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Communist leaders back to jail after bail revoked: 1951

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posted by Washington Area Spark alias Washington Area Spark on Tuesday 30th of June 2020 10:07:33 PM

U.S. Communist Party leaders Claudia Jones and Betty Gannett smile and sing songs in a police wagon in New York City after their bail was revoked July 17, 1951. They had originally been indicted along with 21 others for conspiring to teach and advocate the violent overthrow of the U.S. government. The group were labeled “second-string Reds” in the press. Four of those indicted were not found while othern17 had their bail posted by the Civil Rights Congress (CRC). However, the court later demanded the names and addresses of the contributors to the CRC bail fund. The officers of the CRC refused and were themselves jailed and bail revoked for the communists. It would be years later after many communist leaders were imprisoned that key provisions the Smith Act would be voided by the U.S. Supreme Court. Claudia Jones (1915-1964), political activist, communist, journalist, and community leader was born in Trinidad, and immigrated to the U.S. in 1924 with her parents and siblings. In 1936, trying to find organizations supporting the Scottsboro Boys, she joined the Young Communist League USA. In 1937 she joined the editorial staff of the Daily Worker, rising by 1938 to become editor of the Weekly Review. After the Young Communist League became American Youth for Democracy during World War II, Jones became editor of its monthly journal, Spotlight. After the war, Jones became executive secretary of the Women's National Commission, secretary for the Women's Commission of the Communist Party USA (CPUSA), and in 1952 took the same position at the National Peace Council. In 1953, she took over the editorship of Negro Affairs. As a member of the Communist Party USA and a black national feminist, Jones identified with black women's oppression, known as triple oppression. Her ideology consisted of a conceptualization of race, class, and gender within a Marxist lens. Her focus was on "an anti-imperialist coalition, managed by working-class leadership, fueled by the involvement of women." Jones was a Marxist feminist who did not believe that capitalism was the only oppressor contributing to sexism and racism. She sought job training programs, equal pay for equal work, government controls on food prices and funding for wartime childcare programs. Jones supported a subcommittee to address the "women's question." She insisted on development in the party on theoretical training of women comrades, organization of women into mass organizations, daytime classes for women, and "babysitter" funds to allow women's activism. Jones' best known piece of writing, "An End to the Neglect of the Problems of the Negro Woman!", appeared in 1949 in the magazine Political Affairs. It exhibits her development of what later came to be termed "intersectional" analysis within a Marxist framework. In it, she wrote: “The bourgeoisie is fearful of the militancy of the Negro woman, and for good reason. The capitalists know, far better than many progressives seem to know, that once Negro women begin to take action, the militancy of the whole Negro people, and thus of the anti-imperialist coalition, is greatly enhanced.” “Historically, the Negro woman has been the guardian, the protector, of the Negro family.... As mother, as Negro, and as worker, the Negro woman fights against the wiping out of the Negro family, against the Jim Crow ghetto existence which destroys the health, morale, and very life of millions of her sisters, brothers, and children.” “Viewed in this light, it is not accidental that the American bourgeoisie has intensified its oppression, not only of the Negro people in general, but of Negro women in particular. Nothing so exposes the drive to fascism in the nation as the callous attitude which the bourgeoisie displays and cultivates toward Negro women.” As an elected member of the National Committee of the Communist Party USA (CPUSA), Jones also organized and spoke at events. As a result of her membership of CPUSA and various associated activities, in 1948 she was arrested and sentenced to the first of four spells in prison. Incarcerated on Ellis Island, she was threatened with deportation to Trinidad. Following a hearing by the Immigration and Naturalization Service, she was found in violation of the McCarran Act for being an alien (non-US citizen) who had joined the Communist Party. Several witnesses testified to her role in party activities, and she had identified herself as a party member since 1936 when completing her Alien Registration on 24 December 1940, in conformity with the Alien Registration Act. She was ordered to be deported on 21 December 1950. In 1951, aged 36 and in prison, she suffered her first heart attack. That same year, she was tried and convicted with 11 other so-called “second string Reds,” including her friend Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, of "un-American activities" under the Smith Act--specifically activities against the United States government, though no specific act was cited—only general communist beliefs. The Supreme Court refused to hear their appeal. In 1955, Jones began her sentence of a year and a day at the Federal Reformatory for Women at Alderson, West Virginia. She was released on 23 October 1955. She was refused entry to Trinidad and Tobago, in part because the British colonial governor Major General Sir Hubert Elvin Rance considered that "she may prove troublesome". She was eventually offered residency in the United Kingdom on