America's Hidden Resource
To the Editor:
Mr. Herbert Hill’s stimulating article, “Labor Unions and the Negro,” in your December 1959 number, is far and away the most up-to-date comprehensive discussion of the subject. . . . [Moreover] my own immediate personal experience has taught me that there is a category of skilled and even professional workers, whom Mr. Hill does not discuss, [who] constitute an incalculable social and economic waste. Now in their late forties and early fifties, some of these Negroes, of whom I happen to be one (Harvard College ’32), even took degrees from so-called Ivy League colleges just prior to the enlargement of employment opportunities for our people as the concomitant and aftermath of World War II. Compelled to devote their best years to underpaid jobs within the segregated Negro economy, barely above the level of subsistence, often their only tangible compensation was the sense of responsibility in managerial positions.
Can they look to the organized labor movement for jobs commensurate with their higher education, training, and experience? Not even the most enlightened American trade union has any serious program for finding and utilizing our nation’s often hidden human resources. . . .