African American Communist Party pamphlets, 1928-1974

Overview of the Collection

African American Communist Party pamphlets
1928-1974 (inclusive)
0.3 linear feet, (4 folders)
Collection Number
The Communist Party of the United States was founded in 1919 and it played an important role in defending the civil rights of African Americans during the height of its popularity in the 1930s and 40s. The African American Communist Party pamphlet collection contains 53 pamphlets created between 1928 and 1974 by the Communist Party of the United States of America.
University of Puget Sound, Archives & Special Collections

Collins Memorial Library
1500 N. Warner St.
Tacoma, WA
Telephone: 2538792669
Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research.


Historical NoteReturn to Top

The Communist Party of the United States (CPUSA) was founded in Chicago, Illinois, in 1919 and it played an important role in defending the civil rights of African Americans during the height of its popularity in the 1930s and 40s. During the early years of the CPUSA, the African American population remained largely concentrated in the South, but by the 1940s millions of African Americans had migrated north where they faced continued discrimination as they competed against working class whites for jobs and housing.

The CPUSA began a focused effort to recruit African Americans in the 1920s, sending organizers to the Deep South and concentrating on very specific issues such as handling utility shutoffs, forcing white social workers to provide food to African Americans in need, and fighting labor related discrimination. They mobilized students, farmers, and industrial workers to overturn segregation laws, build support for anti-lynching legislation, and ensure equal voting rights for minorities. In the North, they campaigned against the eviction of African American tenants, for equality in the work force, and against police brutality. The CPUSA viewed the liberation of African Americans as a vital component of the American class struggle. Several thousand African Americans joined the CPUSA in hopes that the organization would help them to achieve specific civil rights including educational and labor related goals.

The CPUSA was a prolific publisher of reports, transcripts of speeches, essays, convention materials, and most notably, pamphlets. Pamphlets were inexpensive to print and produce, easy to hand out, and an affordable way to spread ideas to audiences both large and small. This collection of pamphlets dating from 1928 through 1974 contains notable examples of the type of information being disseminated by the CPUSA. Several prominent African Americans, including Pettis Perry, Henry Winston, and Benjamin Davis, wrote pamphlets included in this collection. Perry, author of 4 pamphlets in the collection, rose through the ranks of the CPUSA leadership to become secretary of the CPUSA's Negro Work Commission. He led an effort to root out racism within the party, resulting in hundreds of Communists being expelled. Winston, author of 2 pamphlets in the collection, was a community organizer, civil rights leader, and member of the CPUSA who devoted his life to advocating for the working class. Davis, author of 8 pamphlets in the collection, was a lawyer, journalist, orator, and organizer, well known for his involvement in several high profile legal cases, including those of Angelo Herndon and the Scottsboro Boys. Herndon, also an author of one pamphlet in this collection, was an African American labor organizer who was arrested and convicted for insurrection in 1932.

There are several pamphlets of topical interest as well. The pamphlet titled "The Negroes in a Soviet America," by James Ford and James Allen, written in 1935, is typical of pamphlets produced during the period in which the CPUSA was heavily recruiting African Americans. The authors denounced capitalism and promoted communism as a path to a brighter future for African Americans. The pamphlet laid out a history of the mistreatment of African Americans, citing the Scottsboro Boys case in Alabama and the disappearance of African American owned farms. Other pamphlets highlight the work of abolitionists including Harriet Tubman, Thaddeus Stevens, and Frederick Douglass.

Of the over 50 Communist Party pamphlets in the collection, only one was written by Russians and published by the state-owned news agency in Moscow. Titled "Fire Bell in the Night," it was written by three Russians hours after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968 and completed on the day of his funeral. This pamphlet also includes commentary on the Watts Riots, the march from Selma to Montgomery, the 1963 church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama, and a calendar detailing victims of racism.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The African American Communist Party pamphlet collection contains 53 pamphlets created between 1928 and 1974 by the Communist Party of the United States of America (CPUSA). The collection is organized chronologically by date and is contained within 4 folders in a box shared with other collections. The pamphlets in this collection cover topics including racism, the civil rights movement, discrimination in the work force, education, communism, slavery and the abolitionist movement, lynching, and prominent legal cases involving African Americans.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Preferred Citation

[Name of document, date.] African American Communist Party pamphlets, Mss.057. University of Puget Sound Archives & Special Collections. Tacoma, Washington.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Location of Collection

Housed in shared box.

