― 1 ―
I am not now nor have I ever been a member of the Communist Party, "concealed" or otherwise. Moreover, I have never been a supporter of that party, its candidates or officers. I have never in public or private,
― 2 ―in oral or written statement, endorsed the Communist Party, espoused its cause or supported its ends. Its tactics and its revolutionary philosophy and objectives are, and always have been, repugnant to me.
The charge against me to the effect that "information has been received that you have been and may still be a `concealed' member of the Communist Party" is outrageous. I do not know what may be intended or implied by the use of the word "concealed", and therefore cannot know what may be the true meaning and motivation of this general charge against me. I would be justified in the suspicion, however, that the source of the so-called "information" knows my record well enough to realize that a simple charge of Communist Party membership or Communist activity on my part would be utterly ridiculous. To offset my clear record, therefore, the sinister device of "concealed" Communist is applied in order that it may be contended that my clear record of words and deeds to the contrary would still not suffice to disprove the charge.
Before presenting detailed answers to the specific allegations, I must express my indignation and protest that responsible and presumably informed public officers charged with responsibility for the investigation of such matters, have not themselves found the open record of my conduct over the years so complete a refutation of any possibility of Communist Party membership or Pro-Communist attitudes as to make quite unnecessary any denial by me of such association. Surely, the investigation is not concerned exclusively with seeking "derogatory" information.
Thus, when I read the vicious, unexplained and undocumented allegation -14 to the effect that "the Communists are in a position to control you", I ask myself why have the public authorities themselves not discredited and disregarded this obvious lie on the basis of my well known record of public service, what I have publicly said and done over the years in vigorous and outspoken attacks upon the Communists and the followers of the "Communist line", not to mention the Communists' attacks upon me.
By way of illustration, I point to just a part of my anti-Communist record which gives the lie to the charge and which could be easily found by any competent investigator who would be concerned with obtaining any and all significant information about the attitudes and conduct of Ralph Bunche and not solely with assembling "derogatory" information of whatever kind and degree of irresponsibility, which is then arranged, organized and phrased in such manner as to suggest that some real question of loyalty exists.
Here are some simple facts about my activities over many years which certainly could have been obtained as readily as the "derogatory" information in the specific allegations, if not more so:
1. In 1940, I formally resigned from the International Committee on African Affairs, because I disagreed with the pro-Communist ideology which its Director, Max Yergan, had begun to express (See detailed Reply to Allegation 3).
2. In a research memorandum prepared for the Carnegie-Myrdal Survey of the Negro in America in 1940-41, I vigorously denounced the National Negro Congress as an organization which the Communists had "captured", and which, therefore, would quickly die, as it did. My extensive and critical analysis of the Negro Congress, though never published, was widely distributed and known. A copy was loaned to the Department of Justice, and in bound type-written copies or microfilm was and still is available in many libraries, including the New York Public Library. It was, I believe, the first extensive account of how Communists and pro-Communists won control over a Negro organization. My denunciation of the Negro Congress has been extensively quoted in books, including Wilson Record's "The Negro and the Communist Party" published in 1951. (See my detailed Reply to Allegation 2).
3. In 1940, when the Communists, because of the Hitler-Stalin Pact, were denouncing the war as an "imperialist war" and had as their national rallying cry "The Yanks Are Not Coming", I promptly responded to an open advertisement of the Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies (The William Allen White Committee), volunteered my services, urged them to enroll Negroes in the work of the Committee in order that the American Negro would understand that this war for freedom and democracy was his war too, became an active member of the Committee, and was requested by the Committee to prepare a special appeal to Negroes, which I did. It is to be noted, also, that the advertisement of the Committee to which I responded carried a stern warning against "Communists and their fellow travelers" as well as against Nazis. (See my detailed reply to Allegation 14).
4. As a result of my opposition to the left-wing faction, led my Alpheus Hunton and Doxey Wilkerson, in the Howard University [local of] the American Federation of Teachers (A.F. of T.), I was chosen as the candidate for a National Vice-Presidency of the Federation against Doxey Wilkerson, the incumbent. I was the choice of those in the Federation who were determined to purge the union of Communist and pro-Communist elements. Hunton and Wilkerson, assisted by some others, fought vigorously against my candidacy at the National Convention in Buffalo, N.Y. in 1940, and through unfair tactics, involving a technicality, succeeded in keeping my name off the ballot. This is all fully recorded in the minutes of the National Convention. (See my detailed Reply to Allegation 9).
5. In written and spoken word I have often denounced communism and totalitarianism. I have warned against the "sophistry of communism" (Washington D.C., Evening Star of July 17, 1940 Exhibit 32). I have called communism a "subtle trap" for the Negro; described Stalin as a "purge-drunk dictator"; and called "Russian Totalitarianism the other side of the fascist coin" (Journal of Negro Education, October 1940, Vol. IX, no. 4, pp. 571ff; See Exhibit 33). I have many times warned against the threat to the American way of life by aggressive communism (Maryknoll, November, 1953, p. 23; Address to State Bar Association of Connecticut, Hartford, 21 October 1952; See Exhibit 37). I have frequently denounced the Soviet Union's abuse of the veto in the U.N. Similarly, I have attacked the frequent Soviet "walkouts" in the U.N.
