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Kenneth ClarkKenneth Clark
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the train, and he told me about his experience with Roosevelt, and the march on Washington.


You're talking about Roosevelt, so you mean the threat of the first march on Washington in the early 1940's, right?


Absolutely. We were talking about the one that led eventually, after a great deal of poker-playing, to the FEPC [Fair Employment Practices Commission]. Roosevelt was very reluctant about it. Randolph was telling me about Roosevelt's reluctance, and Eleanor Roosevelt's aid in trying to get Franklin Roosevelt to understand what blacks were saying and demanding. The thing I remember, ultimately, he said, “I guess I wonder what would've happened if he had continued to resist. I don't know whether I would've been able to carry it off.” But he was very positive in describing Eleanor Roosevelt's role.


As I remember some accounts of his meeting with Washington (I believe it was in a profile done in the New York Times of A. Philip Randolph, which was titled “Gadfly to Presidents”), he apparently remained quite firm in his position with Roosevelt. Roosevelt was quoted as saying something like, “Now Phil, you can't go at this with hammer and tongs.” So Mr. Randolph continued to go at it with hammer and tongs. Roosevelt was then quoted as having said after Mr. Randolph left his office, “I guess he's not going to give. We're going to have to do something about this.” Did A. Philip Randolph say something like this to you when he discussed that first march?

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