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"Roots" hoax

The Roots Hoax

Black writer Alex Haley (1921-1992) made a great deal of money from his
1976 book Roots and the television min-series that followed a year later.
The book purported to be the true story of Haleys slave ancestors. He
followed a family oral tradition all the way back to Africa where he met a
tribal wise man whose orals traditions matched Haleys: Slave traders
snatched distant ancestor Kunta Kinte and hauled him off to America. Roots goes
on for 700 pages and six generations of black resistance to white

The book won a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award, and was issued as
a Readers Digest condensed book. It was published in 37 languages and has
been used in courses at approximately 500 colleges. There is even a Cliff
Notes-like Novels For Students version for scholars in a hurry, and the
book is still promoted as a true story. In fact, early parts of the book are
worse than invention; they are lifted straight out of a 1967 novel called
The African by a white author, Harold Courlander. Courlander sued Haley
or plagiarism in 1978, forced him to admit he had copied long passages, and
collected $650,000 in damages.

This, however, has done almost nothing to tarnish Haleys reputation. By
the time of the suit, Roots was already a cultural icon and a source of
pride for black Americans. Judge Robert Ward, who presided over the
plagiarism case, urged Courlander to keep quiet since the truth would be too
great a blow to black pride. The co-sponsor of the Annapolis slavery walk
in September, 2004 was none other than the Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley
Foundation, whose purpose is to encourage greater study and awareness of
African-American culture, history, archaeology and genealogy.

From American Renaissance, November, 2004


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Foundation of the Civil Rights Movement: The CPUSA

The Foundation of the Civil Rights Movement: The CPUSA

The Negro Question was a subject central to the CPUSAs policy. The debates on this took place in early in 1946 and a specially formed National Negro Commission was occupied with the matter all year. Nothing touched so many of the Partys passions, hopes and calculations as its attitude toward the Negro, and the matter went far beyond championing an oppressed and neglected minority. This concern with the Negro question had, to be sure, a long history.

At their inception in 1919, the American communists shared the prevailing attitude of the Socialist party and the International Workers of the World, that the Negro was part of the oppressed population as a whole. It sufficed to oppose discrimination on grounds of race or color, and it was assumed that racial antagonisms would come to an end when the contradictions of capitalism were overcome by a new social order. Any special program for the Negro was viewed as reverse racism. By the mid-1920s the American communists were deeply impressed by the Marcus Garvey Return to Africa movement, and they were intrigued by how they might exploit this nationalist potential.

In the late 1920s, the Comintern assisted the CPUSA in reaching a doctrinal change. American Negroes came to be viewed as a distinct people, as an oppressed nation within the United States, conforming in all essentials to Stalins definition of oppressed nations, which was derived from the experience of eastern Europe and the Tsarist empire. [and] had the right of self-determination. That is, this majority was entitled to the functions of sovereignty including the reorganization of State lines to make possible a Black Republic. The party did not propose secession of this conjectured republic but emphasized its right to secede if the Negro majority so desired[but] Increasingly the communists came to believe that the struggle of American Negroes for equal rights and for changes in the predominantly agrarian structure of the South would bring them into such basic conflict with monopoly capital that they would constitute a powerful ally of the white working class.

Strategically then, the issue of democratic rights for the Negro became a central ingredient in the overturn of Harry Haywood, one of the original architects of the concept put it, The full unleashing of the struggle for Negro liberation meant bringing up the strategic reserve of democracy and socialism and striking at the Achilles heel of American imperialism.

The communists had won adherents because they had championed immediate, simple and practical issues comprehensible to the Negro at a time when few other political forces paid him any attention.

In line with the creation of an interracial organization in the North, the Party set out to eliminate all racial barriers and to dispel any notions of racism within its own ranks. One way of demonstrating this commitment was by elevating blacks to positions of leadership. Significant in this case was the nomination of James W. Ford as vice-presidential candidate on the communist ticket in 1932. The national secretary of the ILD, William L. Patterson, and one of the national leaders of the Young Communist League, Henry Winston, were also black, as were a growing number of Party officials. The communists also played a part in sparking all sorts of campaigns: to inaugurate Negro History Week in the public schools; to persuade Branch Rickey to hire the first black baseball player for the Dodgers (this was the almost singlehanded work of the Daily Worker sports editor); to protest the darkey dolls and chauvinistic figurines in local neighborhood stores.