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
1 1 American Negro Problems, by John Pepper 1928
1 1 Lynching, by H. Haywood and M. Howard 1932
1 1 The Negroes in a Soviet America, by James Ford and James Allen 1935
1 1 The Road to Liberation for the Negro People, by A.W. Berry, Williana Burrough and others 1937
1 1 "You Cannot Kill the Working Class," by Angelo Herndon 1937
1 1 Negro Liberation, by James Allen 1938
1 1 The Negro People and the New World Situation, by James Ford 1941
1 1 Thaddeus Stevens, by Elizabeth Lawson
2 copies in collection.
1 1 Harriet Tubman: Negro Soldier and Abolitionist, by Earl Conrad 1942
1 1 Frederick Douglass: Abolitionist, Liberator, Statesman, by Steve Kingston 1943
1 1 The Negro People and the Communist Party, by Ben Davis, Jr. 1943
1 2 Wendell Phillips, by James Green 1943
1 2 Communists in the Struggle for Negro Rights, by James Ford, Benjamin Davis, William Patterson, and Earl Browder 1945
1 2 One Tenth of a Nation, by Harold Taylor 1946
1 2 Lynching and Frame-Up in Tennessee, by Robert Minor 1946
1 2 The Path of Negro Liberation, by Benjamin Davis 1947
1 2 Why I am a Communist, by Benjamin Davis 1947
1 2 The Negro in Sports, by Nat Low 1947
1 2 The Ingrams Shall Not Die, by Harry Raymond
2 copies in collection.
1 2 The Ingrams, by Harry Raymond and Mason Roberson 1948
1 2 Freedom is Everybody's Job: The Crime of the Government Against the Negro People, by George Crockett, Jr. 1949
1 2 The Negro in Hollywood Films, by V.J. Jerome 1950
1 2 The Jerry Newson Story, by Buddy Green and Steve Murdock 1950
1 2 Forge Negro-Labor Unity for Peace and Jobs, by Paul Robeson 1950
1 2 My Name is Wesley Robert Wells, by Wesley Wells 1951
1 3 The Negro People in the Struggle for Peace and Freedom, by Benjamin Davis 1951
1 3 America's Racist Laws: Weapon of National Oppression, by Herbert Aptheker 1951
1 3 Paul Robeson Speaks to Youth, by Paul Robeson 1951
1 3 Lift Every Voice for Paul Robeson, by Lloyd Brown 1951
1 3 What it Means to be a Communist, by Henry Winston 1951
1 3 This, too, is Lynch Law, by Pettis Perry 1951
1 3 Behind the Florida Bombings, by Joseph North 1952
1 3 White Chauvinism and the Struggle for Peace, by Pettis Perry 1952
1 3 Stand Up for Freedom: the Negro People vs. the Smith Act, by Lloyd Brown 1952
1 3 The Story of a Working Class Leader, by Pettis Perry 1952
1 3 The Truth Goes Marching On, (author unknown) 1952
1 3 The Party of Negro and White, by Pettis Perry 1953
1 3 The Jewish People and the Fight for Negro Rights, by Sanford Goldner 1953
1 3 The People Versus Segregated Schools, by Doxey Wilkerson 1955
1 3 Behind the Lynching of Emmett Louis Till, by Louis Burnham 1955
1 3 Negro History: Its Lessons for Our Time, by Herbert Aptheker 1956
1 3 The Negro People on the March, by Benjamin Davis 1956
1 3 John Brown: American Martyr, by Herbert Aptheker 1960
1 4 Upsurge in the South: The Negro People Fight for Freedom, by Benjamin Davis 1960
1 4 Racist Poison in School Books, by L.R. Beveridge, Jr. 1961
1 4 Turning Point in Freedom Road: The Fight to End Jim Crow Now, by Claude Lightfoot 1962
1 4 Must Negro-Americans Wait Another Hundred Years for Freedom? Against Tokenism and Gradualism, by Benjamin Davis 1963
1 4 Negro Freedom Is in the Interest of Every American, by Gus Hall 1964
1 4 The Fire this Time: W.E.B. DuBois Club of Los Angeles, by Ron Ridenour, Anne Leslie, and Victor Oliver 1965
1 4 The Meaning of Black Power, by James Jackson 1966
1 4 Fire Bell in the Night, by G. Gerasimov, G. Kuznetsov, and V. Morev 1968
1 4 The Meaning of San Rafael, by Henry Winston 1971
1 4 The Black Liberation Struggle, The Black Workers Congress, and Proletarian Revolution, (author unknown) 1974

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • African American communists

Form or Genre Terms

  • Pamphlets