NYU Black Renaissance Noire NYU Black Renaissance Noire V. 16.1 - Page 48

Symbolic of Miller’s transition into new spheres was his purchase of property at 647 Micheltorena Street in the interracial Silver Lake neighborhood. Silver Lake was a bohemian community with a sizeable contingent of Communists and homosexuals. Next door to Miller resided James H. Garrott, an architect who had designed Miller’s home and a longtime comrade in the Communist movement. Miller left the black belt at a time when restrictive covenants were being actively enforced by the courts in Los Angeles. 66 46 Both Loren and his wife became committee members in the local naacp, with Loren serving on the legal committee, while Juanita participated on the program committee. In the Fall of 1938, Loren teamed up with the actor Clarence Muse to debate J. Cullen Fentress and Frederick M. Roberts on whether the naacp had lived up to its opportunity to fully serve colored people. Among the debate judges were Mrs. Bass, Ivan Johnson, and George A. Beavers. Miller and Muse contended in the spirited debate that the naacp had ignored the common worker and had done nothing to stop lynching. Politics of the pending vote on the Shaw recall also entered the debate. Miller and his wife also participated in a mass drive to recruit new naacp members. Miller was dialogue director for m.g.m (Must Get Money), a fundraising play starring Louise Beavers. The year ended with a victory by naacp lawyer, Charles Huston, in Missouri ex rel. Gaines v. Canada in which the U.S. Supreme Court held that “states must provide Negro students with every educational facility available for whites and that such facilities must be available whenever a Negro requested them.” 67 In 1938 Miller changed his registration to Democrat and became active in the Democratic Party. He was elected to the County Central Committee and served statewide as head of the colored voters division. Miller was co-chairman of the Negro division of the Olson for Governor campaign. The Eagle, which supported the Republican Party, called for an investigation into the source of funds Miller spent in his quest for a seat on the County Central Committee. Miller was also secretary of the Hawkins campaign committee in the 62nd district. Hawkins was up for re-election to the Assembly and had garnered both the Republican and Democratic nominations for the post. He had only nominal opposition from two other candidates. Hawkins won both the Republican and Democratic primaries and was overwhelmingly elected in the November general election. 68 After the 1938 statewide elections, Mrs. Bass had to acknowledge that “California is known as a wide-open state. Hence the recent rise of labor is spectacular. Particularly so is the organization of Negro workers.” 69 Labor and progressives defeated Proposition 1 on the state ballot, which would have placed restrictions on pickets and boycotts by labor and civil rights organizers. A similar measure was passed in Los Angeles during the Shaw recall election, the only major defeat for labor that year in the state. Loren Miller had opposed the local measure, because blacks would find their rights and those of labor to picket and call for boycotts curtailed. In December Leon Washington decided to test the constitutionality of the anti-picketing ordinance. He carried an illegal picket sign and advocated a boycott of the Great Avalon Market, because it refused to hire Negro clerks. Washington was arrested and charges of violating the statute were filed. Loren Miller represented Washington in the case and planned to use it as a test case to determine if the ordinance violated Washington’s constitutional rights. Labor unions and consumer organizations rallied to Washington’s support, with one group indicating it would pay any fine levied against him, if he were unsuccessful. The case was set for trial in January 1939. 70