Despite the rhetoric, there are few, if any, ideological movements that have caused more racism, ethnic repression and ethnic bloodshed than Communism – going all the way back to Karl Marx himself. Not long before he produced the Communist Manifesto, Marx expressed his support for “the slavery of the Blacks” in a letter to a Russian acquaintance:
“There is no need for me to speak either of the good or of the bad aspects of freedom. As for slavery, there is no need for me to speak of its bad aspects. The only thing requiring explanation is the good side of slavery. I do not mean indirect slavery, the slavery of proletariat; I mean direct slavery, the slavery of the Blacks in Surinam, in Brazil, in the southern regions of North America.
“Direct slavery is as much the pivot upon which our present-day industrialism turns as are machinery, credit, etc. Without slavery there would be no cotton, without cotton there would be no modern industry. It is slavery which has given value to the colonies, it is the colonies which have created world trade, and world trade is the necessary condition for large-scale machine industry. Consequently, prior to the slave trade, the colonies sent very few products to the Old World, and did not noticeably change the face of the world. Slavery is therefore an economic category of paramount importance. Without slavery, North America, the most progressive nation, would be transformed into a patriarchal country. Only wipe North America off the map and you will get anarchy, the complete decay of trade and modern civilization. But to do away with slavery would be to wipe America off the map. Being an economic category, slavery has existed in all nations since the beginning of the world. All that modern nations have achieved is to disguise slavery at home and import it openly into the New World.”1
As is usually the case with Marx, his economic analysis is completely backward. As Thomas Sowell points out, societies with forced labor creates an atmosphere where hard work is looked down upon, thereby ruining a society’s potential by stigmatizing the work necessary to realize that potential – something that had for a long time produced a noticeable difference in the prosperity of northern States to the poverty of former slave States.2
In addition to his support for slavery, Marx was also a racist. Expressions of bigotry by Marx were so frequent they could fill a whole book – and in fact, it has. Former-Communist Nathaniel Weyl filled 283 pages with examples of Marx’s hatred in his 1979 book Karl Marx, Racist.3
Even though American Communism itself has had limited influence, it has had lasting effects on the poor economic and social status of black Americans.
And this is not unique to the United States. The inclination toward ethnic repression has been passed down to Marx’s ideological descendants. Upon seizing power, the Bolsheviks wasted little time in implementing a policy of genocide. In January of 1919 – the same month Lenin created the Comintern to centralize and command the world’s Communist Parties – the Bolsheviks issued an order declaring: “It is necessary to recognize, based on the experience of the civil war with the Cossacks, that the most merciless struggle with all the upper layers of the Cossacks through their extermination to a man is the only correct policy. No compromises or halfheartedness whatsoever are acceptable” and “it is necessary… to carry out merciless mass terror in relations to all Cossacks have taken part in any way directly or indirectly in the struggle with the Soviet power.”4 Shane O'Rourke, the University of York Russian specialist who uncovered this secret document in the Moscow archives, reports that "Ten thousand Cossacks were slaughtered systematically in a few weeks in January 1919 … it was one of the main factors which led to the disappearance of the Cossacks as a nation.”5 During the 1920s and 30s in Germany the Comintern-controlled Communist Party had to compete with another fringe left movement known as the National Socialist Workers Party (Nazi Party) - both movements were attempting to win over the fringes of German society by trying to outdo each other’s anti-semitism, such as when one German Communist Party leader who would later become a top official in the East German government proclaimed “Whoever cries out against Jewish capitalists is already a class warrior, even when he does not know it . . . Kick down the Jewish capitalists, hang them from the lampposts, and stamp upon them.”6 Then, in 1928, Stalin ordered the Comintern to shift its attacks from extremist movements to focus attacks on moderate movements, which he labeled “social fascists”, to polarize societies and leave only conflicting extremes. In Germany, this had the effect of having the Communist Party working to help the Nazi Party – under the slogan of “First Brown, Then Red” - undermine the already flimsy democracy of Germany and bring Hitler to power.7A decade later, when Stalin signed his pact with Hitler, the Soviet Union rounded up and deported trainloads of Jewish refugees back to Germany where they were handed over to the Nazi SS as a gesture of Soviet good will.8
A Comintern-controlled Communist Party also provoked the creation of a racist government in South Africa, as described in a review of Walter E. William’s 1989 book South Africa’s War against Capitalism: “According to Williams, the color bar broke down when many white miners went off to fight in World War I. On their return they found that the color-blind capitalist mine owners, trying to reduce their costs, had replaced them with lower-wage black workers. The whites demanded that blacks be once more excluded from skilled jobs. In 1922, after the mine owners refused to meet the whites' demands, 20,000 white miners, led by Communists and socialists, went on strike. Some strikers made violent, unprovoked attacks on blacks. Williams points out that one of the strike's leaders was W. H. ''Comrade Bill'' Andrews, [who was] secretary of the South African Communist Party [formed by the Soviet Comintern in 1921]. Marching through the streets of Johannesburg waving red flags, the strikers chanted, ‘Workers of the world, fight and unite for a white South Africa.’ Lester Maddox, meet Karl Marx.
“Although crushed by the government, the strike cemented the alliance between white labor unionists, white socialists, and white nationalists. In 1923 this alliance was formalized by the union of the Nationalist and socialist Labour parties, which went on to win the 1924 elections, then proceeded quickly to set minimum wages and to reestablish occupational licensing of the skilled and semiskilled trades. The purpose of the minimum wages: to price blacks out of the labor market. Williams quotes the white Mine Workers Union's statement that because minimum wages would make black labor more expensive, ‘most of the difficulties in regard to the coloured question ((that is, competition from black labor)) will automatically drop out.’ But as economist Thomas W. Hazlett has pointed out, continuing economic development constantly threatened to undermine the government's artificial restrictions on competition between employees: Employers, mainly white, could still cut costs by hiring equally qualified blacks at lower wages than whites. Whites tolerated this competition during the economic expansion that got rolling in 1940. But when the economic pie ceased to grow, whites in 1948 elected the white supremacist National Party. As Hazlett notes, the party and those who voted for it believed, probably correctly, that the only way to maintain separate labor markets was to maintain spatial and social separation of the races. Thus was born apartheid (the term did not appear until 1943), the policy of explicit racial separation. Under apartheid, South Africa's government classifies all people according to race. It also forbids marriages between whites and coloreds, and it segregates urban areas into sections for whites, coloreds, Indians, and blacks. This last law in particular -- dictating to people where they can buy or rent housing -- is of course an attack on people's right to engage in voluntary exchange with others, just as the restrictive labor laws are. In Williams's words: ‘The whole ugly history of apartheid has been an attack on free markets and the rights of individuals, and a glorification of centralized government power’.”9
Are we to believe that this same empire had the key toward ending racial persecution in the United States? It may seem silly in hindsight, but during the time of these events there were plenty of people who believed just that.