6. In speeches and articles in the United States and in many other parts of the world I have consistently endorsed and praised democracy and the American way of life (Exhibit 37.) As State Department files on overseas cables and reports will no doubt attest, I have been actively "selling" American democracy from public platforms in India, Pakistan, all of the Scandinavian countries, Switzerland, West Germany, England and France. Moreover, the people who have read and heard me have understood and appreciated my messages of faith in democracy as against communism or any other form of totalitarianism, as newspaper reports and letters in great volume amply attest. (See Exhibit 38). Indeed, the President himself has felt so, as indicated by his conferring an honorary degree upon me while he was President of Columbia University, his high compliments to me in some of his campaign speeches last year, and his quite recent invitation to me to serve on the Board of the Eisenhower Exchange Fellowships, which I gladly also accepted. The Republican Program Committee also felt so when, in 1939, they invited me to prepare a non-political report for the Republican Party on the needs of the Negro.
7. The efforts I made, through mediation on behalf of the United Nations, to end the war between Arabs and Jews in Palestine certainly served the interest of my own country and the free world in general and not communism, since the communists could only benefit from continued fighting in the Near East. It was well known that Communist agents were busily at work trying to sow discord in the Arab States, in Israel and among the Arab refugees throughout our effort to achieve peace. At no time did Communists or any Soviet bloc government give Count Bernadotte or me any keep or encouragement in the effort to bring peace to Palestine. To the contrary, we were often denounced by them as "American Agents". My right hand man throughout the Palestine operation was Gen. William E. Riley of the U.S. Marines, who is now on Mr. Stassen's staff and who knows the depth of my loyalty. I may be pardoned for asking what manner of Communist it could be who would act as I did in Palestine?
8. I daresay that few have spoken more vigorously or more often against the Communist aggression in North Korea and in support of U.N. military intervention to repel that aggression. (See examples of such utterances in Exhibit 36).
9. I have been attacked in Communist publications, how often I do not know, for I do not read them and have made no search through them. The first that came to my notice was as early in my career as 1935, when in an article in the New Masses I was assailed as one of those subject to control by philanthropic agencies and as one "who knew how to act in the presence of wealth and authority" (New Masses, 16 April 1935, "Mail Order Dictatorship—The Rosenwalds and 12,000,000 Negroes", pp. 10-12). Dr. W.E.B. DuBois, in a mass meeting in Madison Square Garden in 1948, made a biting attack upon me (Exhibit 34), as did the Daily Worker on October 27, 1948 (Exhibit 35). I have heard of other attacks but have not bothered to run them down.
10. I have been regarded and portrayed, here and abroad, as a symbol of American democracy at its best and a walking testimonial to the progress made in race relations in this country. I have been many times invited and urged by private groups and by the State Department, the last such invitation from State having been extended only last fall, to go on "good-will" tours to such places as India, Japan, South America, and Western Europe, in the interest of improving understanding of America among the peoples of those places.
11. Prominent members of the present administration, including Mr. Dulles and Mr. Stassen, have had ample opportunity to test and appraise my loyalty and my attitudes in the course of close working association. For example, I served Gov. Stassen throughout the San Francisco U.N. Conference in 1945 and was highly praised by him. Similarly, I was assigned to Mr. Dulles as adviser during the First Session of the United Nations General Assembly in London in 1946 and was commended by him. I have maintained friendly relations with both ever since and have been entertained in their homes. More recently, members of U.S. Delegations to United Nations organs such as Mr. John Baker (President of Ohio University), Mrs. Mildred Heffelfinger (Minneapolis) and Col. Irving Saloman (California), members of the U.S. Delegation to the Economic and Social Council in Geneva last summer; Mrs. Frances Bolton and Alderman Archibald Carey, of the U.S. Delegation to the Eighth Session of the U.N. General Assembly, could and I am sure would willingly testify how often and readily I have gone out of my way, if not beyond the line of propriety as a Secretariat member, to be of friendly assistance to my country. As all members of the U.S. Delegation in the Fourth Committee well know, in each session for some years now, I have taken personal initiative and risk in protecting the U.S. against abuse on the matter of delays in granting visas to oral petitioners appearing before the Committee.
On the Board of the Fund for the Advancement of Education of the Ford Foundation, and in other activities, I have been closely associated with and am well-known to Mr. Owen J. Roberts and Mr. Paul Hoffman, who have had good opportunity to appraise the quality of my Americanism.
I now turn to the fourteen specific allegations purporting to be in support of the above utterly false charge. I propose to answer these allegations, some of which relate to asserted activities and associations dating as far back as nineteen years ago, as fully as memory and personal files, now inevitably disordered and incomplete, will permit. I propose also to document my replies and explanations, to the extent possible, with relevant materials which have been located only after most diligent and laborious search through folios long packed away, in the form of letters, memoranda and other papers.
I must repeat, however, that since my life has been very open; since over the past score of years I have written considerably for publication and have done far more of public speaking; since my activities and views, especially in the last decade, have been public knowledge, not only in my
― 3 ―own society but internationally; since I have often been cited as an example and symbol of American democracy at its best and have consistently expounded the virtues of the American way of life both at home and abroad, and have been widely quoted to that effect; it comes as a shock to me that I must now prove my loyalty to the country which has given me so much and whose interests I have served throughout my career with devotion and whatever ability has been at my command. But since I am called upon the answer charges, however tenuous and distorted, I will do so and, I trust, in such way as to dispel all doubt in the mind of any reasonable man. For I am proud of my reputation as a good and loyal citizen of my country and I am determined to keep that reputation unsullied. For these reasons, my replies will be fuller than they might otherwise need to be, and longer certainly, than the allegations themselves warrant.
