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Red-Scare Tactics in 1960s against Black Communist Revolutionaries: “Revolution Underway”


“Revolution Underway” is a preserved documentary report on Black Communist revolutionary activities during planned riots throughout 20 states in the 1960s. Conservatives are sharing it to de-legitimize the real issues of police brutality, militarized police, racism, and so forth. In these times, the classic red scare propaganda aims at destroying or obstructing all revolutionary and civil rights action, whether it is expressed peacefully or violently. For the Conservatives, the protests of our time are the machinations of an Anti-American coup through-and-through, and the hard-bullet and the tear gas is for them, a justified measure. This is modern Conservatism — left to the last generation’s children and thirty-year old men “meme’ing” and mocking protesters from the comfort of their homes, or fighting in their groups of white militia-men.

“The motion picture you are about to see does not concern itself with the “social” or “civil” rights of American citizens or with the economic or social problems of American cities. It was produced to warn citizens of the nature of a revolutionary force, affiliating itself openly with the aims of international Communism, and now active throughout our nation in a planned offensive to destroy the American system and seize control of the United States.”

I am not a socialist, but atleast, from a scholarly and historical perspective, I think it is vital to understand the effort and role of American Communists that sought to radicalize yet help Blacks in the fight for racial equality, when and where they needed it. I particularly like this book of Erik S. McDuffie, Sojourning for Freedom: Black Women, American Communism, and the Making of Black Left Feminism.

This understanding is also best exemplified in a 2010 interview between NPR host Michael Martin and Robin Kelley (American Historian of the University of Oxford and Author, Hammer and Hoe: Alabama Communists During the Great Depression).

Prof. KELLEY: “In 1928, the communist position internationally was that African-Americans in the South have the right to self-determination. Meaning: they have the right to create their own nation in the South. In this position that came out of Moscow, it came from other black communists around the globe.

And with that idea in mind, they sent two organizers to Alabama and they went to Birmingham. And they chose Birmingham because it was probably the most industrialized city in the South. And they went there thinking they would organize white workers. And from white workers, black workers would follow. But no white workers had come forward.

And so, the first two organizers was a guy named James Julio(ph), who was a Sicilian worker who had migrated to Alabama, and another guy named Tom Johnson(ph), and together they went out looking for white workers and black workers came.

And black workers came in fairly large numbers right away because to them, they had a memory of reconstruction, the memory of the Civil War. And in that kind of collective memory, they were told that one day the Yankees will come back and finish the fight. Well, when they saw these white communists, they said, oh, good, the Yankees are here. We cant wait to join.

MARTIN: What was the Communist Partys message at that time and why were these black folks so attracted to it?

Prof. KELLEY: Well, there were three things they focused on. One, because it was during the Great Depression, their primary focus was the unemployed. And so their demands were, we want either work or some kind of support from the government. The second thing was, in 1931, we had the famous Scottsboro case, where nine young black men were arrested falsely for raping two white women and they end up going to jail.

Well, these cases happen all the time where black men are falsely accused. The difference was that the Communist Party made the Scottsboro issue an international issue. They put it in the newspapers. They spread the word all over the globe in different languages. And these unknown figures, some of them became a kind of (unintelligible).

And finally, the third thing was basic civil rights: the right to vote, the right to sit on juries, you know, the right to not be Jim Crowed or segregated. These things certainly drew out black working people.” (How ‘Communism’ Brought Racial Equality To The South)

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