Black and Red

A Journey Through Communism in the Black Community


Celeste Denman

Jackie Scullin

Ryan Goracy


* Background of Blacks and Communism

* Communism in the Harlem Renaissance

*W.E.B. DuBois

*Cyril Briggs

*Richard Wright

*Garvey vs. Briggs

*Current Communist Happenings

* Did You Know?



Black and Red

A History of Communism in African American Culture


The Communist party had its roots in black culture as early as 1919. African Blood Brotherhood leader, Cyril Briggs used his new magazine, the Crusader to argue that capital was “not divided by prejudice and nationality”.  He continually voiced and published his belief that trade unions were racist thus oppressing the working class African American population.  He spoke of Marx and how African Americans could find their home and be taken seriously within the Communist credo. 

The African Blood Brotherhood union began to cooperate with Soviet alliances allowing men and women to have a platform and voice, in the eyes of Cyril Briggs.  The Communist Party organized by the Russian Federation declared its stance on the Negro question in 1920 promoting an united social class.  “ The Communist Party will carry on agitation among Negro workers to unite them with all class conscious workers.” (Record 20)  The Communist Party capitalized on the growing political consciousness of Negroes as they continued to migrate to large metropolitan areas. 

Marcus Garvey, founder of the Universal Negro Improvement Association, became infuriated with these actions and thus began to focus on Briggs’s light skin, constantly calling him a white man who wished to destroy capital.  This conflict came to a head when Briggs sued for character defamation after numerous attacks verbally by Garvey.

In 1927, African Americans spoke at the Communist International Fourth Congress Hearing.  Otto Huiswood argued that blacks could lead the freedom movement for all colored people in his monumental speech.  A year later, statistics showed the break down of actual Negro membership within the party: 14000 blacks had become red.   Lovet Fort Whiteman, the first African American to study in Moscow in 1924, proposed an American Negro Labor Congress to help strengthen the working class.  In 1928, Siberian, Charles Nasonor and thirty year old black American Harry Haywood attempted to resolve the conflict between assimilation and separation with their slogan, “a nation within a nation”, implying freedom through self determination.   They believed that the Negroes in the South shared a different psychological make up from years of slavery and torture and had evolved unknowingly into an untied people. 

            As the popularity of the Communist movement spread through black cities, Cyril Briggs kept a wary eye on white chauvinism within the party.  He believed that with the presence of white power, the newly joined black supporters could not achieve their goals.  Blacks needed to be welcomed and not pitied.  They could not strive as a united people within a racial institution.  Numerous trials followed these accusations as a way to cleanse the communist party of racial ideas and racist white leaders and to prove to black supporters that they too belonged in the communist community.  They realized that the black social status was not much different from that of America as a whole; it had a small elite class a larger middle class of intellectuals and a large working class full of laborers and sharecroppers.  They decided to focus their energy on the lower class. 

Communist Actions

The Communist Party within America was to the first to battle and demonstrate against the Depression hunger era and unemployment.  They constantly fought evictions, supported female equality and defied the social ban on inter racial marriage.  The communist party flourished in the ghettos and slums, especially Harlem.  Here was a party that seemed to have the goal of the working class citizen in mind and was out in public, being vocal and defiant to white power. 

In May of 1935, Howard University held a conference discussing the concerns of the status of the Negro.  It was there that the National Negro Congress was formed.  This newly formed congress signified the growing alliance between the Communists and the black intellectuals during the Popular Front Era.    The National Negro Congress participated in organized labor strikes, resistance to fascism and mass protest tactics against racism.  They fought against the disenfranchisement of the blacks and continually held job campaigns.  It seemed to be meeting the concerns and problems of the African American population. 

            Three organizations united together in 1945: the National Negro Congress, the International Labor Defense and the National Federation for Constitutional Liberties.  This mergence created the Civil Rights Congress lead by Communist William Patterson.  The Civil Rights Congress fought for civil rights and defended victims of the Mc McCarthy era during his hunt for Communist infiltration. 


