NYU Black Renaissance Noire NYU Black Renaissance Noire V. 16.1 - Page 45

Bowron formed an interracial committee to select black appointees. Loren Miller was considered for membership. Meanwhile, Leon Washington made an effort to catch up with the changing times by explaining away his recall support for Shaw. In a series of editorials in the Sentinel, he called for new leadership to replace the “little clique of local spokesmen who have dominated this community.” 51 Washington claimed he supported Shaw only because the Shaw regime placed heat on him. He claimed he was threatened with withdrawal of advertising from the Sentinel, if he had not backed Shaw. “At the height of its power,” claimed Washington, “it was difficult to find a single phase of life in this community in which the Shaw machine had not reached its tentacles. The methods used were intimidation, playing on human vanity and holding out of rewards, some of which materialized and some of which did not.” 52 The Eagle ridiculed Washington’s change of heart: Howdy, folks I seen a front page article in the “World’s Greatest Shopping Weekly” last week, wherein its Circuitous Editor announced that he was now ready to “sing.” He intimated that since there was now no danger of his being molested or intimidated by hard-hearted wicked Policemen — or losing a big super-market ad — he was going to expose eastside vice conditions. 53 BLACK RENAISSANCE NOIRE A large turnout was forecast for the recall election on September 16, 1938. The turnout did not disappoint; 46.6% of the electorate voted, electing Bowron by a 2 to 1 margin. Bowron received 233,427 votes against 122,692 for Shaw. The narrowest margin of victory for Bowron was in the black districts. 48 In an editorial, “The Sun Still Shines in la,” the Eagle gave its support to Bowron without regret for its support of Shaw; but warned: “We have every right to feel and believe that Mayor-elect Bowron will not allow racial discrimination in appointments to enter into his program but will treat all groups as Americans worthy of a place in the government. However, this remains to be seen and any other course will be condemned and fought to the last ditch.” 49 In late September, Bowron was sworn in as Mayor, an office he would retain until 1953. He met early on with Shaw and began a purge of the City’s appointed offices, focusing on the police and civil service commissions. There was a flood of resignations by Shaw appointees. Bowron also purged Shaw’s black appointees, including Norman Huston and Paul Williams. There was a major cleansing of the police department. Bowron abolished both the intelligence unit formerly headed by Kynette and the Red Squad. William ‘Red’ Hynes was demoted from captain to regular patrolman and sent to an outlying precinct. Both Chief James Davis and the notorious Sidney Sweetnam were forced into retirement. The Police Commission was purged and replaced with five new members. 50 43 On the floor of the National Association for the Advancement for Colored People’s meeting just before the recall election and as vice-president of the association, I soundly scored the Shaw regime and the attack was considered of such importance that my remarks were given note in several of the leading Negro publications. That I dared to voice my feelings about things around and about this Central Avenue district was considered almost impertinent. Impertinent because there were so many of the Shaw supporters present. But I had my say and the crowd heard me! 47