Department Chair

Andrew D. Nicholls, Ph.D., Professor of History

Date of Award


Access Control

Open Access

Degree Name

History, M.A.


History and Social Studies Education Department


Kenneth Mernitz, Ph.D., Associate Professor of History

Department Home page

First Reader

Kenneth Mernitz, Ph.D., Associate Professor of History

Second Reader

Charles Mancuso, M.A., Professor of Music


In 1944, the American Federation of Musicians abolished the practice of subsidiary local chapters, granting autonomous charters to the twelve chapters of African American musicians who were bound to a white parent chapter in their respective cities. While most black musicians in the AFM were organized in “separate but equal” chapters, those under subsidiary status were obligated to pay dues to the white local but generally had no access to union offices, voting rights in union elections, control over booking of and payment for jobs, or representation at the national convention. This change was prompted by years of advocacy by black members of the AFM, led in large part by Raymond Jackson of Buffalo, NY, and this paper examines Jackson’s work on behalf of black musicians in the AFM, both locally in Buffalo and nationally as International Traveling Representative—a liaison between the national AFM and black local chapters, and a position that Jackson himself had a leading role in establishing. Records from Local 533 along with records of the AFM’s annual conventions reveal Jackson’s persistent involvement in pressing the union’s Executive Board for racial equality. The abolition of subsidiary local chapters was an important, if incomplete, step forward for race relations in the AFM that came about largely thanks to the work of Ray Jackson and other African American representatives on behalf of black musicians whose skills were exploited and voices were ignored under the subsidiary system.