work or fight

“You people have the chance to make more.”

Wilson Daily Times, 12 September 1944.

Wartime “work or fight” ordinances required Black men found “unfit” for military duty to work for whomever was offering jobs at whatever the wages. Those who refused or, as here, left low-paying jobs to seek higher-paying work, could be arrested as “vagrants” and sentenced to “the roads,” i.e. hard labor doing road repair.

In September 1944, six men were sentenced under the law:

  • Charlie Roberson
  • Willie Lucas

Perhaps, in 1944, Willie Lucas registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County.

  • Julius Finch

In 1942, Julius Finch registered for the World War II draft in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.

  • Eddie McCoy¬†

In the 1940 census 0f Wilson township, Wilson County: Eddie McCoy, 23, farmer; wife Evella, 21; and children Devella, 2, and Jimmie, 1.

McCoy registered for the World War II draft in 1940.

  • Lem Davis¬†

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Georgia-born Lem Davis, 53, fertilizer plant laborer; wife Mary, 33; and son Jasper, 6, born in Tennessee; plus sister-in-law Annie Allen, 24, tobacco factory laborer, and her children Hilda, 7, Mildred, 6, Helen, 4, and Willie, 1.

Davis was a World War I veteran.

  • Lee Walker

In the 1940 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farm laborer John Farmer, 36, and wife Cora, 35; stepson Lee Walker, 24; stepdaughter Rosa M. Farmer, 8; granddaughter Cora L. Mitchell, 6; and lodger Pauline Currie, 22.

Walker registered for the World War II draft in 1940.