The Communist Party and the Black Liberation Movement: A History

April 7, 2020
The Communist Party and the Black Liberation Movement: A History

The Specter sits down with Party co-chair Joe Sims to discuss the Communist Party’s historical involvement with the Black liberation movement. Sims goes into detail about his own involvement with the movement, specifically as a member of the Young Workers Liberation League and as editor of the Party’s theoretical journal Political Affairs, and his involvement with the international youth festivals and the struggle against apartheid in South Africa. They discuss current struggles in the fight against racism in the criminal justice system, the racial/social division of labor, voter suppression, and the racial wealth gap and finding permanent solutions to these problems.

Sims dives into why the capitalist economic system is an oppressive system and why Black people cannot achieve liberation without developing an anti-capitalist framework, further saying that “this country [the United States] was built on a racist foundation.” They discuss in detail why socialists should not think in a class-reductionist framework while fighting racism. The national question and how it pertains to Black Americans and different forms of oppression are also discussed.

Sims touches on struggles that the CPUSA has been involved in, such as the fight to free the Scottsboro Nine, Black workers being unionized in the CIO, the fight against segregation in the South, and the fight against apartheid in South Africa. They end this conversation talking about different forms of Black nationalism and some critiques of it.

Racism Harms All, by G. L. Morrison

Further reading:

  1. W. E. B. Du Bois, “100 Years of Negro Freedom,” in Freedom (1953). Reprinted in Political Affairs (2007).
  2. Cedric J. Robinson, Black Marxism: The Making of the Black Radical Tradition (1983).
  3. Harry Haywood, Black Bolshevik (1978).
  4. Robin D. G. Kelley, Hammer and Hoe: Alabama Communists during the Great Depression (1990).
  5. Carole Boyce Davies, Left of Karl Marx: The Political Life of Black Communist Claudia Jones (2008).
  6. Mark D. Naison, Communists in Harlem during the Depression (1984).
  7. Henry Winston, Strategy for a Black Agenda: A Critique of New Theories of Liberation in the United States and Africa (1973).
  8. W. E. B. Du Bois, Black Reconstruction 1860–1880 (1935).
  9. William Patterson, We Charge Genocide: The Crime of Government against Negro People (1951).
  10. Erik S. McDuffie, Sojourning for Freedom: Black Women, American Communism, and the Making of Black Left Feminism (2011).
  11. Gerald Horne, Black Revolutionary: William Patterson and the Globalization of the African American Freedom Struggle (2013).
  12. Gerald Horne, Black Liberation/Red Scare: Ben Davis and the Communist Party (1994).


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