Goals of Communism and the Race Factor

            The UCP, or Untied Communist Party learned form the African Blood Brothers except in the theory of race relations and racism.  The Communists needed to respond to black ideology to gain this new majority’s support.  And so, the Communist party tried to humanize themselves in their dealings with African Americans.  They began to fight for reforms and adopted a philosophy of self-determination in the Black Belt in 1928.  (The Black Belt being the area of the south where slavery had been dominate)

            Whiteman believed that blacks saw oppression as stemming from a race more that a class situation and that this idea helped bond blacks together.  During the years 1928 and 1930 resolutions were made regarding black policy.  In the North the party believed blacks to be the national minority struggling for social and political equality, while in the South they held a powerful majority and they had the right to secede if they so desired.  They also adopted the credo that racism strengthened capitalism.  They needed to accept blacks in the party while still allowing them to maintain certain sense of uniqueness.  Up until this point, Communist activity south of the Mason Dixon line was negligible.  In 1931 the party made its first real effort in the South.  They set goals of creating unions of sharecroppers in Alabama and Louisiana.  The Sharecroppers Union was met with violent protests from racist whites and dissolved in 1936.   

The party’s prime aim during the twenties was to create and cultivate black leaders.  By sending such intellectuals as James W. Ford, vice presidential candidate in 1932, Eugene Gordon, journalist, and William L. Patterson to Moscow they thought that these newly trained individuals would come back and assert their leadership roles within the party.

The party also tried to work with other organizations including the NAACP during the 1930’s.  The Communist party applauded the changes that organizations had made, yet were not willing to compromise or change their ways.  They often criticized the leaders of the NAACP quite harshly.  During this time the Communist party put its faith with the Democratic Party, retracting insults they had flung earlier at Roosevelt.  They decided that the elite and big business corporations headed the Republican Party and felt that the Democratic Party met more of their needs.   The Party was organized in large urban districts such as New York.  Los Angles, Chicago and Detroit were also homes of the party.

During the 1940’s membership began to dwindle amongst blacks.  But with the appearance of Hitler on the scene, the Communist party began to look patriotic.   The National Negro Congress began advocating equal employment and sought to work with other groups and the national and community levels.  After the war, the Communist Party focused its attention on the Negro soldier demanding equal treatment and helped to create the Untied Negro and Allied Veterans of America. 


The Harlem Renaissance and Communism

Often associated with a flourishing of art, music and literature the Communist Party found a home in Harlem during the Depression.  They held a flexible and sophisticated set of aesthetic values made the Party attractive to many black artists.  The Party helped fund such cultural organizations as the Federal Negro Theatre, which employed 350 people and gave black playwrights a chance to come to life and the Federal Writers Project that studied the role and history of blacks on the New York scene.  They also funded the Harlem Community Arts Center, which helped to present a free stage for many of Harlem’s artists.  These projects gave a tremendous boost to the morale in Harlem.  In 1936 the Communist Party also began action to ensure equality in sports.

Some black intellectuals accused the Communists of funding such projects as the Federal Writers Project to make sure they only published revolutionary texts.  However, the real problem lay in the fact that these artistic values struck a chord with the middle class and intellectuals but not the working class.  So they set out to better the schools creating an organization called the Harlem Committee for Better Schools, which lasted, form 1935-1950.  This group was made up of parents, teachers, church leaders and community groups and helped to form alliances with schools in the area. 

W.E.B. Du Bois


“In the end Communism will triumph – I want to help bring that day”


“Stalin is a great man; few other men of the 20th century approach his stature.  He was simple, calm and courageous.”


               Although many equate W.E.B. DuBois with the Harlem Renaissance and the founding of the NAACP, toward the later years of his life, he joined the bandwagon of the Communist party with the belief that it would help end the oppression of the black race.  He had studied the works of Karl Marx in college and at the University of Berlin and had even attended socialist meetings, thus considering himself a socialist.  

                When he traveled to New York after his education he created the news magazine, The Crisis.  The Crisis held itself up to capitalist morals and thrived on donations from the wealthy.   Fellow colleagues, Mary Ovington. William English Walling and Charles Edward Russell helped to persuade Du Bois to join the socialist  party.

                With this newfound hope in the Communist party, DuBois traveled in 1926 to Communist lands.  Like many other black leaders he saw Communism as a way to uplift the black race and bring about equality.  And so, he officially joined the Communist party in 1961,. two years before his death.  Although he was the creator of the talented tenth theory, DuBois saw the validity of free education and discipline for growth and reform, two beliefs held by the Communist party. 

