African-Americans Labeled Communists

Charles P. Howard Jr. (1921-1994), prominent attorney and former president of the National Bar Association, talks about black activists who were labeled communists in the 1940s.


Wallace… Never before had there been any black who was really of any significance in the Democratic Party, or Republic Party. Hoover even being… Hoover, coming from the Midwest, didn’t do very much about having a black to be the convention keynote speaker, like my father was in Philadelphia for Henry Wallace. So the fact that blacks were being encouraged now to vote and to participate in the federal government, by trying to elect someone who had promised them to do what they needed done for them—that is equality in this country, began to be the target of the conservatives and liberals of the two parties. And of most fights in this country, because if you can unite blacks who in those days it was about 20 million, 25 million, you may make a party or a group of people very influential in federal government. That’s what they were trying to do. So the press started labeling Paul Robeson as a communist simply because he went to see what their government was like. Not that he went over there to join the party or anything else, simply because he goes to the country to see what it was like—is one of the reasons why he was classified as a communist. My father, later on, went there also and he was really nailed as a communist, even though he’s never said he was. Refused to… he said if that is what you think then we haven’t made any progress in discrimination and segregation in America against black people.


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