I must point out also that with regard to certain of the specific allegations, words and phrases are employed in such way as to seem to pre-judge the issue.
For example, in allegation 2, reference is made to my activity in the National Negro Congress in 1935 and to the fact that this organization has been cited as Communist by the Attorney General. But when was it cited? The National Negro Congress, I am sure, had not been "cited" in 1935, since it was non-existent then, and when finally cited, so far as I know, was not cited "as of 1935." The same objection applies to allegation 3. In allegation 6, 7 and 9, the words "associate" and "mentor" used in the context in which they appear, make clear and precise answers very difficult since the exact intent of these words is not indicated. Hence, I must ask myself, is one an "associate" of his colleagues on a Faculty, and if so, what additional connotation does the word have in the context of the allegations? And with reference to allegation 7, is one an "associate and mentor" of someone who for a few months was a junior employee, if no other relationship exists? Again, since allegation 12 purports to be specific, it should at least provide some clue as to the nature of the "subversive literature" alleged to have been distributed, or be omitted from the list of allegations.
The point is, of course, that since these specific names appear in the allegations, it must be assumed that their source was aware of the true relationships which existed and that, therefore, the words "associate" and "mentor" may have been deliberately employed to convey suspicion where no basis for suspicion exists.
Since the allegations numbered 1, 2 and 6, and my replies to them, are closely inter-related, I will deal with these three together in order to avoid repetition.
― 4 ―
Allegations 1, 2, 6:
Summary of Replies
1. I have never attended any meeting known to me to be a "secret" meeting of the Communist Party or a "fraction" thereof; have never knowingly been in any Communist Party meeting, "secret" or not, as a "participating member" or otherwise; and have never discussed with anyone how to further any interest of the Communist Party, with regard to the control of the National Negro Congress or any other matter.
2. I helped to organise the National Negro Congress in 1936, was active in its early stages when it was not under Communist control, and promptly denounced it in 1940 when its conduct seemed to me to indicate that the Communist influence was becoming predominant, and before it had been cited by the Attorney General.
6. I had a speaking acquaintance with James W. Ford, and nothing more, and was never his "associate" in any way, other than to have been at two or three public conferences and meetings at which he also happened to be present. I am certain that I did not attend any "secret meeting of a fraction of the Communist Party as a participating member on or about May 17, 1935, in the office of John P. Davis on Florida Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C., to discuss procedures and policies of the Communist Party to be employed to insure
― 4A ―control by that Party of the National Negro Congress". I have never attended any meeting known to me to be a meeting of the Communist or a "fraction" of that party, whether "secret" or not, and neither as a "participating member" nor otherwise. I am also certain that I have not engaged in a discussion with anyone, at any time, on the procedures and policies which the Communist Party might employ to gain control of the National Negro Congress or anything else.
That I had been in the office of John P. Davis above referred to, during the spring of 1935, on more that one occasion, I readily admit, for reasons and circumstances which I shall make clear below. That during the same period I had also been present at a meeting or meetings which James Ford and possibly other Communists attended is also true, but not under the circumstances or for the purposes alleged, as I shall explain below.
― 5 ―
May 17, 1935 there was in existence no "National Negro Congress", and I knew nothing about any such idea.
I can best deal with these three allegations by sketching the history of the formation of the National Negro Congress, which I am well qualified to do, since I was active in bringing it about.
In this regard, allegation number 2, to the effect that I was "active in 1935 in the organisation of the National Negro Congress" is, therefore, true. But the Congress had not been cited as Communist by the Attorney General of the United States in 1935, and could not have been, since it did not come into being until February, 1936. Indeed, it was not so cited until some years later, just when I do not know, but certainly not until after it had been captured by the Communists and was already bankrupt and on its last legs for that very reason. It was not a Communist organisation or controlled by Communists in its formative period, which was the period of my active association with it.
Now, as to the history of the formation of the Congress and my role in it.
― 6 ―
John P. Davis, in whose office the May 17, 1935, meeting is alleged to have taken place, was at that time Executive Secretary of the Joint Committee on National Recovery. The Headquarters of the Joint Committee and the office of Mr. Davis were at 717 Florida Avenue, N.W., in Washington, D.C. The Joint Committee was an entirely respectable organisation designed to assist the American Negro citizen, who, because of his minority status and marginal economic position in the society, was suffering even more harshly from the effects of the depression than non-Negro citizens. It had the backing of most of the important Negro organisations, including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, leading Negro religious organisations, the National Negro Bar Association and the National Negro Business League, as well as some prominent inter-racial organisations. Its Chairman was George E. Haynes, a highly respected Negro religious leader. I append, marked "exhibits 1, 2 and 3", three letters addressed to me by John P. Davis on November 1, 1933, March 14, 1934 and May 18, 1934, the latter two on the letterhead of the Joint Committee on National Recovery, which reveals the officers and member
― 7 ―organisations of the Joint Committee and also its general aims.
During the academic year 1934-35, I had been named by my colleagues as Secretary of the Social Science Division of Howard University in Washington, and Chairman of the Division's Programme Committee. It was the policy of the Division to hold annual public conferences on matters particularly relating to the interests and well-being of Negroes. We in the Division had begun to lay plans for a spring conference on the economic problems of the Negro. We learned that the Join Committee, under John P. Davis, was making somewhat similar plans and was approaching some of the prospective speakers in government offices whom we hoped to have. I was authorised to confer with Davis on the matter and he proposed that a single conference be held under joint auspices (Exhibit 4). This was considered by the Social Science Division at a meeting on 13 February, 1935, (Exhibit 5) and tentatively approved together with a tentative programme submitted by Davis (Exhibit 6).