DuBois's Communist Application Letter

Cyril Briggs


         Cyril Briggs was born in 1888 on the Caribbean island of Nevis.  His father was a plantation overseer and this accounted for Briggs’s light complexion.  Briggs moved to Harlem in 1905 and launched his writing career, finally landing a job with the Amsterdam News in 1912.  In 1917 Briggs founded the African Blood Brotherhood (ABB).  He described his organization as a “revolutionary secret order” dedicated to armed resistance to lynching, opposition to all forms of racial discrimination, and voting rights for black Southerners.  The ABB also opposed American participation in WW1 and linked the struggle for black liberation in the US to the battle against European colonization in Africa.  In 1918 Briggs also started a new magazine called the “Crusader”.  It backed the Socialist Party electoral campaigns of A. Philip Randolph and exposed lynchings in the south and job discrimination in the north.  Briggs believed that the Negro’s true place was with labor and that Blacks would benefit from the triumph of labor and the destruction of the Capitol Civilization.  As a result he joined the Communist Party in 1921.    With the connection to the Communist Party, the ABB began to have Marxist influences.  It focused on higher wages for black workers as well as better working conditions.  He and his ABB comrades now clearly advocated a historic shift in the objectives of the black freedom struggle from assimilation into the bourgeois order to a socialist transformation.  His strong Marxist views angered another black leader of the Harlem Renaissance, Marcus Garvey.  Garvey accused Briggs of being a white man trying to smash government and destroy capital.  Briggs retaliated saying the ABB did not oppose government in principle it just opposed imperialist government.  The feud continued until Briggs was able to help the government nail Garvey for mail fraud.  By 1924 the Briggs and his ABB began to die out because the Communist Party began to change its policy.  It turned toward the American Negro Labor Congress and pulled some blacks in the party away from their community roots.  Although the ABB didn’t last for more than six or seven years it was important because it showed blacks interest in international politics, mainly communism.  Briggs can actually be credited for bringing communism into the black community for this very reason. 

Richard Nathaniel Wright


Born September 4, 1908 in Roxie, Mississippi to a sharecropper and a schoolteacher. 

1931 – Wright becomes acquainted with the communist party and their activities 

1933 – Joins the John Reed Club of leftist writers and authors of Chicago and begins submitting revolutionary poetry to Left Front.  He is then elected executive secretary for the Chicago John Reed Club.

 1934 – Wright joins the Communist party and continues to publish his poetry in different magazines in the area.  During that same year, he began to have cynicism towards the party because they disband the John Reed Clubs and stops publication of Left Front.

 1935 – 1938  Continued to write for other left wing publications such as Midland Left, Anvil, International Literature, Partisan Review, and New Masses. 

 1940 – Wright releases his most successful book, Native Son, which becomes a best seller.  Many people felt that the main character was a symbol for the entire black community.

 1941 – Wright marries, Ellen Poplar, a daughter of Polish Jewish immigrants, and she was also another Communist.

 1944 – Leaves the Communist party because of personal and political differences.


Briggs v. Garvey

While Briggs supported the black laborer and black artists during the Harlem Renaissance, Garvey’s plan was to send all of the blacks back to Africa. He developed the Black Star Line as an easy means for blacks to make their voyage back to the native homeland. Unlike Briggs who believed that blacks could get involved in the community, Garvey believed that the only way blacks could gain control would be by living in a land of their own.

The conflict between the two men grew as each man gained more power in the black community. Briggs’s ideas and actions infuriated Garvey, founder of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA). Garvey fixated on Briggs's light complexion, accused him of being a white man and excoriated Communists for allegedly wanting to smash government and destroy capital. Briggs replied that Garvey had confused capital with capitalism. The former was wealth, while the latter was control of that wealth by the few over the many. The ABB did not oppose government in principle; it simply opposed imperialist government. The Briggs-Garvey feud became increasingly bitter and personal, and reached a public climax when the former sued for defamation. Their magistrate had trouble understanding what was libelous about calling someone white, but nevertheless found for Briggs and instructed Garvey to publish an apology in his paper, The Negro World. Yet Garvey offered no effective response when Briggs reminded readers "that racial consciousness alone was not enough to win freedom in the modern world." There, power rests "partially on race," yet "centrally on corporate, class, national, and military forces". In a move that enhanced neither man's standing, Briggs became a marginal source for the government's effort to nail Garvey for mail fraud. Briggs needed no urging to accept money from the Communists, who recognized that the social distance between classes in the black community was far less than among whites. Soon the party's Daily Worker was likening oppression of African Americans to European imperialism. With the demise of the Black Star Line and his alliance with the KKK, Garvey began to lose popularity in the black community.


