December 21, 1943
Dear Miss Buck;
Although I had promised myself a period of time free from major interruptions to work on my new book, I broke this promise a short time ago when I accepted the national chairmanship of the Sleepy Lagoon Defense Committee and agreed to assist in the committee's reorganization.
There were several impelling reasons why I accepted this responsibility and I want to tell you about them and then ask you to join me on the Sleepy Lagoon Committee.
The Committee's task is to win justice and freedom for 17 boys of Mexican ancestry. This means, first of all, calling the attention of individuals, liberal organizations and trade unions to the campaign of incitement of race prejudice which ushered in this case; to the injustice done these boys and the entire Mexican-American population, and to the danger to all Americans that this case represents. Thus the Committee hopes to win sufficient support to carry the case through the higher courts.
I am enclosing, for your information, a pamphlet giving details of the Sleepy Lagoon case. I am sure you will agree that this case merits the support of all who believe in democracy and justice to all.
I am convinced, from a thorough study of the case, that the conviction of these boys represents a gross miscarriage of justice. But this is not the only reason why I have accepted the chairmanship of the defense committee.
The cause of these boys is the cause of racial minorities everywhere. I feel that when we defend them we are defending the rights of Jews, Negroes, of any minority against which the terrible weapon of racialism might be turned. I also feel the defense of these boys must be made by the widest possible committee in order to counteract the use being made of this case by Axis agents in the United States, in Latin America and throughout the world to stir up racial animosity and suspicion and to create disunity and discord among the United Nations and their peoples.
You can help us by lending us your name for our list of national sponsors. Among other things you may do is to send us the names of individuals who might be interested in helping. The committee also needs financial assistance. Please write or telegraph me how you intend to help.
Yours for Victory,
Carey McWilliams, National Chairman,
SLEEPY LAGOON DEFENSE COMMITTEE.