American Communism in Crisis, Joseph R. Starobin, University of California Press, 1972)
The Communist Party of the United States, Fraser M. Ottanelli, Rutgers Press, 1991)


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James W. Ford

James W. Ford: First Black American On a Presidential Ticket

James W. Ford (1893-1957) was born in Pratt City, Alabama on December 22, 1893, the son of Lymon Forsch, the son later Anglicizing the name. He was educated at the Fisk University (as was WEB DuBois) where he excelled at athletics and became active in campus politics. He served in the American military in France during World War One, returning to a federal job in the Chicago Post Office. It was here he became radicalized after joining the Postal Workers Union, and then joined the American Communist Party (CPUSA).

Ford rose quickly through Party ranks as the Soviets placed great emphasis on recruiting blacks to their ranks to explore racial hostility in this country, and as a means to destroy capitalism and what they saw as American imperialism abroad. In 1926, Ford joined the communist-front American Negro Congress (ANC) and in a meteoric rise after visiting the Soviet Union in August, 1928 to represent the American Communist Party at the 6th World Congress of the Comintern (Communist International), and being elected to the Comiterns Negro Commission, he was selected to head the International Trade Union Committee of Negro Workers in 1929. He also served as editor of the latters propaganda journal, The Negro Worker.

In 1930, Ford returned to the US and was appointed to lead the Negro Department of the Trade Union Unity League; and assumed the role as vice president of the League of Struggle for Negro Rights. These communist-dominated labor and agitation fronts would form the basis for the so-called civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, using mass public disruption tactics to force appeasement and then government recognition and protection.

To attract the black vote to the CPUSA, Ford was selected as the vice presidential candidate on William Z. Fosters presidential ticket in 1932 and became the first African American to be nominated for this office. In 1936 and 1940, Ford ran alongside CPUSA presidential candidate Earl Browder. The Partys reasoning was that The placing of a black man near the top of the CPUSA ticket was symbolic of the Partys self-declared commitment to racial equality. When asked about the chances for the Partys black candidates, Ford replied The Communist Party is not stupid; we know that better than 4 million Negroes in this country[could vote the CPUSA ticket]. While polling a large number of votes, Franklin Roosevelts move to the extreme left of politics and appointment of communist labor organizers like Sidney Hillman blunted the impact of the CPUSA, and drew the social and much of the communist vote to the Democratic party after 1935. By 1940, little distinguished the Democrat platform from the CPUSAs list of demands.

After the 1932 election, Ford was sent by the Party to Harlem as a section organizer where he ousted black communists Cyril Briggs and Richard Moore who were promoting a race-conscious revolutionary nationalism similar to Marcus Garveys black nationalism. He would reestablish and consolidate CPUSA Central Committee authority in Harlem, and became instrumental in forming the National Negro Congress in 1936 as another front to organize black communists and bring votes to the Party. As an indication of his stature in the Party, the CPUSA sent Ford to the Soviet Union in the summer of 1935 as a delegate to the 7th World Congress of the Comintern.

In early January 1936 Ford travelled to North Carolina where he spoke at mass church meetings in Greensboro, Durham and Charlotte, explaining that the CPUSA opposed Mussolini in his seizure of Ethiopia, and urging that church members support the Party. Many black churches enthusiastically received Ford and allowed the Party to make dozens of speeches before their congregations. Ford pressed the Party message that claimed America was heading toward fascism if it continued to allow big capitalists to dominate the nation. Fascism is capitalism without democracy, he declared, Communism is democracy without capitalism.

In October Ford toured the nation in support of CPUSA candidates and encouraged blacks to vote the CPUSA ticket. On October 25th he was in Durham where local black communist organizers claimed the mayor had planned to ban Ford from speaking---not true, but the propaganda value was used to heighten interest in Fords tour. That afternoon he was interviewed on a half-hour radio program, and in the evening spoke to about 500 supporters, 80 percent black.

Ford and North Carolina CPUSA leaders approved of Soviet Ambassador A.A. Troyansky speaking on the University of North Carolina (UNC) campus then, and contacted Leon Trotsky to speak at UNC on Lenin and the Revolutionary Struggle. Secretary of State Cordell Hull would not grant a visa for Trotsky. Ford caused a major incident when he dined with UNC professor E.E. Ericson as the latter had been identified as a past supporter of Norman Thomass Socialist Party, and leftist UNC President Frank Porter Graham was known to harbor communist sympathies and faculty members. While in North Carolina, Ford would have met Burlington CPUSA organizer Don West who formed the Highlander Folk School in Tennessee, a communist labor training camp. Highlander would later be a agiprop training ground for Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King.

