DC New Negro Alliance: 1934-43
The New Negro Alliance was a local District of Columbia African American organization based among professionals that sought to use the boycott to force firms doing business in the black community to integrate their workforces.

The impetus for the Alliance came in August 1933 when 21-year old John Aubrey Davis staged a boycott of the Hamburger Grill. The Grill was a white owned business that fired three black workers and replaced them with whites.

On August 28, 1933 Davis organized a picket and boycott of the establishment. Two days later, the Hamburger Grill re-hired the three black employees.

Following this victory, Davis along with Belford V. Lawson and M. Franklin Thorne formed the Alliance and began campaigns that targeted chain stores like People’s Drug Store, Safeway and Sanitary Groceries.

Using slogans like “Don’t Buy Where You Can’t Work” and “Jobs for Negroes,” the group set up ongoing pickets outside of the stores.

Sanitary Groceries challenged the Alliance’s right to picket outside one of their more than 140 stores at 1936 11th Street NW. Lawson, who was an attorney, took the case to the U.S. Supreme Court which ruled in 1938 “…. those having a direct or indirect interest in the matters of employment have the freedom to take action against discrimination and peacefully persuade others."

Despite victories at smaller stores the group was unable to break through in the big chains and by the end World War II in 1945, the group was essentially defunct.

The Alliance, however, because of its unique position in the District of Columbia, helped to bring the issue of fair employment into the national spotlight. A Phillip Randolph’s threatened march on Washington in 1941 caused President Franklin Roosevelt to issue an executive order for fair employment practices in the defense and defense related industries.

The color barrier began to break down during World War II, but legal discrimination did not end until the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
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