Communists’ efforts to draw black Americans toward Communism started shortly after American Communism’s official founding in the latter half of 1919. Not long after the creation of the Comintern in 1919, the director of its branch in the United States, Ludwig C.A.K. Martens, met with a black American named Lovett Fort-Whiteman to launch the American Communist movement's first campaign to convince blacks that the promise of freedom from the injustices they suffered lies in revolution and the creation of a Soviet America. Documents from U.S. government intelligence that monitored the Communists during that time period speak for themselves:
Exhibit 1: “Radicalism in St. Louis. Subject: Society of technical aid of Soviet Russia. Russian Soviet Government Bureau – Martens,” October 3, 1919.10
Exhibit 2: “Radicalism in St. Louis. Subject: L. Fort Whiteman (colored). The Communists. Russian Soviet Government Bureau – Martens,” October 3, 1919.11
Exhibit 3: “Radicalism in St. Louis. Subject: L. Fort-Whiteman of New York City, N.Y.,” October 7, 1919.12
Exhibit 4: “Radicalism in St. Louis. Subject: L. Fort-Whiteman of New York City, N.Y. (Speech),” October 7, 1919.13
Glenda Gilmore, who accessed the archives of the Comintern for her book Defying Dixie writes:
“Lovett Fort-Whiteman, a black man from Dallas, Texas, became the first American-born black Communist. Earning the title the ‘reddest of the blacks,’ Fort- Whiteman came to Communism through socialism, radical labor activism, and race consciousness.”14 When he was released from jail in1924, he officially joined the Communist Party. “In mid-June, 1924, Fort-Whiteman traveled from Chicago to Moscow as one of roughly five hundred delegates to the Fifth World Congress of the Third International. … The session at which Fort-Whiteman spoke was devoted to ‘discussion on national and colonial question[s].’ Since colonies had not yet industrialized, Fifth Congress delegates debated under what conditions Communists should organize rural peasants like those in Vietnam, Africa, or the American South. Simultaneously, they thrashed out an anti-imperial policy.
“On July 1, a long, warm summer day, Fort-Whiteman rose to educate listeners, including Joseph Stalin and Ho Chi Minh, on the Negro question. He outlined the Great Migration of black Southerners to the North and pointed out that these new black industrial workers were difficult to organize. He advised the Party to move into the South and ‘exploit’ rising dissatisfaction among sharecroppers, a strategy that would pay off, since the ‘negroes are destined to be the most revolutionary class in America.’ … Fort-Whiteman began his education by listening to Fifth Congress delegates call ‘national and race prejudices . . . [the] product of slavery.’ The Fifth Congress institutionalized a permanent Negro Commission in the Comintern, chaired by an American Communist.
“Fort-Whiteman did not return immediately to the United States, but enrolled in the school for colonized peoples, the Kommunisticheskii Universitet Trudyashichsya Vostoka, the Communist University of Toilers of the East, known by the acronym KUTV. He focused on the treatment of minorities within the USSR, which he found extraordinarily encouraging. … Naturally, he filtered his perceptions of racism in the USSR through his memories of racism in the United States. … Audiences everywhere listened raptly as Fort- Whiteman told them of the racial hierarchy in the U.S. South; audiences everywhere disavowed racism in the new Soviet society. Fort-Whiteman became convinced that the USSR had become the ‘first state in the history of the world which ha[d] actually solved the problem of racial discrimination.’ Under his Party name, James Jackson, he wrote to W.E.B. Du Bois ‘from a village deep in the heart of Russia.’ He marveled that in the Soviet Union women and men from all over the world ‘live as one large family, look upon one another simply as human beings.’ ‘Here life is poetry itself!’ Fort-Whiteman exclaimed.
