Say No to Rhodesian Chrome 1973
This set contains one image of a picket line set up outside the Baltimore, MD docks urging longshoremen to refuse to unload Rhodesian goods sometime in 1973.

Rhodesia was formed by a white minority which declared independence from the United Kingdom (UK) in 1965, effectively ending a British plan to divest itself of the colony by installing a multi-racial democracy.

The UN called for a boycott of Rhodesia the same year. However, the U.S. during the Nixon administration (1969-74), was permitting trade with the rogue country.

Pacifists, left-wing groups, African-American rights groups and rank and file dockworkers began working together to boycott ships that carried Rhodesian goods beginning in 1972. Members of the predominantly white locals and the predominantly black local union both refused to unload the cargo.

Some excerpts from “The Dockworker,” Baltimore, Dec. 1, 1973, published by a rank and file longshoremen’s group called the Militant Action Dockworkers:

'We've also heard that a bad flu virus called the Rhodesian flu is due to hit the port Dec. 9. Anybody with Rhodesian flu who comes within a mile radius of any Rhodesian goods goes berserk and can't work for at least 24 hours.”

“Many of us have justly refused to touch these cargoes. We feel that we might as well send guns and ammunition to the racist white minority government of Rhodesia if we're going to help them sell their goods in the U.S.”

"Now Rhodesia may seem far away, and imperialism may seem like a nasty word but as long as we all work for a boss, and that boss gets rich off our labor, we're all in the same boat whether we're black and work in a Rhodesian mine or unload cargo in the port of Baltimore. We're all getting shafted by the same big international companies. Now these big corporations are organized internationally so we must be organized internationally too.”

By the end of 1973, Baltimore dockworkers had refused to unload several different loads of chrome, ferro-chrome and nickel cathodes. They were ultimately joined by dockworkers in Philadelphia, Boston, New York, Louisiana and other ports in refusing to unload Rhodesian goods.

The world-wide boycott, combined with an armed insurrection in Rhodesia, eventually led to the near collapse of the white minority Rhodesian government which finally agreed to relinquish power and hold elections in 1979. A new constitution was adopted the same year.

This slightly out of focus image was scanned from a contact print. The original negative is apparently lost. Non-commercial use of this image should be credited to Reading/Simpson. Commercial use of this image is prohibited without express permission.
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