The conference, jointly sponsored and with a revised programme, was
― 8 ―finally held on May 18, 19 and 20, at Howard University. An announcement of the conference, sent out by Davis on 15 April, 1935, is submitted as Exhibit 7, and the final, printed programme as Exhibit 8.
From the standpoint of public interest and vigorous discussion of the Negro's plight under the New Deal, the conference was a success.
With regard to the allegation concerning the meeting with John P. Davis "on or about May 17, 1935", I may point out that this way the day before the opening of the conference, and although I have no recollection of it, it is quite possible and even likely that I conferred with Davis as joint sponsor on that day, as I had on many occasions after the decision on joint sponsorship was taken.
In the period before the conference, I frequently consulted with Davis, in his office, in my office at the University, and by telephone. I may have
― 9 ―visited his office on May 17, 1935, though I have no recollection of it, and I deny categorically that anything of the nature alleged took place. Any conversations or meetings with John Davis at that period related solely to the conference which was about to convene.
This was the first experience I had had in helping to manage a conference and I found it a very taxing chore, requiring constant consultations with everyone connected with the project.
Because of the criticism of the University resulting from the Conference, the Social Science Division was gravely concerned, and on 28 May, 1935, held a meeting about it (Exhibit 9), at which it approved the letter and memorandum to the president of the University, fully explaining the Conference, appended as Exhibit 10.
The proceedings of the Conference were subsequently published in the quarterly Journal of Negro Education of Howard University, in Vol.V, No.1 in the January, 1936, issue. In its editorial comment on the conference, the Journal, after noting that points of view from far right to far left had been expounded, states (p.2):
― 9A ―
"Thus, the conference ended, with several possible solutions of the Negro's problem being offered but none of them seemingly acceptable to a majority of the delegates. Hence, some members felt the need for a next step. Therefore, a national Negro congress, with A. Philip Randolph as president and John P. Davis as secretary, is being called to meet in Chicago on February 14, 1936, to arrive at a minimum program, upon which all elements of the Negro group can agree and act."
― 10 ―
The confusion in thinking and the lack of any concensus among the Negroes at the Conference as to ways and means of attacking the Negro problem, or as to the objectives sought, referred to in the Journal cited above, became increasingly apparent as the Howard University Conference progressed. As a result, a number of participants, including myself, began to think and talk about the possibility of a further step which might achieve agreement among Negro leaders on a minimum programme of action.
In consequence, it was decided to discuss a possible next step immediately after the close of the Conference on the night of May 19, 1935. It happened that at this time I was renting from the University a large house located on the Howard campus only two or three hundred feet from the Douglas Hall auditorium in which the Conference was held. Throughout the Conference, my home had been open to the participants, and quite naturally, I invited all of those who were interested in discussing a next step, as a follow-up to the Conference, to come to my home for that purpose. Mr. Davis, advised of this, distributed an informal notice to
― 10 ―this effect to which he attached a summary of his thinking on the matter, which indicated that he had already done some advance thinking about a "Congress" (Exhibit 11).
A number of the Conference participants came to my home after the meeting in response to the invitation. The exact number I do not recall, nor do I recall many of those who were present. But my living room was crowded and the discussion was vigorous. John P. Davis was certainly there and I am reasonably sure that James Ford, who, as the programme indicates, had been one of the speakers at the Conference, was on hand. I do not recall whether James S. Allen, like Ford, an acknowledged Communist Party member, who was also at the conference, attended the meeting at my residence.
This meeting on May 19 may have been the meeting to which allegation number 1 really refers. Other than the Conference sessions, it is the only meeting at which I can recall being present along with John Davis and James Ford. This was certainly not a "secret" meeting, nor a meeting "of a fraction of the Communist Party." As the notice by Davis indicates, it was open to all Conference participants and they were urged to come. One (James W. Ford) and possibly other Communists were present, but at most they could only have been an insignificant fraction of a large group.
― 11 ―
It was at this meeting at my home on May 19, 1935, that the idea of a National Negro Congress emerged and began to take shape. In the course of this meeting, Mr. Davis and I found ourselves in strong disagreement over the question of the basis for a National Negro Congress. I argued that initially, at least, the Congress would be more fruitful if it were selective, i.e., if it were confined to a homogeneous group of Negro leaders who could more readily agree on a common programme. Then this programme could gradually be "sold" to leaders in other walks of life. Davis, however, wished to proceed on the broadest possible front, by calling together leaders of all kinds. The Davis view prevailed, and I predicted that this would merely re-produce the confusion pathetically apparent at the Howard Conference. It was not very long before my prediction was confirmed.
I have presented the foregoing narrative in some detail to establish:
― 12 ―
With specific reference to allegation 6 to the effect that I was "an associate of Jame [sic] W. Ford and spoke at meetings with him and John P. Davis, both of whom are alleged to have been Communist Party functionaries", I reply as follows:
(1) I have never been an "associate" of James W. Ford, in any sense, other than having a speaking acquaintance and being at two or three public meetings at which he also happened to be present.