“His studies at KUTV and experience on the ground slowly convinced Fort- Whiteman that he had been wrong when he said that African Americans were discriminated against as a race, not as a class. It helped to realize that racism was a man-made, rather than a natural, phenomenon. Racial oppression sprang from slavery and shored up the post-bellum southern economic structure. Freed people provided a vital cheap labor force, and whites honed new measures to keep them there. ‘Race prejudice is not an inherent thing in the mental makeup of the individual,’ Fort-Whiteman discovered; it was not ‘transmitted thru the blood.’ Instead, ‘race prejudice . . . springs from the capitalist order of the society,’ he declared. White capitalists knew all too well how to ‘divide and rule’ poor whites and blacks. Moreover, a few black people were successful capitalists themselves. It was the ‘Negro proletariat,’ rather than the black middle class, that held ‘the key of salvation of the race’.”15
When he returned to America, Fort-Whiteman went to work recruiting 12 other blacks to go to the Soviet Union - including James Ford, who would be the Communist Party’s Vice Presidential candidate in 1932, 1936 and 1940 – and setting up Communist front groups targeted at blacks. In the course of this effort integrated unions were created in the South. The Communists point to this as evidence of their early enlightenment, but in truth - as Glenda Gilmore explained in an interview with the Charlotte, N.C. radio station WFAE, the Comintern ultimately come to the conclusion that if only white southern workers were "organized" (presumably into unions), there would just be a "reserve" black workforce to take their place. Thus, if there was to be a communist revolution in the south, both would have to be organized at the same time.16 Thus, in a rare instance, the Comintern came to the same conclusion as Walter E. Williams, who wrote: "Union rhetoric would have us believe their main struggle is against employers. They'd also have us believe that the strike is their main weapon in that struggle. That's nonsense. A union's main weapon … is their power to prevent employers from hiring other workers. Without that power, a strike would be little more than a mass resignation."17
Also upon his return to the United States, Fort-Whiteman initiated the disbanding of the African Blood Brotherhood18 – a black self-defense organization which, although only having a peak membership of less than 3,000 members, operated a magazine which in the words of the Brotherhood’s founder and leader Cyril Briggs in a letter to historian and ex-communist Theodore Draper “had a peak circulation of 36,000 and reached many Negro communities throughout the country”19 and had become the Communist Party’s most successful tool in their attempts to gain a black American audience after its leaders had been recruited into the Communist Party in 1921.20 In the Brotherhood’s place, Fort-Whiteman and black Communists formed the Party-controlled American Negro Labor Congress, hoping to continue the work they were doing under the Brotherhood on a more Party line basis. It was a disaster. In his letter to Draper, Briggs wrote: “After I, Dick Moore, and some other members of the Supreme Council joined the CP, we sought to and succeeded in establishing a close relationship between the two organizations. This was successful, however, only in northern industrial centers. Few of our Southern members joined the CP or followed us into the American Negro Labor Congress when we decided to liquidate the Brotherhood and turn our efforts to building the Congress.”21
An FBI report from Chicago dated November 5, 1925 recounts the events of the ANLC founding conference. Two events detailed in the report include:
- October 25th, 1925: “Lovett Fort-Whitman, national organizer of the Congress, made the principal talk. In brief, his remarks were that ‘the aim of the congress is to mobilize and coordinate into a fight-machine the most enlightened and militant and class conscious workers of the negro race in the struggle for the abolition of lynching, Jim Crow'ism, industrial discrimination, political disfranchisement, and segregation of the race.’ He attacked President William Green of the American Federation of labor as misrepresenting that body, stating that the negroes want no Jim Crow unions. Continuing, he said: ‘We demand that the American Federation of labor tear down the barriers that segregate us from the white workers and keep us out of the white unions. We colored workers will, through this congress, correct the mistakes of our white brothers, who have been foolishly misled by the wrong kind of leaders.’ He concluded with a class-conscious appeal, stating that ‘the natural enemies of the negro are the boss, the landlord and the capitalist’. ”22 (Fort-Whiteman’s conclusion about the enemy of the black worker being “the capitalist” is in direct contradiction with the attitudes of the black leadership leaders of the time, including Marcus Garvey, who, as recounted by Walter Williams, urged “blacks to undercut union wages as a means to employment and combating union racism, [stating] ‘the only convenient friend the Negro worker or laborer has in America at the present time is the white capitalist ’.”23
October 27th, 1925: “Delegate Richard Moore made the principal talk of the session in denouncing Booker T. Washington, founder of Tuckagee University for ‘continuing the policy of slavish submission of the Negro race and repudiating its demand for social equality.’ He urged the Negro Labor Congress to adopt resolutions repudiating the leadership of Washington and other subservient negro leaders who condone the imposing of of degrading restrictions on the negro race.”24
Exhibit 5: Communist Richard Moore denounces Booker T. Washington at the founding conference of the American Negro Labor Congress. FBI report from Chicago, November 5, 1925.25
That last example, the attack on Booker T. Washington, is noteworthy not only because it is untrue, but in fact attacked what was probably the single most important economic necessity of blacks in the post-Civil War era – the need to develop the skills and education that would enable blacks to break their dependency on white landowners. As Thomas Sowell wrote: “what Booker T. Washington offered was not a new set of goals but a new order of priority in the existing goals. ... Washington's top priority was to meet ‘the real needs and conditions of our people’ with basic skills and discipline … Tuskegee Institute concentrated on the most basic, pragmatic concerns – work habits, hygiene, character. Its aim, in the words of one of its teachers, was ‘the promotion of progress among the many, and not the special culture of the few.’ This was the thrust of Washington's general social and political philosophy as well. He declared that ‘political activity alone’ could not save the Negroes, for ‘back of the ballot he must have property, industry, skill, economy, intelligence and character. …’
“From the outset, Washington expressed his desire that ‘all privileges of the law be ours,’ that there be ‘universal free suffrage,’ and that the law be applied ‘with absolute honesty ... to both races alike.’ … Privately, he aided and financed federal court challenges to Jim Crow laws and sought to favorably influence political decisions affecting blacks from behind the scenes. But the major thrust of Washington's public utterances and educational activity was toward economic advancement and character development among the black masses. Although consumed by this goal, he did not consider it the ultimate limit of black aspirations, but as a necessary historical stage that would ‘prepare the way for successful lawyers, Congressmen, and [teachers].’” While other black freedom fighters such as W.E.B. Du Bois put their emphasis on the necessary work of political action for legal rights, they also saw the importance of developing such basic societal needs within their newly freed communities. 26
The fact that Communists disparaged these efforts can only reveal either their ignorance or malice.
There was a significant change in Party policy in 1928. Making the final move in the power struggle that had engulfed the Soviet leadership since the death of Lenin, Stalin made his move against fellow Bolshevik Nikolai Bukharin and, having gained the upper hand, purged the Comintern of Bukharinites by initiating a shift to an anti-reformist ultra-left. This era would come to be known as the “Third Period”. As a result, the Comintern was able to convince Harry Haywood, one of the Black Americans recruited by Fort-Whiteman, to adopt a new policy.27 The new policy came as a surprise to the new ANLC head chosen for the mission, William Nowell. Nowell – years later, after he defected from the Communist Party and became an anti-Communist – recounted to police investigator Jacob Spolansky how he had received his instructions during a visit to the Soviet Union:
“ ‘Comrade,’ [Nowell was told], ‘we consider you the best available choice for our Negro program in the South.’
‘We have decided that a separate Negro republic should be established in the South, a buffer state under our leadership.’
The details were filled in for Nowell, and, as he later explained to [Spolansky], the program called for the Negro population of the United States, a minority group which the Soviet has long courted and coveted, to play a featured role in the timetable of the revolution prescribed for America.
