Racial Strikes in the Auto Industry

There were three strikes in the 1940’s that were directly related to the promotion of African Americans, and desegregation of plants in the Detroit area. The Packard Motor Company strike, which only employed African Americans as janitors or for foundry, occurred after some were promoted into jobs that only whites held. Tensions were high, violence broke out, and employees walked out. Consequently, the people promoted were quickly demoted. Another strike broke out after government pressure caused the General Motor plants to desegregate once again.  Three African American women were promoted and white female workers were furious, and attempted to have others join them as they walked out. The three African American women were demoted when the company gave in to strikers. Three months later three African American men were promoted to the line and 25,000 workers went on strike. However, after three days GM and the government negotiated with strikers after 30 strike agitators were suspended. With the threat of suspension, strikers returned to work, but discrimination within the plants did not.

Below is a documentary on the League of Revolutionary Black Workers: an organization that began in the auto industry of Detroit.

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