(2) The full extent of my relations with James W. Ford was as follows:
― 12A ―
― 12 ―
― 12 ―
― 12D ―
Soon after the Conference at Howard and the meeting at my home on May 19, 1953, John Davis issued two bulletins about the proposed Congress (Exhibit 12). There was nothing in these bulletins to suggest any communist control or influence. Despite my disagreement with Davis over tactics, I continued to support the idea of a Congress, for the need was so great, but I increasingly doubted that his approach would prove successful. Because of this difference in viewpoint, I was not given a prominent role in the planning for the first Congress or in the Congress itself. I was offered no office in the Congress and was not
― 13 ―invited to speak. I was, however, with my consent, listed as an endorser and sponsor. The list of endorsers included very many of the country's leading Negroes from all walks of life, as may be noted in the official "Call" for the first Congress to be held in Chicago on February 14, 1936 (Exhibit 13). Here again, it may be pointed out that this "call" did not reflect Communist Party domination, for it praised the efforts of the N.A.A.C.P. and the National Urban League, which in Communist Party organs were always derided and denounced for their "softness" and "middle-class" approach.
I had little to do with the actual planning of the first Congress. John Davis, as Temporary Chairman, took full charge. I was, however, invited to a meeting of the National Sponsoring Committee of the Congress, held in Washington on November 16, 1935. At this meeting there was a selection of the officers of the National Sponsoring Committee of the Congress, who, quite likely, would become the first officers of the Congress. A. Philip Randolph was the unanimous choice for President (Exhibit 14) and any one who knew this strong and courageous leader of the A F of L's Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters would know that the Communists could not
― 14 ―dominate any organisation which he continued to head. He was and still is, a militant Negro leader, but has long been vigorously anti-Communist.
On January 29, 1936, Mr. Davis wrote to me quite formally inviting me to be a "Discussion Leader" at one of the afternoon topical sessions (Exhibit 15). This was no important role and except for a later designation by the Congress to the Resolutions Committee, it constituted my sole activity at and with the First National Negro Congress. The Official Proceedings of the First Congress list me as a member of the "Presiding Committee", of which Adam Clayton Powell, now Congressman Powell of New York, was Chairman, but I do not believe I was ever at a meeting of that Committee, if, indeed, it ever met.
Following this First Congress, I published an appraisal of it in a popular article titled "Triumph or Fiasco?" in Race, Summer, 1936, Vol. 1, No. 2. (Exhibit 16). It will be noticed that immediately below my article, the editor of Race, Mr. Streator, published a statement titled "A Criticism", which denounced the Congress (and my appraisal of it) for its lack of
― 15 ―class-consciousness.
I also submitted a report on the Chicago Congress to the Dean of my College at Howard University (Exhibit 17).
I had no further active role in the National Negro Congress, although I continued to hope that it might prove able to serve the urgent need which gave rise to the idea.
I was invited, indirectly, to attend the first meeting of the National Executive Council of the Congress, which was held in Cleveland On [sic] June 19, 20 and 21, 1936 (Exhibit 18). I did not attend this meeting, however, as its Minutes (page 1) will show (Exhibit 19).
I continued to receive the literature of the Congress and did not formally break with it in 1936, but I was no longer an active supporter. Indeed, from September 1936, until July 1938, my time was fully devoted to study and research through a generous two year post-doctoral fellowship awarded me by the Social Science Research Council (Rockefeller). During the first semester of the academic year 1936-37, I studied anthropology at Northwestern University and the University of Chicago. In February 1937, I took my family abroad and I did not return until July 1938. I was
― 16 ―enrolled for short terms at the London School of Economics and the University of Capetown, South Africa, and then embarked on field research in colonial policy in East Africa and South East Asia.
I was completely out of touch with the Negro Congress during this extended period, and, of course, could not attend the Second Congress held in Philadelphia in October, 1937.
In 1939 and 1940 I was employed by the Carnegie Corporation of New York as one of the chief assistants to Dr. Gunnar Myrdal in the preparation of the comprehensive survey of the Negro in America, which was ultimately published under the title of "An American Dilemma". I was responsible for the preparation, for Dr. Myrdal's use, of the basic memoranda covering Negro political status, Negro and inter-racial organisations, Negro leadership, and conceptions and ideologies of the Negro problem. In the course of my work on this study, I was rebuffed by John P. Davis in my efforts to get information from him about himself and the Negro Congress, as his letter to me of November 8, 1939, reveals (Exhibit 20). Because of our differences over the course the Congress was taking, our
― 17 ―relations had become anything but cordial.
The Third (and last) National Negro Congress was held in Washington on April 26, 27 and 28, 1940, in the auditorium of the United States Department of Labor. In my research for the Carnegie Corporation - Myrdal Survey of the Negro, I tried to cover every meeting having to do with the Negro and civil rights that I could possibly reach. It was in this capacity that I attended the Third National Negro Congress, and, after its conclusion, I promptly submitted an analytical research memorandum on it. I was not on the program, and was not an active participant in this Third Congress. Nevertheless, I still retained some hope for it and was still in sympathy with its original aims. However, when I put in my appearance on the first day of the Congress, John Davis tried to keep me out on the grounds that I had no credentials. But I finally gained admission as the representative of the Carnegie Corporation of New York.
