Communist Party USA

Over 10 years before the civil rights sit-ins of the 1960s, like the one at the Woolworth’s in North Carolina, a coalition organized by a Communist Party member and others fought to desegregate a drug store in Des Moines, Iowa. In 1948 Iowa had a problem with racism. The state was north of the Mason-Dixon line, and many considered discrimination to be “not that much of a problem.” But a string of drug stores owned by the Katz family had been accused numerous times of violating civil rights laws; one letter to the NAACP described Katz’s treatment of Black people, saying, “Negro WACs and Nurses, even when wearing Uncle Sam’s uniforms, do not belong to the human race.” The NAACP tried and failed to prosecute Katz for the misconduct numerous times, each ending in acquittal or the accuser dropping out due to lack of witnesses. Enter Edna Griffin. On…

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Edna Griffin and the fight to integrate a Des Moines drug store