African American Communist: James W. Ford (1893-1957)


Black History Month Special

Part of a series on African American communists in US history.

Before working for the Communist Party, James Ford had been active in the labor movement, including working in the Chicago Federation of Labor. In 1929, he and William L. Patterson attended the Second Congress of the League Against Imperialism in Frankfurt, Germany. The following year, when the First International Congress of Negro Workers was convened in Hamburg, Germany, Ford became its secretary and opened an office in Hamburg, where he established relationships with African and Asian workers and helped them to organize.

When he returned to the US, he became the first African American to run for vice-president of the United States (he ran in 1932, 1936, and 1940).

For more information: Ford, James W. (1893-1957) from the Black Past Encyclopedia

(Compiled by Kevin Lindemann)

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  • Hello Mr. Gilbert. I am searching for descendants of James Ford for a story about him. If you find this will you please contact me at I would love to speak with you about your family.

    Posted by James Born, 07/06/2015 9:09am (7 months ago)

  • Please can you put me in touch with James W. Ford's legatees, as I need permission to translate an article he wrote in 1934?

    my email address is

    Posted by Genevieve Chevallier, 05/09/2014 6:22pm (2 years ago)

  • James W. Ford was my uncle. He married Reva Gilbert, My father's sister. Do you have any information on their relationship? Also, did you know that when Angela Davis was "underground" in New York, she used the last name, "Gilbert"? Do you have any information about that? I suppose it had something to do with my aunt. Were there ever any other Black vise-presidential candidates on the CP ticket?

    Posted by Joseph Gilbert, 02/24/2012 12:03pm (4 years ago)

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