Articles of Interest by Jay B. Itkowitz During his Journalism Career
Winfred Lynn, fought Army bias in '42
Long Island Press, February 23, 1973
It was a different time.
The war was on in 1942, and few were as concerned about segregation in the U.S. armed forces as they were about defeating the hated Axis Powers. But Winfred Lynn, a 36-year-old landscape gardener from Jamaica, had sworn he would not fight in a segregated army.
Lynn later "agreed" to be drafted, though he continued to fight in the courts. His case helped set in motion the forces which resulted in the end of Army segregation in 1948.
Lynn, of Rochdale Village, lived to see better times. But on Wednesday, he died of a heart attack at the age of 66.
Tomorrow at 10 a.m., services will be held at the Phillips J. Foster Funeral Home at 179-24 Linden Blvd., Jamaica.
Lynn was arrested at the end of 1942 when he refused to comply with induction orders from Local Board 261 of Jamaica. He was defended by his brother, Conrad Lynn, a civil-rights attorney, and by Arthur Garfield Hays, chief counsel to the American Civil Liberties Union and law partner of Clarence Darrow.
"My brother was willing, even anxious to fight the Nazis,"Conrad Lynn said yesterday from his Rockland County home. "He had even written the draft board and President Roosevelt offering to volunteer for the Canadian Army because it was not segregated."
In 1943, Lynn, on the advice of his attorneys, agreed to be inducted while he appealed adverse court rulings. His case eventually made it to the Supreme Court in 1945, which denied his contention that the 1940 Selective Service Act forbade discrimination.
Meanwhile, his case drew attention and he was supported by the Lynn Committee to End Discrimination in the Armed Forces, co-chaired by Socialist Norman Thomas and by Dwight MacDonald, now an editor at Esquire magazine.
"The general conception at the time was that Negroes were quite content to be in segregated status in the Army," Conrad Lynn said yesterday. "The chief value of the fight was to make the public - particularly the white majority - aware that black people resented segregation as a mark of inferiority."
"And this, of course, not only led to the abolition of segregation in the Army in 1948, but to the Supreme Court decision of 1954 abolishing segregation in education and in all other forms of public activity," he added.
Lynn served with a chemical warfare brigade in the Pacific, and left the Army as a sergeant. After he returned he studied landscaping, started his own business and worked for estates on Long Island.
According to Conrad Lynn, Winfred Lynn worked five months a year, devoting a good portion of his spare time towards his family and his other passion: bridge. He collapsed and died while teaching a bridge class in New Jersey.
He is survived by his wife, Louise Regan; a daughter, Rose Edmound of Huntington Station; three brothers, Conrad Lynn of Pomona, N.Y.; Samuel Lynn of Lakeview , N.Y.; and Arnold Lynn of Springfield Gardens; three sisters: Gwen Haskins, Dorothy Lynn Speller and Charlotte Robinson, all of Philadelphia; and six grandchildren.