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We Shall Be Free!

Black Communist Protests in Seven Voices

Walter T. Howard

Publication Year: 2013

A groundbreaking contribution to scholarship of the African American Left, We Shall Be Free! gives voice to black Communists and recognizes the intellectual contributions found in their protest writings. Walter Howard provides a fascinating documentary history of seven diverse and historically significant black Communists--B.D. Amis, Harry Haywood, James W. Ford, Benjamin J. Davis, Jr., Louise Thompson Patterson, William Patterson, and Claudia Jones--who attempted to foster a black culture of resistance to white racism within the workings of the Communist Party. 

Howard draws on FBI files, Moscow documents, and the records of the U.S. Communist Party. He surveys these black Communists addressing a wide range of vital issues such as the Great Depression, World War II, genocide and the Cold War. 

We Shall Be Free! presents an important section of the African American community whose thought has been minimized, discounted, or overlooked altogether by the historical profession in general.

Published by: Temple University Press


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-9

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Preface and Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-xi

We Shall Be Free! seeks to break new ground in the scholarship of the African American Left. More specifically, it addresses a particular historical need to give voice to black Communists and to respect the intellectual contributions found in their protest writings. To be sure, a number of the...

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Prologue: The CPUSA and Black America, 1919–1928

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pp. 1-13

For the duration of the “Red Summer” of 1919, in the midst of the disorder that followed World War I and in the exhilaration stimulated by the Russian Revolution, white radicals in the United States kicked off the American Communist movement. Its birth was accompanied by an eruption...

Chronology: The CPUSA and African Americans

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pp. 15-20

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B. D. Amis

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pp. 21-34

The Civil War, a struggle between the industrial bourgeoisie of the North and the slave-owners of the South, did not achieve the real emancipation of the slaves. It is true that by an amendment to the federal constitution bourgeois democratic rights were granted, supposedly to guarantee...

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Harry Haywood

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pp. 35-69

Comrade Browder in his excellent report outlined in the clearest fashion the position of the Party on the Negro question, and laid the basis for a correct approach to our task in work among Negroes in the present period. Comrade Browder stressed the importance of the fight on two fronts against...

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James W. Ford

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pp. 57-74

The so-called Negro “problem” has seldom been stated from the class point of view. We are in the period of the decline and decay of capitalism. Capitalism and imperialism are undergoing rapid change because of this decline. Everywhere the standards of living of the workers and peasants...

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Benjamin J. Davis Jr.

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pp. 75-88

“Have Communists quit fi ghting for Negro rights?”—is, of course, a loaded question. Apparently, certain gentlemen on the affirmative are, at least, willing to confess that the Communists once did fight for Negro rights; and, I understand, honest confession is good for the soul. Communists...

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Louise Thompson Patterson

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pp. 89-108

In the current issue of THE CRISIS I noticed a statement of your not having seen any satisfactory explanation of the postponement of the film “Black and White,” for the making of which a group of twenty-two Negroes was invited to the Soviet Union last June [1932]. It is quite true that such...

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William L. Patterson

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pp. 109-139

Out of the inhuman black ghettos of American cities, out of the cotton plantations of the South, comes this record of mass slayings on the basis of race, of lives deliberately warped and distorted by the willful creation of conditions making for premature death, poverty and disease...

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Claudia Jones

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pp. 141-188

President Truman, in his capacity as chief political servitor of US imperialism, once again proposed, in his recent State of the Union Message to Congress, a criminal crusade of force and violence...

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pp. 189-192

On this fi rst day of October 1961, I am applying for admission to membership in the Communist Party of the United States. I have been long and slow in coming to this conclusion, but at last my mind is settled. In college I heard...

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 193-198


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pp. 199-208

E-ISBN-13: 9781439908617
E-ISBN-10: 1439908613
Print-ISBN-13: 9781439908594
Print-ISBN-10: 1439908591

Page Count: 220
Publication Year: 2013