Present Day Communist Happenings in the News…


U.S. Department of State Dispatch4/19/93, Vol. 4 Issue 16, p273, 1/6p

     Statement released by the Office of the Assistant Secretary/Spokesman, Washington, DC, April 10, 1993.

The assassination of [South African Communist Party Secretary General] Chris Hani is a deplorable and troubling event. This brutal murder will sadden all who are working for peace, democracy, and justice in South Africa. It underscores the urgent need to end violence in the country and to push ahead with the negotiations which will create a democratic South Africa.

Chris Hani actively supported these negotiations and only this week called for an end to violence so the negotiations could proceed in a climate of peace and stability.


                                  ALIVE AND KICKING

Harvard International Review  Spring93, Vol. 15 Issue 3, p46, 3p

Author(s):   Horwitz, Leora

                           Communism Remains a Potent Force in South Africa


The years from 1989 to 1991 will be forever remembered for the death of Communism: the years of Lech Walesa and BorisYeltsin, the Velvet Revolution and German unification. South Africans, however, will look back on this period as one of communist revival. Speeches by prominent black leaders promised nationalization and redistribution of income; 20,000 people

demonstrated in the streets to celebrate the legalization of the Communist Party in July, 1990; and 130,000 came to a rally supporting the Party in November 1990. As McDonald's was opening its first franchise in Moscow, Joe Slovo, Secretary-General of the South African Communist Party (SACP), was shouting to cheering masses, "We remain absolutely convinced that, despite some of the horrors of Stalinism, it is socialism and only socialism which can, in the end, assure every

individual and humanity as a whole of freedom in its true meaning."

This apparent time-warp persists even today. SACP membership quintupled in the first two years after the organization's legalization, and the trend shows little sign of slowing. Certainly, serious problems still plague the Party. Set adrift by the collapse of communism in Europe and faced with a growing split between moderate leaders willing to compromise in the short term and radical ones advocating the ongoing use of violence, the SACP is in danger of fading into political obscurity in the new South Africa. Nevertheless, the Party retains substantial backing from unionized workers and significant popularity in the townships.

Most importantly, the SACP wields considerable authority in other anti-apartheid organizations, particularly the African National Congress (ANC)--the preeminent anti-apartheid organization in the nation.

The ANC and the SACP have been closely linked for much of their existence. The ANC was founded in 1912, nine years before the SACP was established. At first, they differed considerably--one, a nationalist organization dedicated to promoting black political and economic rights; the other, an international organization committed to the goal of a socialist revolution in South Africa. The SACP was, however, the first, and for many years the only, national political party to admit blacks. As a result, the ANC and SACP have shared members since their earliest years. In 1927, for example, the ANC elected as its Secretary-General one of South Africa's first black communists, Eddie Khaile, who, a year later, was elected to the Central

Committee of the SACP. That year, Moscow also ordered the SACP to work toward establishing a black republic in South Africa, rather than concentrating on the immediate creation of a socialist state.

Their common goals established, the two groups then began to cooperate even more closely. In 1939, Moses Kotane was elected Secretary-General of the SACP, a position he would retain until 1978. Kotane, a widely respected and admired leader of both the ANC and the SACP, did much to foster trust and cooperation between the two groups. Connections between them,

however, continued to rely primarily on common membership and individual personal ties. A new and increasingly vocal ANC faction, the Youth League (which included such members as Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu and Oliver Tambo) had begun to agitate against communism, while the Party frequently criticized the ANC in public.


Source: U.S. News & World Report, 12/30/91 & 1/6/92, Vol. 111 Issue 27, Outlook 1992 p56, 1p, 2c

 Author(s):    Knight, R.; Jones, J.


Dateline: Johannesburg

                    Prediction 12  Three emerging black leaders  to watch in the 1990s

In the 22 months since he walked free after 27 years in prison, Nelson Mandela has come down to earth. Hailed as the man who held the key to ending black oppression in South Africa, he now is increasingly cast as a figurehead -- a ''fine but flawed man suffering from incurable jail lag,'' says one analyst. Nobody doubts that the 73-year-old Mandela will be South Africa's first black president once white rule ends. But other black leaders will shape the ''new South Africa.'' 