Handing the startled Nowell a crudely drawn map, the Russian official bluntly demanded: ‘Do you recognize this, Comrade?’
Nowell examined the drawing for a few seconds and then replied, ‘Yes, it looks like a map of part of the southern portion of the United States.’
The Communist leader grunted. ‘We call it the “Black Belt,”’ he explained. ‘It represents more than fifty counties in which is concentrated the heaviest Negro population.’
The fantastic scheme of the Russians called for intensive missionary work in that area to arouse the Negroes to form their own separate republic.
‘Thus,’ Nowell was told, ‘when the revolution is launched by the workers of the North, at our signal, the Negroes of the South, well organized, will deliver a crushing attack from the rear against capitalism. Do you understand?’
‘I think so’.”28
The Comintern went looking for the Southern racial powder keg which they imagined they could ignite into a full-scale Communist revolt – and they thought they had found it in Gastonia, North Carolina. Southern Cultures, journal of the Center for the Study of the American South at the University of North Carolina, describes it this way: “Although only one of literally dozens of episodes of labor strife that rocked Piedmont textile communities in 1929, the Gastonia strike captured more national and international media attention than any of the others because of the sensational murders of Police Chief Orville F. Aderholt and Ella May Wiggins, and, equally important, because, unlike all of the other conflicts, it was orchestrated by a New York-based Communist trade union, the recently formed National Textile Workers’ Union (NT WU). … The Gastonia strike began on April 1, 1929, when 1,800 Loray Mill workers walked off their jobs to protest the intolerable shop floor conditions under the stretch-out. Under the local leadership of Fred E. Beal, a thirty-three-year-old Massachusetts Communist who had secretly been organizing a union local in the plant since January, the NT WU promptly called a strike. Among other concessions, the strikers demanded a minimum $20 weekly wage, a forty-hour work week, union recognition, and the abolition of the hated stretch-out system. Within a few weeks, Ella May Wiggins and hundreds of other workers from surrounding Gaston County mills joined the rebellion.”29 The strike collapsed within months, and the Communists largely failed to organize integrated unions – resulting in a failure to organize black workers because, as black workers explained to Communist John Owens (who dutifully reported it to the Comintern), they feared that organizing would be tantamount to quitting.30 However, the strike - and especially the martyrdom of union activist Ella May Wiggins – did have lasting effects. It inspired organized labor toward the use of militancy to achieve their ends, brought much needed attention to communist labor movements (as opposed to labor movements which were not demanding a Soviet form of government) and codified the use of situation-oriented labor songs for Communists. The Gastonia labor songs would go on to inspire the Communist folksingers Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie, whose songs contributed greatly to the militant mass labor movements of the 1930s and continue to serve as agitation tools for militants and radicals to this day.31
Ironically, by choosing to ignore the racism of the strikers they were organizing - as black Communist Otto Hall observed during his work with the strike: "The attitude of these cracker strikers toward the Negro has not been changed a bit. Our comrades down here have retreated before them on the Negro question and have let them have their way"32 - the Communists had put themselves on the same side as the racists they claimed to be fighting against. This was especially the case with their demand for a minimum wage. Thomas Sowell writes that “[t]he last year in which the black unemployment rate was lower than the white unemployment rate was 1930. That was also the last year in which there was no federal minimum wage law.” That law, the Davis-Bacon Act of 1931, “required that ‘prevailing wages’ be paid on government construction projects—‘prevailing wages’ almost always meaning in practice union wages.”33 Sowell’s friend and fellow economist, Walter E. Williams, explains that during the legislative debate for the Davis-Bacon Act, “the racial objectives were clear. Rep. John Cochran, D-Mo., said he had ‘received numerous complaints ... about Southern contractors employing low-paid colored mechanics getting work and bringing the employees from the South.’ Rep. Clayton Allgood, D-Ala., complained: ‘Reference has been made to a contractor from Alabama who went to New York with bootleg labor. ... That contractor has cheap colored labor that he transports, and he puts them in cabins, and it is labor of that sort that is in competition with white labor throughout the country.’ Rep. William Upshaw, D-Ga., spoke of the ‘superabundance or large aggregation of Negro labor.’ American Federation of Labor President William Green said, ‘Colored labor is being sought to demoralize wage rates.’ For decades after Davis-Bacon enactment, black workers on federally financed or assisted construction projects virtually disappeared. The Davis-Bacon Act is still on the books, and tragically today's black congressmen, doing the bidding of their labor union allies, vote against any effort to modify or eliminate its restrictions.”34
In the early 1930s, the Communist Party’s outreach toward African Americans was reaching its decade long peak. Across the South, the Party was leading a struggle against the Jim Crow system, best exemplified by their defense of nine African Americans accused (based on less-than-reliable evidence) of raping two white women on a train to Scottsboro, Alabama, in 1931. On the outside and to the ordinary Communist Party member, the Party’s anti-Jim Crow activities of the 1930s appeared noble. But the real powers behind the Communist Party had a more sinister goal. As William A. Nolan recounts in his classic book, Communism versus the Negro: “There is more than a suspicion that the communist leaders deliberately schemed to keep the Scottsboro boys in prison. Manning Johnson, who had been a member of the communist party for ten years and who had served on its National Committee for three, publicly testified to the insincerity of the communist defense of the Scottsboro boys.
“No. 3 [i.e., third reason why Johnson left the Party] was the insincerity of the Communists in the Scottsboro case. We were constantly told by James W. Ford and others that we were not interested in saving the lives of the ‘damn’ Scottsboro boys; that we were interested in using the Scottsboro case to penetrate Negro churches and civic organizations which we could not reach except for a cause of that kind, and in the course of the development of this campaign to raise the slogans of the Communist Party, and during our contacts with these large masses of Negroes to seek out the best elements among them and recruit them into the party.
