The Communist Party and Black Liberation

From inside cover: “This [study] outline was prepared on the basis of a series of lectures delivered by Elizabeth Lawson, Chairman, History Department, New York Workers School”. A 1954 article in the Negro History Bulletin recommended this book as a source for teaching Black history  in secondary schools. It is an important document for studying the role of the Communist Party in the fight for racial equality.

The New York Workers School was an ideological training center of the Communist Party USA (CPUSA). Elizabeth Lawson, the pseudonym of Elsa Block, was a longtime Communist Party member and important voice for the Party, although much remains unclear about her true identity. As a teacher at the Workers School in the 1930s, she helped develop African American history courses that were intended to appeal both to black workers and to combat prejudice among whites. She was an associate and mentor of Herbert Aptheker, the prominent Communist historian who challenged racist writings and led the way on the study of the anti-slavery struggle. Lawson arranged for Aptheker to lecture on black history in courses she had developed, introduced him to leading Black activists, and promoted his speaking engagements to Black audiences.

From 1933-37, Lawson, writing under the pen name Jim Mallory, briefly served as editor of The Southern Worker, a regional newspaper of the CPUSA. While the paper addressed issues of labor broadly, it reflected and spoke to the concerns of Black laborers specifically, with an intentional focus on racist Jim Crow laws that prevented access to jobs to Black workers.

 

book cover with title text

A Million Heart Throbs at Your Fingertips

Ross D. Brown was a poet, an inventor, and the founder and pastor of the Truth Seekers Temple in Chicago. According to a blog post on Brown, the book was first published in 1939, and revised a number of times.

red book cover with seven blocks of text

How the NAACP Began

Details the first months of the NAACP, recounting persons initially involved such as William English Walling, W.E.B. du Bois, among others. Mary White Ovington was an American suffragist, journalist, and co-founder of the NAACP. Originally published in 1914, five years after the 1909 founding of the organization, this is the seventh printing from 1945. On the back of the pamphlet is a list of the 1945 officers, showing Arthur Spingarn as President and Ms. Ovington was Treasurer. She continued to serve on the board until 1948 when she was forced to retire due to poor health. This printing was produced by the NAACP through the Mary Dunlop Maclean Memorial Fund.

page of typewritten text in two columns

From the Library of Langston Hughes

This copy of Meltzer’s work was owned by Langston Hughes. Meltzer and Hughes co-authored two books, A Pictorial History of the Negro in America (1956) and Black Magic: A Pictorial History of the African-American in the Performing Arts (1967).

book cover with title text

Soul Force

Two issues of the SCLC’s official journal, Soul Force.

The front cover features an image of a man with his hand on a wooden cross that is leaning sideways on the stairs of the United States Capitol building, which can be partially seen in the background. The man is standing with his back to the camera, and looking over his proper left shoulder towards the camera. There are seven (7) men and one (1) woman standing to the left and right of the man with his hand on the cross. The top third of the front cover has the masthead on the left that reads, [SOUL / force] and the date on the right that reads, [May / 1971].