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Robeson - Take Jim Crow off the American dollar: 1949 | by Washington Area Spark
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Robeson - Take Jim Crow off the American dollar: 1949

Actor, singer and civil rights activist Paul Robeson joins pickets in front of the White House August 4, 1949 protesting Jim Crow practices at the U.S. Bureau of Engraving.


Robeson carries a sign that reads “Mr. Truman, take Jim Crow off the American dollar.”


A broad coalition led by Margaret Gilmore, president of United Public Workers of America Local 3, organized pickets at the Bureau of Engraving and at the White House.


Gilmore led a three-year fight against Jim Crow at the agency that printed U.S. money, winning major victories along the way.


During World War II, many employees were hired without competitive exams. In the late 1940s, the U.S. grandfathered in the white, skilled plate printers while proposing that the predominantly African American printer assistants and printer helpers compete against everyone applying for jobs at the Bureau despite the fact that many had worked there 7-8 years.


Gilmore won that battle and took on the all-white printers union, waging a campaign that ultimately opened up those jobs to African Americans as well.


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The photo is by the Afro American.

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Taken on August 4, 1949