored local, with a charter or sub-charter, subject to the supervision or control of the now existing local chapter. The colored men feel that they can maintain the "esprit de corps," give better control to their members and get better results on the whole in a separate organization, especially since orchestras made up of colored men are exclusively colored and orchestras made up of white men are exclusively white.

          The local chapter has taken the position that Negroes must come into their union under the same condition as the white members and must be subject to the same regulations and control, which of course gives no opportunity for holding office or having any appreciable influence in the management of the local's affairs. From your wide knowledge of the different types of American citizens you understand the psychology of this desire on the part of the colored men.

           I write to you explaining the condition because I remember that some time ago you and your colleagues at Atlantic City sent broadcast the statement that colored men who desire to become unionized would be treated fairly and would reap the benefits of the Federation's successes.  I feel that a word from you in the present situation would be of material assistance in my efforts to get a "square deal" for the colored musician of New York City.

                    Sincerely yours, (Signed) Eugene Kinckle Jones.

TLtpSr, reel 185, vol. 197, pp. 546-47, SG Letterbooks, DLC. Typed notation: "Copy." Enclosed in SG to Hugh Frayne, Aug. 19, 1914, p. 545, ibid.