NYU Black Renaissance Noire NYU Black Renaissance Noire V. 16.1 - Page 44

Mrs. Bass remained a passionate supporter of Shaw, because “it’s his unprejudiced action that the Negro race in Los Angeles has been given a break in the conduct of the city government, and we are grateful.” In the same editorial she noted: Kynette and his aides have been proven guilty of a terrible crime after a fair and impartial trial before a jury of their peers, and they should be given the full penalty of the law; and we’d say the same thing about the Mayor were he proven guilty of an unlawful act, but will never condemn him because of the crimes of others. 41 42 After the recall election was set for September, the focus of the Federation turned to the selection of a candidate to run against Shaw. John Anson Ford was the early favorite but declined to run, because of lukewarm support by Clinton. Clinton felt Ford was too close to labor and the left and had already lost to Shaw in the previous mayor’s race. Clinton favored Judge Fletcher Bowron, a Republican. Labor and the radicals rejected Bowron, because of his conservatism; they wanted Sam Yorty, a leftist Assemblyman as a candidate. The division between the Clinton faction and the left threatened to split the recall movement, after Clinton warned he would leave the coalition, if Bowron were not selected. Don Healey, the left’s leader, compromised at the last moment and agreed to Bowron. “It was clear that Bowron must be accepted as the candidate of the Federation for Civic Betterment,” wrote Paul Cline in The Communist, “if the anti-Shaw forces were to remain united, if the conservative masses behind Clinton and the Methodist church were to be rallied for the recall.” 42 In the month that preceded the recall election, the Bowron camp organized volunteers to work on his behalf. Bowron, despite his conservative credentials, actively pursued a coalition of capital and labor to defeat Shaw. “I believe,” announced Bowron, “in keeping the City Government free from official corruption, free from special privilege, free from sinister influences, free from the cancer of managed, syndicated vice, with its pay-off and resulting protection — free from the menace to honest city employees, honest citizens, and loss to honest labor and honest business which conditions effect.” 43 While the Shaw forces unsuccessfully filed a lawsuit to stop the recall, Bowron solidified his support among the left and the black community. The Communist Party endorsed Bowron, while it pledged to take a backseat and allow the Federation to run the campaign. Baron Lawson, an investigator and advisor to civic, was Bowron’s contact person in the black community. Lawson organized a campaign committee for Bowron in the black districts headed by Hugh E. Macbeth, with Loren Miller in charge of publicity. Bowron spoke to the Forum and at the campaign committee’s headquarters on Central Avenue. 44 Shaw, however, retained his strong support among the black elite. Leon Washington broke with his cousin Loren over support for Shaw. The Sentinel endorsed Shaw’s retention, blasting Bowron for alleged insulting comments he made in a radio broadcast about the Sentinel. “It is hard to believe that a judge of the superior court,” wrote Washington quoting Bowron’s statement, “even though being used as a puppet by scheming radical politicians to upset the stability and recovery progress of a great city’s government, could so far forget his dignity and decency as to attack with the following words the community and neighborhood press of Los Angeles.” 45 The black elite, including Norman Huston, Lloyd and Thomas Griffith, Dr. Claude Hudson, Clarence Muse, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, and others who had supported Shaw in his re-election campaign, joined Washington in his support of Shaw. The group, led by Dr. H. H. Towles, set up its headquarters on Central Avenue. Mrs. Bass provided assistance from the Eagle. She attacked the recall backers as “scandal-mongers, hard-losers, and racketeers.” She praised Shaw for his appointments of blacks to positions in city government. “Now, as then,” she wrote, “we feel this man gave the Negro greater economic recognition than any other to occupy our city’s highest office. His record of appointments for Negroes is unequalled in Los Angeles civic annals.” 46 The recall election provoked conflict among the black elite. Reporting to Clinton on a naacp meeting, Walter L. Gordon, Sr. wrote: