The Charlotte News

Friday, July 24, 1942


Site Ed. Note: Reports on the front page from Nazi radio broadcasts claimed the capture of Rostov, key to the Caucasus, while admitting that some fighting continued in the outskirts of Voronezh to the north, the cut link on the troop supply rails from Moscow to Rostov. If the news about Rostov was true, the whole of Russia could be within weeks of falling.

The British counter-strike against Rommel's forces west of El Alamein continued to go well as the Nazis retreated. Meanwhile, thirty miles into Egypt, the Italians had occupied the Siwa Oasis, a key juncture south of the impenetrable salt marshes of the Qataara Depression and key watering hole before entering the long, dry desert to the north. It was thought that this move might therefore presage a flanking maneuver on the British Eighth Army fighting Rommel in the forty-mile wide strip between Qatarra and the sea.

This long northern stretch of desert, however, contained not only no water, but no wine. Mussolini's army was therefore especially ill-equipped to forge their way across it.

On the spy and sedition front at home, it is reported that Broadus Hudson DePriest, native of Shelby, was among 28 indicted in Washington for engaging in efforts to undermine the draft or stimulate revolt in the armed forces. In the 1920's, DePriest had published in Shelby a small tract, "The Highlander". He left Shelby to join the Reverend Gerald Winrod, racist Kuku of Wichita, Kansas, as a writer for Winrod's Fundamentalist vent, "The Defender".

Did DePriest become aware of W. J. Cash, audacious editor of the bi-weekly Cleveland Press, or his alter-ego, J. W. Cash, also sometime writer for the paper, who in the fall of 1928 stood as a largely isolated voice in the village for open disapproval of the Klan, for social progress, and, banish the thought, even a visible supporter of Catholic Al Smith in the 1928 presidential campaign against Herbert Hoover?

We don't know the answer to that question; the piece does not tell us when "The Highlander" was published. Shelby is ten miles from Boiling Springs, where Cash lived from the age of ten and where he still lived at age 28 during that fall of 1928.

Shelby, of course, with its nurturing influence of rabid racist Thomas Dixon, its respect for the heroic blades of the Civil War, was a natural feeding ground for the beliefs obviously populating the mind of DePriest. But precisely when in the twenties he published his rag, the story does not tell. Perhaps, one of these first days, we shall venture again to Shelby and seek to find out when "The Highlander" was in business and precisely what it said. We shall let you know.

And another story tells of potatoes and rocks flying through trees, fires jumping from the stove onto the cook, fruit jars moving about the house of a family in Spindale, N.C., all thought to harbinge the Apocalypse. The report seems to take great significance from the fact that the family was black, as if such things had never been reported or such omens attached to them by white people, even educated white people. Perhaps, they occurred just as the family reported. Perhaps the potatoes and rocks were thrown by racists; perhaps the fruit jars were being moved around by Masons in the middle of the night; perhaps the jumping fire was the result of incendiary devices thrown in the stove by neighborhood boys playing a prank. Who knows? While perhaps not signifying of themselves the end of the world, one only had to read the newspaper daily to realize that, indeed, the end of the world was near, and growing closer by the hour. It would have stood well the racist writer of this piece to listen to Claude Forney rather than busy himself in mockery.

The editorial page berates Governor Broughton for paroling the only five convicted men, none of them mob leaders, who had participated in the Roxboro melee August 15, 1941, seeking to lynch an African-American in jail on a charge of rape of a white woman. But for the courage of the sheriff and his deputies holding them off with teargas, the defendant would have been taken to some wood and dispatched that night. Civilian Conservation Corps men from a nearby camp had come to Roxboro to prevent the lynching, fighting the rock-throwing mob with baseball bats.

The Governor had immediately authorized a State Bureau of Investigation inquiry into--the CCC men. Only when a hue and cry for six days was raised in the press across the state, including The News, did the Governor turn the matter of investigating the mob over to a Roxboro native, the Lieutenant Governor. When that did not quell the press stir, he finally ordered the SBI to investigate the mob, a job which was done easily enough though the trail had grown two weeks cold before its start. Arrests were made October 15, trials were had in April, five patsies were found guilty while the organizers went free, providing then the Governor a perfect excuse to parole the patsies after--90 days in jail.

So, in 1942, lynch mobs in North Carolina either went scot-free or received 90 days in jail.

Somehow, given that the same social mindset was extant in Greensboro in 1979 when the KKK, sans hoods, murdered several Communist Workers Party members in broad daylight on the streets of Greensboro and then were acquitted by a jury despite the showing during trial of a videotape of the shootings, it isn't at all surprising.

Racism roots deep in a society, deep in the savage soul of those who succumb and adhere to its vicious indoctrination, its vicious cycle of generational repetition, who receive benefits from its ways, reaching thus high and low alike as the political spoils in a state or locality too often go to those who will, if not openly voice the politics of racism, nod and wink at its results when they show their ugly head, as if to say: "Now ya'll boys, we know, didn't mean all those bad things you did to the Negro there as we understand that there was provocation, terrible provocation, when he leered like that and wiped his slavering jowls at your womenfolk. We excuse the fault, this time, but remember: try to control yourselves in the future. We must preserve order. And also remember to vote for me should I decide after my term as Governor is over to run for the Senate. Why, that Negro and anyone who would support him are lucky to have any rights at all. But we grant them rights, don't we?"

Governor Broughton--a man of the people. Progress--roads and schools, schools and roads.

Ideas? My friend, please, look what ideas did to Russia. Stick to the asphault and concrete blocks.

Speaking of which, we don't dare touch "Highway Secret" with a ten foot pole.

And somehow we experience discordance between the Bible quote of the day and "Fortunate, Sir". But, we make no further comment on that either.

Ernie Pyle tells of the Quonset huts housing the troops in Northern Ireland.

We once had a class in statistics which we took in a Quonset hut in Chapel Hill in the fall of 1972, one left over from World War II. Welcome to the Marines.

Vince Carter was a pretty good basketball player back there in the mid-nineties, wasn't he?

Well, let's go for a ride now in our Little Deuce Coupe.

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