1960s >> 1965 >> no-736-december-1965

For the record

The record of the twists and turns of the so-called communist parties throughout the world are well-known to those who bother to study working-class political history. In view of the prominence currently given to the colour problem both here and in America it will be useful to recall one incident in the history of the American party. It is taken from a review in the Weekly People (September 13th, 1958) of New York of The American Communist Party: A Critical History (1919-1957) by Irving Howe and Lewis Coser.


In the 1930’s the American party went all out to get Negro support using as a bait the fantastic demand for “self-determination in the Black Belt”


  “World War II changed also this. In September of 1941, Benjamin Davis, soon to become a prominent Negro Communist, wrote that The CP is disturbed by the increasing struggle of Negroes for jobs in defence plants.’ (Authors’ italics). The CP dissolved its Southern branches (those that did not exist solely on paper) during the war in order to mollify the Southern wing of the Democratic Party by showing its zeal to help prosecute the war with no ‘dissension’ in the South.
“Another bit of CP history from the mass of material presented by Coser and Howe deserves to be included here. The authors describe it as ‘one of those peculiarly symptomatic incidents that reveal more than any number of party documents.’ In 1945, four Negro WAC’s at Fort Devens discovered a group of wounded Negro soldiers who had been left unattended. When they complained to the camp authorities, the Army’s answer was a court-martial!
“The protests from all sides were so vigorous that the Army reversed its decision. This reversal, which brought some satisfaction to those with normal feelings of good will and a sense of fair play, brought only pain to Ben Davis. In the Daily Worker of April 8th, 1945, the official organ of the CP., he reprimanded the WAC’s for disturbing the Communist hoped-for serenity of the domestic scene.
“The US general staff has on many occasions . . . proved that they deserve their full confidence of the Negro people . . . We cannot temporarily stop the war until all questions of discrimination are ironed out.’”