“Anybody who did not want to carry out that particular line was considered an opportunist. It was around this issue we had some sharp differences, and some very good people who had come into the movement because of sincerity were expelled from the party.”35 In fact, the Communists’ involvement in the Scottsboro case was spearheaded by a Party activist named Sol Auerbach (also known by his Party name – James S. Allen), who had spent time in the Soviet Union, had traveled to the South for the purpose of starting a Party newspaper and was an advocate of the Party’s southern African American separatist strategy.36 And it was the Comintern who used its propaganda arm to make the Scottsboro Case an international spectacle, as was discovered in the Comintern archives after the collapse of the Soviet Union.37 There is no evidence that the Moscow-based Communist International cared about the fate of the Scottsboro defendants beyond propaganda purposes. In 2003, a Historian, Dan Flynn, wrote of the Communist Party’s involvement in the Scottsboro case: “[I]n reality the Communists merely used the embattled youngsters. Richard Gid Powers points out in Not Without Honor that the Communists had raised $250,000 for the Scottsboro Boys’ defense, but had put-up a scant $12,000 for two appeals.”38 But the campaign did attract a number of blacks to the Communist Party, and that influence lingers to this day. Barack Obama’s mentor Frank Marshall Davis credited the Scottsboro campaign for bringing him to Communism.39 In addition to this, Angela Davis, a former leading member of the Communist Party, in an April 15, 2009 interview conducted by Julian Bond as part of the NAACP’s “Explorations in Black Leadership” series, explained that her mother “was a member of the Southern Negro Youth Congress”, an organization completely under the control of the Communist Party, and “was involved in the campaign to free the Scottsboro Nine. And as a child, I had the opportunity to spend time with black communists who had come to Birmingham to help organize there, to help organize the Southern Negro Youth Congress”. When asked by Bond “if your mother’s political activity engaged you in some sort of way”, Davis replied: “Well, yes … My parents knew who was a member of the Communist Party and who was underground so I remember this kind of fear of the FBI and I also remember being— learning that you never talked to the FBI. When I was six years old, if they asked me any questions, you know, don’t answer at all.”40 That the NAACP would be honoring Angela Davis shows how much that organization has changed since it helped lead the Civil Rights movement under the anti-Communist leadership of Roy Wilkins – a time of the organization’s greatest accomplishments, such as its victory in Brown v. Board of Education. The difference in attitude can be seen in a letter Wilkins wrote to the Communist Party’s William Patterson (then head of the Communist-front “Civil Rights Congress”) in 1949:
“We remember the Scottsboro case and our experience there with the (Communist front) International Labor Defense, one of the predecessors of the Civil Rights Congress. We remember that the present Civil Rights Congress is composed of the remnants of the ILD and other groups. We remember that in the Scottsboro case, the NAACP was subjected to the most unprincipled vilification. We remember the campaign of slander in the Daily Worker. We remember the leaflets and the speakers and the whole unspeakable machinery that was turned loose upon all those who did not embrace the ‘unity’ policy as announced by the communists.
“We want none of that unity today.
“We of the NAACP remember that during the war when Negro Americans were fighting for jobs on the home front and fighting for decent treatment in the armed services we could get no help from the organizations on the extreme Left. They abandoned the fight for Negro rights on the grounds that such a campaign would ‘interfere with the war effort.’ As soon as Russia was attacked by Germany they dropped the Negro question and concentrated all effort in support of the war in order to help the Soviet Union. During the war years the disciples of the extreme left sounded very much like the worst of the Negro-hating Southerners.”41 The Communist Party’s outreach to African Americans in the 1930s were indeed dealt a serious blow by the Party’s subservience to the Soviet Union during the radical shift in policy during the Nazi-Soviet Pact (1939-1941) and a second radical shift once the Germans attacked the Soviets (mid-1941). Now the Party, who had spent much of the 1930s comparing the southern United States to Nazi Germany, was put in a position of defending the Soviet Union’s collaboration and attacking those who advocated support for anti-fascist forces and nations as “imperialists” – and pushing the line that black Americans’ true enemy is American capitalism.42 Then all those efforts aimed at fighting Jim Crow were dropped once the Germans invaded the USSR because, as Party leader Earl Browder admitted in 1945, the Party’s policy in 1942 became “…the struggle for Negro rights must be postponed till after the war …” to focus on supporting the war effort.43
The Single most visible Black American Communist to trumpet the Soviet Union’s cause was Paul Robeson. In his testimony before the House Committee on Un-American Activities on July 14, 1949, Manning Johnson, a former member of the Communist Party’s Negro Commission and its National Committee, and thus was privy to information about secret members of the party, reported: “I have met Paul Robeson a number of times in the headquarters of the National Committee of the Communist Party, going to and coming from conferences with Earl Browder, Jack Stachel and J. Peters. During the time I was a member of the Communist Party, Paul Robeson was a member of the Communist Party. Paul Robeson, to my knowledge, has been a member of the Communist Party for many years. In the Negro Commission of the National Committee of the Communist Party we were told, under threat of expulsion, never to reveal that Paul Robeson was a member of the Communist Party because Paul Robeson's assignment was highly confidential and secret. For that reason, he was not permitted to attend meetings of the National Committee of the Communist Party, or any other than broad, general meetings. Paul's assignment was to work among the intellectuals, the professionals and artists that the party was seeking to penetrate and influence along Communist lines. As long as Paul Robeson's identity with the party was kept secret, so long would his work among these groups be effective and serve the best interests of the party … .”44
There are two corresponding accounts of what turned Robeson’s views so sharply to the left in 1934:
Harvey Klehr, reviewing the definitive biography of Robeson by Martin Duberman45 writes: “In the early 1930′s Robeson suddenly swung to the political Left. Duberman, linking his new militancy to the collapse of a three-year romance with a white Englishwoman, speculates that her decision to end the relationship reinforced Robeson’s belief that the white, Western world would always reject him. Be that as it may, in 1934 Robeson angrily announced that the ‘modern white American’ was a ‘member of the lowest form of civilization in the world today,’ and in the same year he accepted an invitation to the Soviet Union. Once there, he was smitten: ‘Nights at the theater and opera, long talks with [the director Sergei] Eisenstein, gala banquets, private screenings, trips to hospitals, children’s centers, factories . . . all in the context of a warm embrace.’ Convinced that the Soviet Union had abolished racial prejudice, Robeson felt, he said, ‘like a human being for the first time since I grew up.’ It was the start of a lifelong romance.”46 The New York Times’ obituary of Robeson (likely Robeson's own account, so credibility is questionable): “In 1934, passing through Germany on his first of many visits to the Soviet Union, he was the object of racial epithets from Hitler's storm troopers, and he was angered. Arriving in Moscow, where he was feted, he was impressed, he said, by the absence of racial prejudice among Soviet citizens.”47 As Ronald Radosh recounts in his memoir Commies - “By the onset of the Cold War, Robeson's career had been cut short, as the singer squandered his early success by dedicating himself relentlessly to a vigorous defense of the Soviet Union and Joseph Stalin. In particular, his statement at a Soviet-sponsored "peace congress" in Europe, that American Negroes would not fight on their own country's side in a war between the United States and the Soviet Union, brought down the wrath of the nation upon him. The great baseball hero Jackie Robinson reluctantly appeared in public before the House Committee on Un-American Activities to let it be known that he differed strongly with Robeson, and from that point on, the singer's career was all downhill. Of course, that meant that Robeson would become an even greater hero of the Communist Left in America, who took him to their heart and proclaimed him the nation's single greatest public figure.”48 While Robeson’s supporters continue to this day to insist that Robeson was quoted inaccurately, at a “Welcome Home Rally” in New York on June 19, 1949, he clarified: “I said it was unthinkable that the Negro people of America or elsewhere in the world could be drawn into war with the Soviet Union. I repeat it with hundredfold emphasis: they will not.”49
While he insisted black Americans would never fight for America against the Soviet Union, he actively supported those Americans, black and white, who fought for the Comintern. In an interview with the anti-American network Democracy Now!, Marxist singer Harry Belafonte recounted how “Paul Robeson, who was a mentor and a man for whom I had enormous love and admiration … went everywhere there was the opportunity to be heard, whether it was going into Spain to sing during the great Spanish revolutionary war in ’30s, whether it was going to England.”50
In the mid-to-late 1930s, the Communist Party misled black Communists to willingly give life and limb for a cause they misunderstood – a misunderstanding resulting from an intricate web of lies and two-faced schemes woven together by the Soviet Union. One of the great rallying cries of revolutionary Pan-Africanist and Black Nationalist movements was to assist Ethiopia, which at that time was the only independent black African nation, to resist the invasion it suffered at the hands of Fascist Italy. The Soviet Union and its surrogate organizations joined in these calls to defend Ethiopia – while at the same time the Soviets continued selling vital war materials to Italy, which were promptly put to use by the fascist conquerors.51 That did not stop the Communists from exploiting this rally cry to draw blacks into the Party and its causes – including leading their black “comrades” toward joining millions of others in suffering one of the most infamous betrayals of modern times. On July 25, 1936, the Spanish Republic, besieged by a military rebellion led by the Italy-supported General Francisco Franco, asked the Soviet Union for assistance. The response was an effort by the Comintern to recruit volunteers from Communist Parties around the world to go to Spain and fight. One of the recruiting tools the Communist Party USA used to recruit more than 80 blacks to join the thousands of Americans who travelled to fight in Spain was to present the Spanish Civil War as an extension of the Italian war in Ethiopia, adopting, in early 1937, a slogan of: “Ethiopia’s fate is at stake on the battlefields of Spain.”52 Ultimately, the Soviet Union was able to have its agent take control of the Spanish army – resulting in a Stalinist police-state which expended most of its energy hunting down other/non-communist left-wing groups then fighting Franco. In the meantime, Stalin’s agents pilfered Spain’s gold reserves in exchange for insufficient arms for the Spanish government forces and its allies – who were then sent to the front to meet certain death and defeat like cattle led to the slaughter. Weakened from within, the Spanish republic fell to Franco. Stalin’s betrayal of Spain has been well documented with material from the Comintern archives.53 So, not only did the Soviet Union deceivingly draw these black Americans into Communism by decrying an atrocity in Ethiopia that the Soviets themselves assisted in, but the Soviets then drew them into a battle in Spain, where they betrayed Spain as well, making the bloodshed of these black Americans in vain. And Robeson was a key participant in that deceit.
“It would take almost a half century more, after Robeson's death,” Dr. Paul Kengor wrote in the American Spectator, “for Communist Party USA to publicly concede the obvious: Paul Robeson had been a longtime secret member. In May 1998, the centennial of Robeson's birth, longtime CPUSA head Gus Hall finally, proudly revealed the truth. In this birthday tribute to ‘Comrade Paul,’ Hall and CPUSA came bearing gifts. ‘We have a birthday present for Paul that no one else can give,’ said Hall, ‘the full truth and nothing but the truth.’ And what's that truth? ‘Paul was a proud member of the Communist Party USA,’ stated Hall unequivocally. Paul had been a man of communist ‘conviction.’ This was ‘an indelible fact of Paul's life,’ in ‘every way, every day of his adult life.’ He ‘never forgot he was a Communist.’ A teary-eyed Hall recalled that his ‘own most precious moments with Paul were when I met with him to accept his dues and renew his yearly membership in the CPUSA’.”54
Professor Harvey Klehr, one of the world’s leading scholars on American Communism, stated in an interview that the Communist Party was, for the most part, too busy defending itself from government scrutiny in the 1940s and 1950s to make as forceful an effort to influence black Americans as they had during the thirties. But among the most significant exceptions was that of Hunter Pitts "Jack" O’Dell. Having come to Communism in the 1940s, by the 1950s O’Dell became one of the Party’s leading activists in the South.55 Morris Childs, a leading member of the Communist Party and secretly an FBI agent, reported on a discussion that took place in a February 10, 1959 meeting during the "Twenty-first Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union" between some of the leaders of the Soviet Union, among them Mikhail Suslov and a CPUSA delegation consisting of Morris Childs and a black Communist Party leader named James Jackson. After presenting letters detailing all the wonderful things the "various peace movements in the CP, USA" were up to, posing the idea of a "Negro magazine dealing with theoretical questions" (two years later, Jackson would co-found Freedomways - a magazine in which, as stated by Paul Buhle in the Marxist-Leninist Monthly Review “no one wrote more often … essays and unsigned editorials alike” than Jack O’Dell56 – and Jackson would serve as the managing editor from 1961-86) and asking for $300,000 and health care treatment in the Soviet Union for CPUSA's aging leaders, Jackson starts complaining about the leadership of the Party's National Executive Committee and says that the Party's policies toward the "Negro question" need to be updated.57 As recounted by Ronald Radosh, based on the FBI files, Suslav “tells the comrades that the Party has to give up its thesis that American blacks composed a separate nation and had to fight for the right of self-determination for its majority in the black belt of the South. Suslov, who under Brezhnev would become the chief ideologue of Moscow, told them they cannot make policy based on 30 year old Comintern directives, at a time when American blacks lived in urban areas and were fighting for Civil Rights and desegregation. He gave them the go ahead to get involved in the freedom movement that was then beginning to emerge, and join its fight in order to try and give it direction.”58 Thereafter, O’Dell was assigned by the Party to infiltrate Martin Luther King Jr.’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference and work his way to becoming one of Dr. King’s top advisors.
