African American Communist Party pamphlets, 1928-1974 PDF
- 1928-1974 (inclusive)19281974
- 0.3 linear feet, (4 folders)
- Collection Number
- The CommunistParty 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 AfricanAmericanCommunistParty pamphlet collection contains 53 pamphlets created between 1928 and 1974 by the CommunistParty of the United States of America.
- University of Puget Sound, Archives & Special Collections
University of Puget Sound Archives & Special Collections
Collins Memorial Library
1500 N. Warner St.
- Access Restrictions
Collection is open for research.
Historical NoteReturn to Top
The CommunistParty 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 AfricanAmerican 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 AfricanAmerican 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 AfricanAmerican 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 AfricanAmerican owned farms. Other pamphlets highlight the work of abolitionists including Harriet Tubman, Thaddeus Stevens, and Frederick Douglass.
Of the over 50 CommunistPartypamphlets 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 AfricanAmericanCommunistParty pamphlet collection contains 53 pamphlets created between 1928 and 1974 by the CommunistParty 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
Administrative InformationReturn to Top
Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top
Names and SubjectsReturn to Top
- Subject Terms :
- African American communists
- Form or Genre Terms :