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"CCC Youth Refuses To Fan Flies Off Officer"

This account from the Norfolk (Virginia) Journal and Guide, an African-American newspaper, describes the CCC's response to the dishonorable discharge of an African-American corpsman who refused to fan flies off of a white officer. After a protest by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), CCC director Robert Fechner ensured that the man was given an honorable discharge along with backpay. The incident, which took place in September 1933, just months after the start of the CCC, illustrated both the Roosevelt's administration's commitment to ban racial discrimination in New Deal programs and the limits of that promise at the local level.

CCC Youth Refuses To Fan Flies Off Officer; Is Fired 
NEW YORK, N.Y. —It required just one month and six days to get an honorable discharge from the Civilian Conservation Corps and his last month's pay for Eddie Simons, Harlem youth, after the N.A.A.C.P. took up his case. The story is an interesting one, illustrating as it does some of the difficulties confronting young Negroes in the forestry service officered largely by white Southerners, as well as the Willingness of the administration to do justice when pressed for action.
Young Simons was dishonorably discharged and his last month's pay withheld at Camp No. 5, North Lisbon, N.J., on September 26, when he refused to stand and fan flies from a white officer, Lt. J. A. Elmore of the 16th Infantry, temporarily in charge of the camp. Simons told the officer he did not think fanning flies was part of his duty. Lt. Elmore thereupon dishonorably discharged the lad and denied him his last month's pay although admitting that Simons' record was good.
The N.A.A.C.P. immediately took up the case and protested to Robert Fechner, director of the Emergency Conservation Work, who acknowledged his letter, and promised investigation. Three weeks later director Fechner again wrote the N.A.A.C.P. that he had directed that Eddie Simons be given an honorable discharge "free from any charge of insubordination" and that "he be paid all cash allowances and allotments due." 
Source | "CCC Youth Refuses To Fan Flies Off Officer; Is Fired," Norfolk Journal and Guide, 13 January 1934, 7.
Creator | Norfolk Journal and Guide
Item Type | Newspaper/Magazine
Cite This document | Norfolk Journal and Guide, “"CCC Youth Refuses To Fan Flies Off Officer",” SHEC: Resources for Teachers, accessed October 26, 2021,

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