King had a natural affinity against the inherent violence of Soviet Communism. As he wrote to his future wife Coretta Scott in 1952, he preferred Edward Bellamy-style utopianism to Communism: “I think you noticed that Bellamy emphasized that the [change?] would be evolutionary rather than revolutionary This, it seems to me, is the most sane and ethical way for social change to take place. This, it will be remembered, is one of the points at which socialism differs from communism, the former [strikeoutillegible] emphasizing evolution and the latter revolution. Communist would insist that the means justify the end. So if lulling a thousand people will bring about a good end the act is ethically justifiable. It is at the point that I am radically opposed to communism. Destructive means cannot bring about constructive ends. The mean does not necessarily justify the end, for, I would insist that the end is pre existent in the mean.”59 After his early successes in attaining his Civil Rights goals, Dr. King’s emphasis shifted toward more radical economic and political demands, the most noteworthy of which being his April 4th, 1967, speech demanding an end to U.S. involvement in Vietnam, proclaiming the U.S. government as "The Greatest Purveyor of Violence in the World Today". What prompted Dr. King to speak out against the Vietnam war was an article and photo essay run in the January 1967 edition of Ramparts magazine entitled “The Children of Vietnam”, which claimed that (from 1961 up until the time the article was written) nearly half-a-million children had been killed as a result of American actions, particularly the use of napalm, and presented 22 photographs purporting to show children injured by American bombs. A problem with the story became immediately apparent when it was reported that the statistic the authors, one-time card carrying Communist Benjamin Spock60 and "New" Left Marxist William Pepper, site for the number of children killed by US forces was fraudulent - Pepper claimed to have gotten a large pre-1963 death number from Hugh Campbell, former Canadian member of the International Control Commission in Vietnam who was monitoring the war, but when Campell was asked about Pepper’s claims by the Associated Press, Campell stated that he said no such thing.61 When I (Spyridon Mitsotakis) sent a copy of the essay to General Ion Mihai Pacepa, former chief of Communist Romanian intelligence and the highest ranking Soviet-bloc intelligence official ever to have defected to the United States, and asked “If the authors lied about [the statistics], then what else are they lying about?” He responded: “I saw hundreds of very similar pictures showing so-called children victimized in Vietnam that my Romanian service, the DIE, got from the [Soviet-run and financed] Stockholm Conference and from the KGB. They were all produced in the KGB's photo labs … The Disinformation department of the Stockholm Conference and the Disinformation department of the KGB sent them to my Disinformation Department, to be used in various disinformation operations. Most of these pictures were further sent by my DIE to the Italian, Greek, and Spanish Communist Parties, whose logistic and propaganda departments were serviced by Bucharest. The CPUSA was serviced by the KGB. Ramparts was also directly connected with the KGB.” According to Clarence Jones, the King advisor who has helped put together the “I have a dream” speech, King had turned down Jones’s moderate drafts for a Vietnam speech and opted for the advice given by more radical advisors62 – something that is apparent in King’s flawed retelling of the Vietnam War’s history, which contained many of the false anti-war clichés of the time.63 Though O’Dell had succeeded in distracting King from his vital Civil Rights work, it was not before King and the authentically American Civil Rights movement he led dealt the legal and political death blow to national shame of segregation. The promise of Civil Rights to all Americans was realized – and it was done so without a Communist Revolution. The Party had failed.
With the Party’s failure, in 1959, with the fall of Cuba to Communism, the Soviets shifted their attention toward New Left and Black Nationalist terrorism and the emerging religious left. Using a puppet publishing company, Marzani & Munsell, Inc., the KGB launched the book Negroes With Guns by fugitive Robert F. Williams.64 The book was the main inspiration for Huey Newton to form the Black Panther Party, an ultra-violent Marxist group responsible for hundreds of murders.65 Williams formed the terrorist Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM) which, working from Cuba and with Cuban intelligence (all overseen by Soviet intelligence), plotted attacks such as a plot to blow up the Statue of Liberty and plans to assassinate public figures like Robert F. Kennedy and NAACP leader Roy Wilkins.66 These connections and plots laid the foundation for the Cuban-sponsored Weather Underground and Black Liberation Army terrorism of the coming decades.