My research memorandum, in June 1940, was the first comprehensive analysis of the Negro Congress, and even today, I believe, is more complete than any since undertaken. It sets forth in detail the birth and growth of the Congress and relates its capture by the Communists at the Washington
― 18 ―meeting in April, 1940. This report, along with the other memoranda prepared by me for the Carnegie Corporation's Survey, has been widely circulated and is well-known. These memoranda are available in the Schomburg Collection of the New York Public Library, and in copies or in microfilm, are available at many other libraries throughout the country. I recall, also, that a Mr. Rotnem of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, having heard of my report on the Negro Congress, asked for and was loaned a copy. A copy, on request, was also loaned to the Bureau of Intelligence of O.W.I.
My analysis of the Negro Congress and other Negro organisations has been cited and quoted from in many books about the Negro and Communism, and has been used by many scholars. In a recent book, for example, "The Negro and the Communist Party", by Wilson Record (Chapel Hill, The University of North Carolina Press, 1951), the author states (p.156):
"The Sponsoring Committee obtained the enthusiastic backing of A. Philip Randolph, President of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, and later was indorsed by such prominent Negroes as Lester Granger and Elmer Carter, of the NUL; Ralph Bunche and Alain Locke,
― 19 ―"of Howard University; M.O. Bousfield, of the Julius Rosenwald Fund; and James A. Bray, R.A. Carter, and W.J. Walls, Negro Churchmen. In addition, many Negro teachers, social workers, and lawyers, "gave their initial blessing". That the Communist Party approved the move was indicated in Ford's becoming a member of the Sponsoring Committee."
On page 196 of his book, Mr. Record writes as follows:
"In spite of Randolph's withdrawal, the alienation of the moderate delegates, and the immediate reduction in the NNC's influence, the Party hailed the third meeting of the organisation as a great success declaring:
The Convention marked an enormous step forward in the centuries old struggle of the Negro people. It was not yet, in the full sense of the word, a people's congress. It represented, in fact, the advanced detachment of the Negro movement. A firmer basis has, however, been established for the unity of the Negro masses. A new note, of far reaching significance, was struck in the relationship of the Negro people to labor. The foundation for the historic alliance between the Negro people and the working class has been immensely strengthened.
― 20 ―
"A different estimate,
*. Italics mine
In my estimation the Negro Congress dug its own grave at this meeting. It will now be reduced to a Communist cell. This certainly must have been the intention of the leaders, for John Davis [John P. Davis, Executive Secretary of the NNC] is an astute person. He knew therefore that when he openly pledged the Congress to a pro-Soviet policy, and when he stated American Negroes would not fight against the Soviet Union, the Congress would be publicly branded as a Communist front. Davis also knows that it is not possible to build up a mass movement among either Negroes or whites in this country under the banner of the Communist Party. Therefore, it can only be concluded that this was a deliberate retreat from any hope of the Congress as a mass movement, and that it was dictated by the change in the line of the Communist Party from pursuance of the popular front to a policy of closing the ranks ...
The Congress just ended was an amazing demonstration of controlled mass psychology, organizational and intellectual regimentation and skillful demagoguery."
― 21 ―
With reference to the Southern Negro Youth Congress, an offshoot of the National Negro Congress, Mr. Record, on page 164, again cites my estimate:
"The Communist Party, however, was enthusiastic about its possibilities. Ford, for example, said:
The conference [first meeting of the SNYC] was an historic event in the life of the Negro people, and of the whole South. The young delegates came from all sections of the South, representing students, steel workers from Birmingham, sharecroppers - a cross-section of the Negro people ...
The conference was one of hope and determination. The evils against which these young people came to fight did not deter them, but spurred them on to solve their problems and build a future of happiness for the Negro people.
The NEW MASSES in reporting on the third meeting of the SNYC declared: `The Southern Negro Youth Congress is symptomatic of the awakening of the Negro people. The Negro people are beginning to close ranks and learning to join hands with progressive whites of common democratic aims'.
The third meeting of the SNYC in 1939 occurred prior to the signing of the Hitler-Stalin agreement. Consequently, the new "line" followed by the Party after the pact was not reflected in the resolutions and program adopted. Subsequent meetings and programs,
― 22 ―however, indicated clearly the extent to which the SNYC had been 'captured' by the Communists. Ralph Bunche observing the SNYC in 1942, declared:
The Southern Negro Youth Congress is a flame that flickers only feebly in a few southern cities today. It started with promise but, lacking competent leadership, it failed to catch the imagination of the young Negroes of the South. Its program has been diffuse and recently, at least, seems to take its cue in the major essentials from the `line' laid down by the American Communist Party.
Subsequent activities of the Congress which the writer observed at first hand bear out Bunche's earlier conclusions."
The Memorandum to which I refer and from which Mr. Record quotes, titled "The Programs, Ideologies, Tactics and Achievements of Negro Betterment and Inter-Racial Organizations", is appended as Exhibit 21. (It is the only complete copy I have and I therefore must request that it be returned to me when the Board has finished with it.) Pages 319 to 371 of this Memorandum present very clearly my appraisal of, attitudes toward and conclusions about the National Negro Congress and the finally successful effort of the Communist Party to dominate it. I call special attention to the "Critique of the National Negro Congress", in pages 353-371, inclusive of this Memorandum.
― 22 ―
Since the Memorandum is appended in full, it will suffice here to quote only a few significant passages from this document:
On page 357, I write:
"The account of the Third National Negro Congress is incorporated in this critique because the description of what happened at this meeting in Washington is the best critical analysis that can be given of the present status of the National Negro Congress and of its hope for the future. I think this description should be given in some detail because what transpired at this meeting is of the deepest import to all Negroes in this country. Moreover, it affords an excellent example of the perversion of the purpose of an organization to the selfish ends of a well-organized political minority within it.
