Benjamin J. Davis: The Communist Councilman from Harlem

BY:Communist Party USA| November 29, 2018
Benjamin J. Davis: The Communist Councilman from Harlem


Using newspapers, election materials and historical documents, this webinar explores the unique set of circumstances leading to Ben Davis Jr. becoming a “communist councilman” from Harlem and the persecution he faced at the beginning of the Red Scare.

Davis was sentenced to five years in prison after he was a defendant in the first of the Smith Act Trials. Dr. White considers lessons from his life, the way he was portrayed in media and reassess his impact on the American left and working-class movement.

Editor’s Note: Dr. Prince White, the author of this webinar, passed away after a brief illness earlier this year.


    The Communist Party USA is a working class organization founded in 1919 in Chicago, IL.

    The Communist Party stands for the interests of the American working class and the American people. It stands for our interests in both the present and the future. Solidarity with workers of other countries is also part of our work. We work in coalition with the labor movement, the peace movement, the student movement, organizations fighting for equality and social justice, the environmental movement, immigrants rights groups and the health care for all campaign.

    But to win a better life for working families, we believe that we must go further. We believe that the American people can replace capitalism with a system that puts people before profit — socialism.

    We are rooted in our country's revolutionary history and its struggles for democracy. We call for "Bill of Rights" socialism, guaranteeing full individual freedoms.

Comments (2)

jules | December 21, 2018 at 12:34 AM

A truly important contribution towards understanding how America was shaped to fear all that was falsely promoted as evil…the paranoia and suspicion that pervaded us was used to separate and divide… Ben Davis felt the full brunt of government persecution…
Sadly, the division and suspicion is still with us, all these later.

Barbara Russum | December 06, 2018 at 2:34 PM

Book available from International Publishers NY: “Communist Councilman from Harlem, Autobiographical Notes Written in a Federal Penitentiary,” by Ben Davis. With original Foreword by the late Henry Winston, who was national chairman of the Communist Party USA. Introduction by veteran journalist and political activist, the late Simon W. Gerson. The Notes were written while Ben Davis served prison time for a Smith Act conviction later ruled unconstitutional. Index. Notes. 252 pages, paperback, $6.95, ISBN: 978-0-7178-0680-5.

Photo ID: Benjamin J. Davis, surrounded by supporters, leaving the Federal Courthouse in New York City in 1949. New York World-Telegram and the Sun staff photographer C.M. Stieglitz. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. New York World-Telegram and the Sun Newspaper Photograph Collection. Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons.

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