The Kremlin also used its new puppet state in Cuba to launch a new religion to ensnare the religious left. As described by General Ion Mihai Pacepa: “My first contact with the KGB effort to use religion to expand the Kremlin’s influence abroad took place in 1959. ‘Religion is the opiate of the people,’ I heard Nikita Khrushchev say, citing Marx’s famous dictum, ‘so let’s give them opium.’ The Soviet leader had come to Bucharest together with his spy chief, General Sakharovsky, my de facto boss at that time, who in 1949 had created the Securitate, Romania’s equivalent of the KGB, and became its first Soviet adviser. Khrushchev wanted to discuss a plan for taking over West Berlin, which had become the escape-hatch through which over three million East Europeans had fled to the West. At that time I was acting chief of the Romanian Mission in West Germany and chief of Romania’s intelligence station there, and as a ‘German expert,’ I attended most of the discussions. ‘We'll get Berlin,’ Khrushchev assured us. His ‘secret weapon’ was Cuba. ‘When the Yankees learn we’re in Cuba, they’ll forget West Berlin and we’ll take it over as well. Then we’ll use Cuba as springboard to launch a KGB-devised religion into Latin America,’ which Khrushchev portrayed as an already besieged citadel that would soon surrender to the Kremlin. Convoluted? Absolutely, but that was how communist tyrants’ minds worked. Khrushchev called the new KGB-invented religion Liberation Theology. … In 1968, the KGB-created CPC [Christian Peace Conference] was able to maneuver a group of leftist South American bishops into holding a Conference of Latin American Bishops at Medellin, Colombia. The Conference’s official task was to ameliorate poverty. Its undeclared goal was to recognize a new religious movement encouraging the poor to rebel against the ‘institutionalized violence of poverty,’ and to recommend it to the World Council of Churches for official approval. The Medellin Conference did both. It also swallowed the KGB-born name ‘Liberation Theology.’ Liberation Theology was then formally introduced to the world by the World Council of Churches. Recent disclosures show that a whole army of KGB cooptees and deepcover officers was sent from Moscow to help.” In January of 2009, when the bells at Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow announced that a new patriarch of the KGB/FSB controlled Russian Orthodox Church had been “elected”, Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk, who for years had worked for the KGB under the code name “MIKHAYLOV”, proved to be the winner. “Presumably,” Pacepa writes “the KGB/FSB considered him to be in a better position to carry out its tasks abroad, where he had directed his efforts during most of his professional life. In 1971, the KGB had sent him to Geneva (Switzerland) as a representative of the Russian Orthodox Church to the World Council of Churches (WCC), the largest international ecumenical organization after the Vatican, representing some 550 million Christians of various denominations throughout 120 countries. His task was to use his position in the WCC to spread the doctrine of Liberation Theology—a Marxist religious movement born in the KGB—throughout Latin America. In 1975, the KGB had infiltrated ‘MIKHAYLOV’ into the WCC’s central committee, and in 1989 the KGB had appointed him chairman of the Russian patriarchate’s foreign relations as well—positions he still held when he was ‘elected’ patriarch.”67 This perverse new religion would give rise to the racist and also Cuban-sponsored “Black Liberation Theology” of Obama’s Pastor Jeremiah Wright. Cuban-American historian Humberto Fontova explains this in his article “Vetting Obama's Pastor”: “‘I have been affiliated with the Cuba Council of Churches since the 1980s,’ boasted Rev. Jeremiah Wright in a sermon on July 16th 2006. ‘I have several close Cuban friends (italics added) who work with the Cuba Council of Churches and you have heard me preach about our affiliation and the Black Theology Project’s trips to Cuba. The Cuban Council of Churches has been a non-partisan global mission partner for decades. I have worked with them for two decades.’ ‘Non-partisan,’ Reverend Wright? Not according to Cuban intelligence defector Juan Vives, who from hands-on experience reports that the Cuba Council of Churches is in fact an arm of Cuba's ICAP (Instituto Cubano de Amistad con los Pueblos) itself an arm of Cuba's KGB-founded and mentored DGI (Directorio General de Inteligencia.) The ICAP's long-time chieftan was Rene Cruz Rodriguez, by the Reverend Jeremiah Wright's own admission perhaps one of his “friends." Rodriguez' meteoric rise through Cuba's Stalinist bureaucracy was facilitated by his diligence as an early executioner, often beating out Che Guevara and Raul Castro themselves in his zeal to shatter the firing-squad victim's skull with a coup d' grace from his .45. … On November 5, 1982 a Dade County, Florida, grand jury indicted Rene Rodriguez Cruz for smuggling drugs into the U.S. This murderer headed a Cuban agency that Jeremiah Wright ‘worked with for decades’ by his own admission, and whose staff he regards as ‘friends.’ These ‘friends,’ arranged the visit for the Rev. Jesse Jackson's and his 300 person entourage to Havana in 1984, which included Rev. Wright. ‘Viva Fidel!’ bellowed Reverend Jackson while concluding his speech at the University of Havana during that visit. ‘Viva Che Guevara! Long live our cry of Freedom!’.”68 Chris Coons, a Democrat Senator from Maryland who once described himself as a “Bearded Marxist”, proudly proclaimed on his campaign website that he worked with a South African Theological organization who’s main goal was to spread Black Liberation Theology.69 The “Rev.” Jesse Jackson himself became a de-facto tool of Soviet interests, as he was guided by Jack O’Dell into endorsing almost every pro-Soviet interest there was, including turning over the Panama Canal to the pro-Soviet dictator Omar Torrijos, endorsing the one-sided “Nuclear Freeze” movement, and championing the Pro-Soviet regimes and terrorist movements of Cuba, Nicaragua, Syria, Libya, the PLO and the South African Communist Party.70 The United States is today a different place than it was in the last century. Segregation and racial discrimination have been dealt mortal blows by patriotic Americans who risked their lives to see that the promise of the American revolution is fulfilled by all Americans who have pledged allegiance to the red, white and blue flag - and not just the red flag. The goal of inciting blacks to join forces with those determined to destroy the United States of America and its Free Market and Constitutional principals was to remain a central policy of the Soviet Union until its own collapse in 1991. The reward black Americans could have expected from the Kremlin if they had willingly and successfully helped to create a “Soviet America” or a “Soviet Negro Republic” could be seen in the fate of the man who started it all, Lovett Fort-Whiteman, who in 1939, having been accused of thought-crime of “Trotskyism” was sent to a Siberian Gulag where he “died of starvation, or malnutrition, a broken man, whose teeth had been knocked out.”71 A new stage in the Civil Rights movement is needed to bring about a renewed free-market revolution that will go a long way toward addressing the tragedy wrought upon the families, communities and financial wellbeing of black Americans by a Marxist-style welfare state instituted by the Left. It is freedom that leads to prosperity. Let Freedom Ring.