The CPUSA sent Ford to Spain in 1937 during the Spanish Civil War as a show of solidarity with the American leftists serving with the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, and as encouragement for American blacks to volunteer as Republican (Communist) soldiers fighting against Franco.

The North Carolina Peace Committee (NCPC), the State organ of the communist-led American Peace Movement, held a rally on the UNC campus in May, 1940, encouraged by UNC President Graham. The Charlotte Observer editorialized that the NCPC and CPUSA were traitors and hid their real goal, the overthrow of the American republican form of government, under the veil of pacifism and free speech.

Also, Ford spoke along with New York black communist Benjamin J. Davis on the campus of historically black Shaw University in Raleigh, where they advised non-intervention in Europe now that the Soviets had allied with Hitler, and reiterated communist demands that State and federal governments do more to help all Americans suffering from the Depression. Party leaders like Ford insisted that the workers of North Carolina receive relief benefits because they produce so much wealth for the State and the industrial powers than control it, demanded a State pension for the elderly, abolish fees for public school books, adequate school buses, free hot lunches, a State health care plan for all, and equalizing white and black schools.

Fords running mate Earl Browder dissolved the CPUSA in 1944 and replaced it with the Communist Political Association, Ford being chosen as vice president of this new organization. In May, 1945, Moscow expressed its displeasure at Browders and Fords independent action by demoting them both---expelling Browder---Ford would be replaced as Americas Leading Black Communist by Benjamin J. Davis of New York. Probably for reasons of attracting black communist votes to the Democratic party in 1948, Ford was not prosecuted by the US Justice Department for his role in the leadership of the CPUSA. Ford died in relative obscurity in 1957.

Communists in Harlem During the Depression, Mark Naison, University of Illinois Press, 1983
The Cry Was Unity, Communists and African Americans, University of Mississippi Press, 1998
The History of the North Carolina Communist Party, Gregory S. Taylor, USC Press, 2009
Wikipedia online

-- Edited by CharlesRay on Friday 19th of February 2010 08:11:07 AM


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Jim Limber Davis

Sunday, February 14, 2010
Jim Limber Davis - Story of Adopted Black Child
Feb. 12, 2010

Jim Limber Davis -- Rescued by the Confederacy's First Lady
By Calvin E. Johnson Jr. Special to

February is Black History Month. In 1989, a magazine article caught my eye which I had to read from beginning to end. This was not an ordinary story but about a black child, a Confederate President's First Lady and the Southern Presidential Family. The story was written by Gulfport, Mississippi freelance writer Mrs. Peggy Robbin's and is entitled, "Jim Limber Davis."

While Black History Month mostly focuses on black adults in history, this story is about a black child. This is a summary, in my own words, of Mrs. Robbin's splendid story.

On the morning of February 15, 1864, Mrs. Varina Davis, wife of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, had concluded her errands and was driving her carriage down the streets of Richmond, Virginia on her way home. She heard screams from a distance and quickly went to the scene to see what was happening. Varina saw a young black child being abused by an older man. She demanded that he stop striking the child and when this failed she shocked the man by forcibly taking the child away. She took the child to her carriage and with her to the Confederate White House. Arriving home Mrs. Davis and maid 'Ellen' gave the young boy a bath, attended to his cuts and bruises and feed him. The only thing he would tell them is that his name was Jim Limber. He was happy to be rescued and was given some clothes of the Davis' son Joe who was the same size and age.

Joe was tragically killed in an accidental fall later that year. The Davis family were visited the following evening by a friend of Varina's, noted Southern Diarist-Mary Boykin Chesnut, who saw Jim Limber and wrote later that she had seen the boy and that he was eager to show me his cuts and bruises. She also said, "the child is an orphan rescued yesterday from a brutal Negro Guardian." and "there are things in life that are too sickening, and such cruelty is one of them." There were some children who addressed Jim as Jim Limber Davis for fun. This was fine with him because he felt he was indeed a member of the family.

The Davis letters to friends are indication of his acceptance and they said he was a member of their gang of children. The Christmas of 1864, would be memorable for the Davis family and probably the best Christmas Jim Limber would ever have. A Christmas tree was set up in Saint Paul's Church, decorated and gifts placed beneath it. On Christmas evening orphans were brought to the church and were delighted with the presents they got. Jim was happy that he helped decorate the tree.

Mrs. Robbin's wrote, in her story, that Mrs. Jefferson Davis was a very good story teller who was able to make sounds of different animals in the stories about the critters. Jim was always eager to help. The end of the War Between the States was coming and Richmond was being evacuated. Varina and the children left ahead of Jefferson Davis. The president and his staff left just hours before the occupation of Union troops. Varina and the children were by the side of Jefferson Davis at his capture near Irwinville, Georgia and again the family was separated.