The keynote of the Third National Negro Congress was struck in the first address at the opening meeting on Friday night, April 26, 1940, delivered by John L. Lewis in the Auditorium of the Department of Labor, in Washington. There were three main points in Lewis' speech: (1) a demand that the United States stay out of the war abroad; (2) development of democracy at home, especially for underprivileged groups like the Negro, and (3) an invitation for the Congress to affiliate itself with Labor's Non-Partisan League, based upon Lewis' all-out statement of friendship for the Negro. Lewis received a tremendous ovation.
President A. Phillip Randolph followed John L. Lewis, and in a very carefully prepared manuscript titled "The World Crisis and the Negro People Today", analyzed the direction of Negro interests in the present day. Randolph was fully aware of the temper of the Congress and knew that the position he would take would be very
― 23 ―unpopular. It had been bruited about for some months that there was internal dissension in the Congress and that Randolph, the President, and John Davis, the Secretary, were at odds on policy. The Auditorium was packed with 1,700 people at the opening meeting when Randolph began his paper. No more than one-third of this audience remained at the conclusion of Randolph's address. But it cannot be said that the audience left only because of the length of Randolph's talk. Within the first fifteen minutes of his paper it was noticeable that an exodus began and this coincided with Randolph's first statement to the effect that the Soviet Union is pursuing power politics and that what is in the national interests of the Soviet Union is not necessarily in the interests of world peace and democracy. In other words, when Randolph grouped the Soviet Union with the other imperialist and totalitarian nations, many in his audience became offended. The first exodus was led by white delegates of whom there were a great many present. But throughout his address there was continued restlessness and a gradual disappearance of the audience. Hostile criticisms and murmurs were heard throughout the audience whenever Randolph made any uncomplimentary remark about the Soviet Union.
As a matter of fact, Randolph's speech was a very fair one. He merely cautioned the Negro that it would be foolish for him to tie up his own interests with the foreign policy of the Soviet Union or any other nation of the world. Nor would the Negro be sensible in hoping that through tying himself to any American organization, political or labor, he would find a ready solution for his problem. He cautioned the Congress against a too close relationship with any organization, mentioning the major parties, the Communist Party, the Socialist Party (of which he is a member) and the C.I.O. He expressed the view that the Negro Congress should remain independent and non-partisan, and that it should be built up by Negro effort alone. He ridiculed the assumption that the
― 24 ―Communist Party, aligned with the political course of the Soviet Union, could pursue a constructive policy with regard to Negro interests here. He pointed to the whimsey and capriciousness characteristic of the foreign policy of the Soviet Union as reflected in the `party line' of the Communist Party here. He made it clear that he believed in the program enunciated at the very first meeting of the Congress; viz: the development of a minimum program of action on the basis of which all Negro organizations might unite in a common effort to establish an effective national Negro pressure group. Randolph vigorously attacked the Dies Committee and just as vigorously emphasized the loyalty of American Negroes to America. He made the express statement that in a conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union the Negro people would go to war against Russia, just as they would join in a war against any other country. He appealed for a leadership in the Congress that would be
Randolph's speech threw a bombshell into the Congress. In discussing his speech after the meeting with members whom I knew to be very sympathetic to the Congress and to the line it was following, the reaction in general was that they had expected Randolph to take an opposition stand but had not expected him to speak so vigorously and so frankly. It became apparent immediately that Randolph would either have to resign or would be put out, since the sentiment of the Congress was so definitely in pursuit of different objectives.
― 25 ―This, of course, is explained by the composition of the delegates. The vast majority represented unions, and these were almost entirely C.I.O. unions. The Negro rank and file did not know what it was all about, except when perfervid speeches were made demanding antilynching legislation, the franchise, and full democracy for the Negro. The more subtle aspects of the line that was being followed were over the heads of most of the rank and file, but the Congress was well organized and the speeches were all of a pattern. Some of the best haranguers were put through their paces, including men like Henry Johnson and Rev. Whitfield, and there was never a doubt of the ability of the Congress leadership to hold the mass to the course that had been mapped out. John Davis, it is said, stayed up all Friday night writing a reply to Randolph's address, as the report of the executive secretary to the Congress. This report devoted a minimum of attention to the work of the Congress, but was a deliberate attempt to reply to the statements made by Randolph the night before. It embraced an attack upon the Dies Committee, a demand for the realization of democracy at home, opposition to American participation in the `imperialist' war abroad, and a repetition of the slogan of the Congress, (which is also the current slogan of the Communist Party, as indicated in all of their recent tracts) `The Yanks are not coming'. The two most significant features of the speech by John Davis were his pro-Soviet remarks based upon his personal experience and observations in the Soviet Union, and his allegation that `the American people will refuse to follow [sic] victims to anti-Soviet adventures, will refuse to join American or world imperialists in any attack against the Soviet people'."
On page 361 of the Memorandum, I made the following analysis of this episode:
― 26 ―
"Randolph was obviously receiving no support in his warning against `slogan thinking' on the Negro question. While all of the Congress partisans were charging Randolph with confusion and even with having been subsidized by opposition elements, it remained clear to any intelligent person that Randolph was stating an obvious truth; namely, that the Negro problem cannot be worked out through an escape based upon easy formulae, whether the formula is in terms of affiliation with the Communist Party, the C.I.O., the Republican Party, the New Deal, or whatever organisation. In the Negro problem there is no substitute for intelligent, independent thinking and courageous action. The line adopted by the Congress leaders was being accepted by the rank and file, blindly, and with religious fervor."
