White versus Colored Brick Layers

January 11, 1902


White brick-layers go on strike when contractors hire blacks over them. The Planet suggests that African American bricklayers form their own unions, since they are excluded from whites’.


The white brick-layers of Richmond are on a strike. They refuse to work on account of a disagreement relative to the house set by the contractors and the employment of Negro labor.
This is a peculiar position for labor to assume with reference to labor. The colored brick-layers are not permitted join the Bricklayers Union, because they are colored and are not to be permitted to work for the same reason.
The white contractors seem to have become suddenly color-blind. A man who can lay brick and complete the work is the one he is seeking, and accordingly on many of the buildings of the city, colored brick layers may be seen occupying the places formerly held by the striking white brick-layers.
This has been our contention all along. Colored men should organize their own labor unions and hold themselves aloof from white laboring men, who make color, rather than skill the basis of their disagreements.
It is right and proper for colored brick-layers to meet the issue, stand by the contractors and carry on the work to a successful termination. Our people do not desire to place themselves in antagonism to white labor, but when white mechanics ignore and persecute colored mechanics, there is nothing for us to do, but meet the issue and act in accordance with the laws of self-preservation.
It is a pity, though, that the colored brick-layers are not properly organized and officered in order that its president and executive committee might deal with the contractors instead of the present plan of individual bargaining for positions.
But the colored mechanics is learning his lesson and but few years will pass before an organization, strong and powerful, will form a network throughout the southern states and be the means of producing an industrial revolution, hitherto unknown in the history of trade organizations.
About this article

Location on Page

Lower Left Quadrant

Contributed By

Brooke Royer


“White versus Colored Brick Layers,” Black Virginia: The Richmond Planet, 1894-1909, accessed April 23, 2024, https://blackvirginia.richmond.edu/items/show/54.