humanitarian grounds, and federal authorities agreed to allow it when she agreed to cease contesting her deportation. On 7 December 1955, at Harlem's Hotel Theresa, 350 people met to see her off. She continued her activism in the United Kingdom and from 1955 to 1964 Jones worked with London's African-Caribbean community doing political and cultural organizing. She founded and edited The West Indian Gazette and the Afro-Asian Caribbean News, and in 1959 helped organize a series of cultural events that grew to become the Notting Hill Carnival. Jones died on December 24, 1964 after a long illness. --partially excerpted from Wikipedia Betty Gannett Betty Gannett, Marxist theoretician, writer, and teacher, was active in the Communist Party, USA (CPUSA) for more than forty-five years. At the time of her death in 1970, she was editor of Political Affairs, the theoretical journal of the CPUSA, and a member of the Party's national and political committees. Born in 1906 in Poland, Gannett immigrated to the United States in 1914 and, with six brothers and sisters, was reared in poverty in New York City by her widowed mother who worked as a cook and maid. Terminating her public school education at age thirteen, Gannett then completed a two-year commercial course and became a secretary in the office of the AFL-United Garment Workers. Two of her sisters, who worked in the sweatshops of the garment district, were members of the union. Her next employment was in the office that produced the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers Journal, then edited by Albert F. Coyle. Drawing upon her working-class experience and a detailed study of Marxist literature, Gannett joined the Young Communist League (YCL) and the CP in 1923. From that time, her work for the Party dominated her life. In 1927 she accompanied the first rank-and-file delegation of American trade unionists to the Soviet Union and soon thereafter entered the Lenin School in Moscow. Subsequently many of her experiences and activities were international and included her active participation in debate within both Marxist and non-Marxist circles. This work outside the United States drew her into a wide range of activities including participation in the anti-Nazi German underground and in the foundation of the Young Communist League of Canada. Returning to the United States in 1928, the YCL sent her to Cleveland as an organizer which resulted in her being charged with criminal syndicalism. Although sentenced to ten years in prison, her conviction was reversed on appeal. During this period she also was taking an active part in the coal mine disputes in Western Pennsylvania. In 1929 Gannett became the national educational director of the YCL. Early in the 1930's Gannett returned to New York to serve as an editor of The Communist, a forerunner of Political Affairs, and of another CP publication, Party Organizer. She was also organizing secretary of the Party in Pennsylvania, again involving her in strike activities in Pennsylvania and Ohio in 1933. Two years later she was transferred to the west coast where she served as the first educational director of the California Party until 1941 and was a leader in the struggle to organize agricultural workers. While in California, she was one of the Founders of the Western Worker, a local CP publication, which became the People's World. In 1938 she married James J. (Jim) Tormey, then a leading figure in the California CP, who formerly had helped to rally support for the defense in the Scottsboro trials (1932) which had focused world-wide attention upon the arbitrary trial procedures frequently used in criminal cases involving Blacks in the South. From 1941 to 1944 Gannett served as Midwest regional coordinator of the Party. Headquartered in Chicago, she administered a territory that included most Midwestern states and all the Rocky Mountain states. Shortly before the end of World War II she returned to New York to be the assistant national organizational secretary of the CP, and in 1950 she became the Party's national educational director. In 1963 she was named executive editor of Political Affairs, then associate editor, and finally editor in 1966. Her death on March 4, 1970 followed a long illness. In addition to Gannett's functions in the CP, her career was filled with a variety of legal problems arising solely from her Party affiliation and activities. The government unsuccessfully attempted to deport her in 1949, as she never acquired American citizenship. In 1951, during the McCarthy period, she, together with 16 other second-level CP leaders, was convicted under the Smith Act. Charged with conspiring to overthrow the government by force and violence. Gannett and her fellow defendants vigorously denied that they planned to initiate any violence, arguing that they would use force only to defend the decisions of a majority. Failing with this defense, she spent two years, 1955 and 1956, at the women's federal prison in Alderson, West Virginia. After her release, she was harassed for the rest of her life. Another attempt was made to deport her, and when it failed, the Immigration Bureau sought to have her report once a week to Ellis Island and to remain within a fifty-mile radius of Times Square. Through litigation, she overcame the government's requirements, thus setting a precedent against its indiscriminate denial of civil liberties to aliens. --Gannett biography excerpted from University of Wisconsin Digital Collections For other random radicals, see The photographer is unknown. The image is an Associated Press photograph housed in the D.C. Library Washington Star Collection.

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