Black Quotidian: Everyday History in African-American Newspapers

March 28, 1946

On March 28, 1946, the Los Angeles Sentinel’s banner headline announced, “Ford Hires 20 Negroes.” “The Ford Long Beach plant this week reversed its traditional lily-white policy of hiring of employes,” the article began. “With the resumption of production, about 100 new workers were taken on. Of these, approximately 20 were Negroes...The colored workers were not placed on the usual sweeping and other menial jobs...but were assign to practically all departments.” 

The Sentinel had reported on discrimination in the auto manufacturing plants for several months and, two weeks earlier, reported that “all of the large local automobile plants combined have only four Negroes workers employed on production. Two Negroes work at Ford Long Beach, two at Chrysler, none at General Motors and none at Studebaker.”

“The reversal in policy at Long Beach is a heartening and welcome sign,” the article concluded. “The Sentinel is more than confident that the performance of the Negro workers will adequately justify their continued employment” (click to view PDF).

This article is a good example of how the Sentinel and other black newspapers not only reported on, but also fought against, discrimination in employment, education, housing, and elsewhere. And the fact that twenty auto manufacturing jobs was headline news is a good indication of how rampant employment discrimination was in Los Angeles in this era.

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