Communism Made Space For Black Women With Urgent Needs

Angela Davis
Brooke Brown
May 20, 2020

By the end of the Great Depression, the New Deal promised federal aid to every citizen - a promise it refused to honor for struggling Black folks. 

In swooped American Communist Party (CPUSA) organizers, when Black women needed jobs as well as freedom from racial discrimination and gender oppression. The communists promised the very things that working class laborers regardless of region, education, or political experience longed for.

The CPUSA built unions, staged protests in which Black women could happily assume leadership as visionaries, rather than shrink to “keep up appearances.” They retaliated against landlords in the rural Black Belt region who threatened members with evictions or utility shut offs, and as if that weren’t enough, shook the table once more. 

This time even the NAACP had to take note.

NAACP leader Walter White was arguing the innocence of the Scottsboro Boys - nine Black teenagers accused of raping two white women. It was the International Labor Defense, a Communist Party group, who mounted the youths’ legal defense and embarrassed America by condemning the injustice loudly to the international press.

Even as white people used the “communist” label to smear the unifying work of Black activists, Black women found within the party a chance to boldly demand better for themselves and other working class folks. Politicians were only disturbed because it worked! 

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