Three of the coming generation stand out: Cyril Ramaphosa, 39, the former general secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers and now the African National Congress's chief negotiator; 49-year-old Chris Hani, the newly elected general secretary of the South African Communist Party and onetime militant chief of staff of Umkhonto We Sizwe (Spear of the Nation), the ANC's armed wing; and Thabo Mbeki, 48, the head of the ANC's foreign-affairs department.

A lawyer described by one of his erstwhile management opponents as ''the most competent negotiator I have ever met,'' the articulate Ramaphosa has won praise from black miners and white businessmen alike for his intelligence and ability to compromise from a position of strength. But Ramaphosa's ability to span the racial divide will be tested when the hard political bargaining begins. Moreover, like much of the socialist-inclined ANC hierarchy, he has a poor grasp of the subtleties of


The outspoken, colorful Hani has signaled an uncompromising stance by demanding that an interim government be installed within six months. He was one of the first blacks to take up arms, in a detachment that fought in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) in 1967. Abba Omar, a member of the editorial committee of the ANC journal Mayibuye, describes Hani's chief assets as enthusiasm and energy. ''You can hear him for miles, yapping away with everyone he meets,'' he says.

Unenviable role. If Hani is roughhewn, the British-educated Mbeki is suave and urbane. As head of the international section of the ANC, Mbeki is the organization's most wined and dined member -- a role that suits his emollient manner. Since the ANC was legalized in February 1990, he has had the unenviable job of convincing whites that they have nothing to fear from an ANC government. A mischievous sense of humor adds to his popularity: Not long ago he described the white government as a wheelbarrow because ''it only moves when it is pushed.''

The months of tough constitutional negotiations ahead will put a premium on the ANC's ability to think clearly, compromise where necessary, stay united and sell its decisions to its rank and file. Much will depend on Nelson Mandela, who must sanction any deal. But the responsibility for hammering out the details of black-white rule now rests with a younger generation. 



Author(s):     N.A.

   Source:    Associated Press Online, 01/30/2001

 Papers Shed Light on Communism

WASHINGTON, Jan 30, 2001 (AP Online via COMTEX) -- Papers that had been stashed

in Siberia since America's Red Scare detail Communist Party efforts to recruit blacks in Harlem, steal State Department secrets and organize sharecroppers.

Threaded through the nearly half a million pages retrieved by the U.S government is information on Soviet financing of the Communist Party in America and an ambassador's letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, sent to Moscow by a mole at State.

Experts on the history of the Communist Party's often-hidden activities in the United States say the records, copied in Russia by the Library of Congress, provide an unprecedented view of the radicals at work in the 1920s through 1940s.

"This is the most complete archive of American Communist Party materials scholars have ever had available," said Harvey Klehr, history professor at Emory University.

The collection includes letters by and about John Reed, the radical American journalist and early Soviet hero. Best known for his book "Ten Days that Shook the World," an eyewitness account

of the Russian revolution that was the subject of the movie 'Reds,"' Reed helped organize the Communist Party in the United States and is the only American known to be buried at the Kremlin.

In a 1920 letter to a friend, Reed's wife, Louise Bryant, spoke of her typhoid-stricken husband's death in Moscow and how she watched Soviets pass his grave.

"I have been there in the busy afternoon when all Russia hurries by," she wrote. "Once some of the soldiers came over to the grave. They took off their hats and spoke very reverently: 'What a good fellow he was!" said one. 'He came all the way across the world for us. He was one of ours."'

Most of the newly opened records were sent to the former Soviet Union by communist organizers in the United States. They were shipped there for safekeeping and to keep Moscow abreast of U.S. activities, said Klehr, author of several books on communists in America. He said scholarly works on the U.S. party over the past 50 years have been handicapped by piecemeal records, but the new collection fills in many blanks.

John Earl Haynes, a historian at the Library of Congress, first peeked at the records in 1993, following negotiations with Russian archivists. "I really did have to blow off the dust," Haynes said.

"These are records created in America by Americans, mostly about Americans. Now some people may think they were not particularly good Americans, but they're American records."

