Fire Dept. ; Stations. At Livernois & Walton. Protest Against Negro Fireman

1938-07-30

Large group of white people gather outside Detroit Fire station at Livernois and Walton to protest against the hiring of an African American fireman. "These two black firemen, Marvin White and Marcellus Taylor, had passed rigid civil-service examinations with high honors and had successfully completed the equally rigorous firemen's training school, despite their qualifications, however, 1,800 racist whites in the mostly-Polish area of the fire station signed and presented a petition to the fire commission asking them not to assign the black firemen to the stations in their neighborhood ... the fire commission rejected their request, so the petitioners went to the common council, who passed the buck to the mayor [Richard W. Reading], who in turn stood firm on his decision and informed the white petitioners that the two had passed the required rigid civil-service tests and that if they (the white petitioners) felt that the assignment of black firemen to a station in their neighborhood violated their civil rights, then they should take the issue to court," from Life for Us Is What We Make It: Building Black Community in Detroit, 1915-1945 by Richard Walter Thomas.


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