Further, on page 362, I state:
"Throughout, there was a blind acceptance of the current Communist party line with regard to foreign affairs. Every major speech with the exception of Randolph's followed the party line and devoted itself exclusively to the following points: (1) strict neutrality in the present war, involving a denunciatim of Roosevelt's `un-neutral' foreign policy; (2) fight for democracy at home; (3) attack on the Dies Committee; (4) vigorous attack on French and British imperialism; (5) demand for passage of the Anti-lynch Bill, the Anti-Poll tax Bill, and the Marcantonio Fair Standards Bill. It was very noticeable that the Soviet Union was never bracketed with the totalitarian states, and that Germany and Hitler were carefully ignored. The attack was centered upon imperialist England and France and imperialist, undemocratic America. It was noticeable, too, that on the few occasions when the Soviet Union was mentioned, enthusiastic applause was always given.
― 27 ―
"There were many rumors of all sorts of inside politics, of packed delegations, etc., but none of this could be proved. One could not help but remember, however, that the same organisations and the same leaders who just a year ago were condemning Roosevelt because he did not intervene in Spain, and who were busily soliciting funds to support the various American brigades in Spain on the grounds (and it seems to me to have been a sound one), that the battle for democracy was being fought in Spain and that the interests of American Negroes were definitely involved there, have now made an abrupt about-face and charge that America has no interests in Europe, that the present European war is strictly an imperialist one, and are bitterly denouncing the President for even suggesting that America has a vested interest in what transpires in Europe. One could not help but feel that the pivot in this mental juggling is Russia, and now that Russia is on the other side, the cards are being stacked differently. It was constantly suggested that the war abroad is a war of the imperialist countries against the Soviet Union. Speakers like James Ford and Max Yergan, (the new President of the Congress) devoted themselves entirely to French, British, and American imperialism. Ford, for example, contended that Negroes and labor will not go to war for American imperialism, and charged that the United States is trying to draw the Latin-American countries into this war and to set up reactionary dictatorships in them, especially in Mexico. He charged that the Dies Committee is spending large sums in Mexico and is plotting to assassinate Mexican labor leaders, to overthrow the workers government, etc. He presented an horrific story of American troops on the border, spies overrunning Mexico, etc."
Commenting, on page 368, on Randolph's courageous speech of resignation, I wrote:
― 28 ―
"There was an embarrassing silence and no applause when Randolph concluded. It was apparent that the whole thing was cut and dried, for while Randolph was speaking, Max Yergan moved up to the front row. Immediately following Randolph's remarks the chairman of the Presiding Committee presented his report and name for President, Max Yergan. There was an immediate ovation, and Randolph, who had retired very graciously, promptly handed the gavel of the Presiding Officer to Yergan. Yergan made an innocuous statement of acceptance, with some lame praise for Randolph and some vacuous reference to `winning democracy for the American Negro'. I could not help but reflect while this transpired that the one Negro among all those present who had really worked and sacrificed in the labor movement among Negroes, and who was thoroughly steeped in Negro working-class lore, was being replaced by a rank neophyte, a former Y.M.C.A. Secretary who had been long engaged in missionary work in South Africa, and who now can only parrot the slogans laid down in the party tracts."
And finally, I drew the following conclusions on pages 369-70:
"In my estimation the Negro Congress dug its own grave at this meeting. It will now be reduced to a Communist cell. This certainly must have been the intention of the leaders, for John Davis is an astute person. He knew, therefore, that when he openly pledged the Congress to a pro-Soviet policy, and when he stated that American Negroes would not fight against the Soviet Union, that the Congress would be publicly branded as a Communist front. Davis also knows that it is not possible to build up a mass movement among either Negroes or whites in this country under the banner of the Communist Party. Therefore, it can only be concluded that this was a deliberate retreat from any hope for the Congress as a mass movement, and
― 29 ―that it was dictated by the change in the line of the Communist Party from pursuance of the popular front to a policy of closing ranks. The Congress will obviously and by its own volition be plastered from one end of the country to the other as a Communist organization. This will mean that many of the `leaders' who have been doing yeoman service for the Congress, including teachers and professional men, will run to cover. Many of these were active only because of the prestige and power and leadership afforded anyway, and without much understanding of the subtle aspects of Congress policy. They will not be willing to run the risk of being labelled Communists in order to continue in these rewards. My prediction is that the Congress membership will soon be reduced to devout party members, close fellow travelers, and representatives of the C.I.O. unions. All of these elements are, of course, employed by John L. Lewis in his effort to build up his own power and to elevate himself to prominence as a presidential candidate in 1944. I do not mean by this that there should be any indictment of Lewis' labor policy with regard to Negro workers. I think that is highly commendable and should be supported. I do feel, however, that John L. considers himself of presidential timber and that he intends to try to rally about him all of the dissentist elements in the country.
I think that this third Negro Congress was an historic meeting and in it Phil Randolph played the most dramatic role."
My hopes for the National Negro Congress died with the actions of the Third Congress at the Washington (April, 1940) meeting, which led to the above words. My active participation in its affairs had, in fact, ceased long before, in 1936.