The records contain further evidence that communists had infiltrated the State Department in the 1930s. Included are letters from two U.S. ambassadors in Europe to Roosevelt and a senior State Department official. Thanks to a mole in the department, the confidential correspondence, concerning political and economic matters in Europe, ended up in the hands of Soviets. Other materials highlight communist attempts to organize sharecroppers in the South in 1934 and blacks, other minorities and even children in Harlem. Communist staff workers at a "farm school" organizing sharecroppers in St. Louis wrote to their superiors: "The students were given names and addresses in St.Louis to cover their identities."

From the party's perspective, blacks were the most oppressed section of the American population and therefore were prospective recruits. The party's Harlem organizer in 1934 reported on efforts to "develop a proletarian backbone in the broad movement for Negro liberation."

He said 20 children in Harlem were being brought into the cause and party officials were looking into getting them uniforms. Working with children "has possibilities of development into a mass movement," he wrote. Mark Rosenzweig, chief librarian of the New York-based Reference Center for Marxist Studies, which is affiliated with today's Communist Party in America, says the party's work with blacks is a source of pride. "Whatever documentation we can recover about this enriches the story of the party, which is often reduced to a kind of Cold War caricature," he said. But he said he's disturbed that the party was not appraised of the project to open "our records."


Author(s):        N.A.

   Source:   Xinhua News Agency, 01/25/2001

S. African President Makes First Cabinet Reshuffle

JOHANNESBURG (Jan. 25) XINHUA - South African President Thabo Mbeki has made

his first cabinet reshuffle after taking office in June, 1999, the South African Press Association reported.

Deputy Home Affairs Minister Lindiwe Sisulu was promoted Wednesday to the post of Intelligence Minister and Azanian People' s Organization (AZAPO) leader  Mosibudi Mangena was appointed as Deputy Education Minister.

Mangena, who was appointed in his personal capacity, will resign as AZAPO's sole

Member of Parliament (MP), paving the way for a senior party leader to replace him in the National Assembly.

In a bid to jack up the Home Affairs Ministry, which is widely regarded as one of the under-performing government departments, Mbeki has also appointed South African Communist Party chairman Charles Nqakula as deputy minister. Nqakula had served as Mbeki's parliamentary counselor, a role that will now be filled by African National Congress MP Sue van der Merwe.

Mbeki also announced that Inkatha Freedom Party MP Musa Zondi became Deputy Minister of Public Works.


Author(s):     N.A.

   Source:   AP Worldstream, 10/21/2000

South African communists march to protest against banks

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Oct 21, 2000 (AP WorldStream via COMTEX) – In countrywide demonstrations organized by the South African Communist Party, thousands South Africans protested against banks, which they say aren't doing enough to eradicate poverty and transform South Africa.

The South African Communist Party said 40,000 people participated in 14 marches and five demonstrations country wide. "The people of South Africa have spoken, banks and the financial sector as a whole must be transformed," the party said in a statement. The party is demanding that government to be more interventionist by creating laws that better promote transformation. It also called for an immediate halt on the practice of "redlining," which is when banks' classify black residential areas and enterprises as high-risk or non-creditworthy.

"The SACP calls for an immediate end to racism and sexism and discrimination against the working class in general in the lending practices of banks," the party said. The party has given the government and banks have been told to give "considered and positive replies" by Dec. 16 - the Day of Reconciliation, a public holiday in South Africa. "Without satisfactory results, we will be calling on our people to step up popular mobilization directed at banks." The communist party has close ties with the ruling African National Congress. Unemployment among South African blacks exceeds 40 percent, while less than 7 percent of whites are jobless.


Did You Know…? 

The following influential black leaders were considered to have ties with the Communist Party.

·     Margaret Walker

·        Lance Jeffers

·        Claude McKay

·        John Oliver Killens

·        Julian Mayfield

·        Alice Childress

·        Shirley Graham

·        Lloyd Brown

·        John Henrik Clarke

·        William Attaway

·        Frank Marshall Davis

·        Lorraine Hansberry

·        Douglas Turner Ward

·        Audre Lorde

·        W.E.B. Du Bois 

The following were African Americans who at some point could be connected with the Communist Party:

            ·     Ralph Ellison

·        Chester Himes

·        Sterling Brown

·        Langston Hughes

·        Paul Robeson

·        Theodore Ward

·        Countee Cullen

·        James Baldwin ( as a teenager)

·        Richard Durham

·        Alain Locke

·        Willard Motley

·        Rosa Guy

·        Sarah Wright

·        Jesse Fausett

·        Owen Dodson

·        Ossie Davis

·        Dorothy West

·        Marion Minus

                 Robert Hayden



Annotated Texts


Chapman, Michael.  "Black Hero Loved Birth Control and USSR-Hated Religion and America."

