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Excerpts from First Person America

“Long ago I wanted to join the AF of L Union, the Amalgamated Butchers and Meat Cutters, they called it. They wouldn’t let me in. Never said it to my face, but the reason of it was plain. Negro . . . .”

Jim Cole, Stockyard butcher, 1938

“These guys would have laughed at you if you said vaudeville was going out. They were sitting pretty, spending it as fast as it was coming in, talking about how they wowed them, complimenting themselves all the time. They never thought of the future; they thought it would go on and on forever.”

Thomas Graham, unemployed actor, 1939

“God made all this and he made it for everybody. And he made it equal . . . I breathe the same air old man Ford and old man Rockefeller breathe. They got all the money and I ain’t got nothing, but they got to breathe the same air I do.”

Eli Luster, Harlem street preacher, 1939