Jefferson Davis was taken to Virginia to spend two years in prison. Mrs. Davis and her children were taken to Macon, Georgia and later to Port Royal outside of Savannah. At Port Royal their Union escort, Captain Charles T. Hudson, made good at his earlier threats to take Jim Limber away. As the Union soldiers came to forcibly take young Jim, he put up a great struggle and tried to hold onto his family as they to him. Jim and his family cried uncontrollably as the child was taken. His family would never again see him or know what happened to him. The Davis' tried in later years to locate Jim but were unsuccessful. They prayed that he grew to manhood and did well in life.

The Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond, Virginia is home to a portrait of Jim Limber Davis in the Eleanor S. Brookenbrough Library. I thank Mrs. Peggy Robbin's who wrote the Jim Limber Davis story in 1989 and the Southern Partisan Magazine for publishing her story in the second quarter Issue-Volume IX of 1989.

For more information about Jefferson Davis go to:, the website about the last home of Jefferson Davis where the Jefferson Davis Presidential Library is also located.

Calvin Johnson, from Kennesaw, GA, is an American-Historical writer, author of book When America Stood for God, Family and Country and member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.


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Black History Month

George Dereef, Slaveholding Family Descendant and NAACP Member:

George Dereef, a Wisconsin attorney, was the descendant of a slave-holding free family of color from Charleston, South Carolina whose members had belonged to the Brown Fellowship Society. Originally from South Carolina, Dereef settled in Milwaukee in 1913 and he figured prominently in the local branches of the NAACP and the National Negro Business League.

In the 1820s Georges grandfather Joseph Dereef had purchased a troublesome Negro girl named Betsey for $270 and started on the road to slave ownership. His father Richard E. Dereef inherited Josephs slaves and added to this number, becoming a wealthy free black Charleston wood factor. His sons were listed in the 1862 Free Negro Tax Book as factors as well, one of which had the title Doctor. Son John Dereef was listed in his fathers household in the 1860 federal census, and paid municipal taxes on real estate worth $3,700. Like white slaveholders, the Dereefs were forced to sell their slaves after the war.

Other free black slaveholders like the Dereefs were Robert Howard, one of the wealthiest free men of color in antebellum Charleston, and William Ellison, the wealthiest free Negro in South Carolina. Howard was a wood dealer like the Dereefs, paying city taxes on five slaves and real estate worth $33,900. Ellison was born into slavery in 1790, but by the time of the War Between the States owned more slaves than any other free Negro in the entire South except Louisiana. Ellison bought his freedom in 1816, set up a cotton ginning business, and made enough income to buy 63 slaves and ex-Governor Stephen D. Millers former home and plantation.

Free black slaveholding was not unusual in the antebellum North and South as they utilized the labor of slaves for profit, hiring them out as simple labor or trained artisans. Though much is made of the benevolence of black slaveholders toward their kin, author Larry Koger (No Chariot Let Down) dismisses this as improbable as most black slaveholders were mulattoes (83.1%) while nearly all their slaves were dark-skinned (90%). He asked, where was the kinship?

Koger underscores that there were black masters in every State where slavery existed (including the North), many black Americans of the antebellum period believed that slavery was a viable economic system. In Louisiana, Maryland, South Carolina and Virginia, free blacks owned more than 10,000 slaves, according to the Federal census of 1850.

Aristocrats of Color, The Black Elite, Willard C. Gatewood, University Press of Indiana, 1993
No Chariot Let Down, Charlestons Free People of Color, UNC Press, 1984


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A. Phillip Randolph, Black Socialist Leader:

Asa Phillip Randolph (1889-1979) was a black trade union leader and joined Norman Thomass American Socialist party in the 1930's. In February, 1936 the National Negro Congress was formed in Chicago which included over 800 representatives of various black organizations and this bodys executive board selected Randolph to be its president. Perhaps more a confirmed socialist than ideological communist, Randolph resigned the presidency in 1940 as the national convention delegates voted to support various communist programs and the influential role played by black communist members.

Randolph organized the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters union and received financial support from socialist organizations as well as large grants from the communist-dominated Garland Fund, which also financially underwrote the Communist Party USA and the NAACP, the latter backed the Brotherhood in its strikes and threat of strikes against American railroads. The Messenger was the official organ of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, and it has been described as a radical publication for Negroes looking toward their conversion to revolutionary radicalismIt is committed to the principles of the Soviet government of Russia and to the proposition of organizing Negroes for the class struggle."