    Discussed the movement of W.E.B. DuBois in his later life towards the Communist Party.  talks about his realization towards the benefits of equal rights and dissolution of the elite in an effort to bring about equality for the black population and a political voice.


Mullen, Bill. "Popular Fronts: Negro Story Magazine and the African American            Literary    Response to World War II."  African American Review (1996):5-14.

    Popular Fronts discussed and chronicled the literary history and change of view that happened during the 1940's as black ideology shifted, especially in politics.  It called attention to the Communist party and their efforts to eradicate the color boundary that many blacks faced in politics.  Literary works such as poems and essays reflected the political desires of the Negro race by discussing race and sexual relations within their context.

Naison, Mark.  Communists in Harlem During the Depression.  Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1983.

    Book served as a source describing the trend of the Communist Party in its involvement with the Harlem Renaissance Movement.  Discussed its stance on art, music and literature and its manipulation of those elements in a way to better save the party.  The Harlem area was prime for a party to come in and take advantage if its vulnerable poor people. It gave the ghetto area and the elite a chance to hold political voice and express their desires and artistic merit.

Record, Wilson.  "The Negro and the Communist Party." New York:Atheneum, 1971.

    Traced the beginnings of the Negro and the Communist Party beginning with a detailed discussion of ideas and practices instituted by blacks in political power.  Discussed the strengths and weaknesses of the blacks as a political majority and the benefits and set backs to the Communist movement.  Especially helpful in the Marcus Garvey role within the Communist movement and reasons for his failure.  Heavy discussion in race involvement and alienation.


Robinson, Cedric J.  "Black Marxism." London: Zed Press, 1983.

    Helped us get a better handle on theory of politics and social conscious of the black population as a force of culture.  Focused on particular forces within the Communist movement especially key players such as DuBois, Wright and CLR James. . Depth in topics including issues of slavery and the Communists faced the alienation of blacks and racism within their own structure.  Large focus on capitalism and its weaknesses and gains within the political scene.  Middle class ventures and exploits discussed in length.


Ryan, James G. "IALHI News Service."  H-Pol (2000).

    Historical background to the Communist movement in the black population.  Chronicles  Briggs v. Garvey feud up until pending lawsuit and carries the reader through the struggles of elite black leaders to ensure the equality and power accompanied and believed to be in the Communist Movement.   Focuses mainly on Cyril Brigs and his use of the Crusader to bring about public notice to the party.  Discusses the problem facing the party as it loses black support due to racist attitudes within the party.


  Wald, Alan. "African Americans, Culture and Communism (Part 1)" National Liberation and Socialism (2000).

   This website gave us a listing of all the names attached to the link entitled "Did You Know?"  Its main function in our overall research was simply as a list of references and allowed us to branch off into other directions from the names it supplied.  A considerable amount of information dealing with Cyril Briggs  and the  Goals of the Communist Party were also within this article.  Cyril Briggs was one of the first leaders to of the Communist Party and he championed his new cause through the pages of his weekly Crusader.  He fought for equality and leadership within the Communist Party.  The African Blood Brotherhood served as a model for the Communists in their practices and legal dealings, but not within their social beliefs. Focus on the Black Belt and self determination became a cry of the party.

"Manuscript Collections From the Schomburg Center For Research In Black Culture, the New York Public Library."

      Accessed through Lexis Nexis  and Black Studies Research


    The Civil rights Congress formed in 1945 helped to defend victims of the McCarthy Era and worked with other groups to ensure protection of Civil Rights.  This article not only discusses the formation of the Civil Rights congress but goes on to discuss the National Negro Congress which signaled the movement of the Communist Party in to mainstream black America.  It helped to organize voting registration, and labor forces during the Depression.

"Where Communism is Still in Fashion." Economist (1991): 47.

        This article discussed  the underground existence of  the South African Communist Party.  This party holds a large attraction to the black population with a booming 25,000 membership increase in 18 months.  This party has been underground for 70 years and has finally completed an open legal Congress.