In January 1941, Randolph planned a massive and disruptive march on Washington to "shake up America." FDR sent wife Eleanor and New York Mayor Fiorella LaGuardia to plead with him to call off the disruptive march. FDR appeased Randolph by issuing an executive order in June 1941 which declared racially discriminatory government policies illegal. In 1942, Randolph received the NAACP Spingarn Medal, as well as becoming an advisor to the communist-dominated Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). In 1947, Randolph saw an opportunity to foment racial unrest by forming the League for Nonviolent Civil Disobedience Against Military Segregation, and appointed friend and well-known communist Bayard Rustin to direct the organization. On June 29, 1948, Randolph co-authored a directive to President Truman from the Committee Against Jim Crow in Military Service and Training to institute social equality between the races, and that Unless this is done, Negro youth will have no alternative but to resist the law, the inevitable consequence of which would be to expose them to the un-American brutality so familiar during the last war.

In 1955, Randolph was elected to the AFL-CIO executive council, becoming vice-president of the federation in 1957. His racial agitation caused him to be censured by the executive council for making public complaints about the organization. At that time, an angry AFL-CIO President George Meany yelled at Randolph, "Who in the hell appointed you as guardian of the Negro members in America?" In August, 1963 Randolph planned the March for Jobs and Freedom in Washington, turning to Bayard Rustin for organization and coordination. He continued to employ the communist Rustin and appointed him as Director of the A. Philip Randolph Institute. Rustin later organized the massive public-disruption marches for M.L. King.

In recognition of his important work in furthering socialism in the United States and fomenting racial unrest, Randolph received the US Medal of Freedom, the country's highest civilian award, from Democrat President Lyndon Johnson in September 1964.

A. Philip Randolph, Labor Leader, Sally Hanley, 1989, Chelsea House
The Red Network by Elizabeth Dillings, 1934
Seeds of Change, The Life of Will Alexander, University of Chicago Press, 1962
Harry S. Truman Library, Official File


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Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. was the first black member of the New York City council, elected in 1941 from Harlem. After being ordained and succeeding his father to the pulpit in 1937, he viewed the church as a mighty weapon in winning social justice and equality for blacks.

Though denying that he was a communist, Powell claimed to be a radical and a fighter and disavowals of communist ideology did not keep him away from Communist party (CPUSA) rallies or lending support to the CPUSA campaign to get its perennial presidential candidate, Earl Browder out of federal prison. Browder's (and previous 1932 CPUSA presidential candidate William Z. Foster) running mate in 1936 and 1940 was Powells contemporary, black communist James W. Ford. At the February 1936 conference of the National Negro Congress, Ford declared that the NNC recorded progress made by communists who supported our program, and at this conference Powell was elected to key committee and council posts.

New York Mayor Fiorella LaGuardia viewed Powell as an agitator and opportunist seeking issues and scapegoats to attract attention to himself. Powell threatened Mayor LaGuardia, claiming that simmering racial issues in New York would lead to a repeat of Detroits 1942 race riots. The destructive 1943 New York City Harlem riot set off by Marjorie Polite at the Braddock Hotel was said to be a result of Powell's fomenting of racial unrest. On the first anniversary of Powells newspaper, The Peoples Voice, LaGuardia sent a note advising the agitator that No greater mistake can be made than to seek to make an issue where an issue does not exist. Powells paper regularly posted poetry by black communist Langston Hughes, and suspicion of Powells communist subversion led to him being placed under police surveillance.

Representing the Harlem district in Congress for some years, Powell endorsed and supported his successor in New York politics, Benjamin Davis, Jr. Davis was challenged for his council seat and demanded that the Communist Political Association use its power and influence to get him labor endorsements in addition to Powells nod of approval. Once Congressman Powell became chairman of the House Labor and Education Committee in the early 1960s, so-called civil rights initiatives and bills for social equality were promoted at his insistence, though Powell embarrassed the Democrat party for being under indictment for income tax evasion and had supported liberal Republican Dwight Eisenhower for president in 1956.

Asa Philip Randolph, Labor Leader, Sally Haley, Chelsea House, 1989
The Negro and the Communist Party, Wilson Record, Atheneum, 1971
Graham A. Barden, Conservative, Elmer Puryear, Campbell University Press, 1971
American Communism in Crisis, Joseph Starobin, University of California Press, 1972
The Napoleon of New York, LaGuardia, H. Paul Jeffers, Wiley & Sons, 2002

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