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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Happy Birthday to the CPUSA!

The Communist Party of the USA (CPUSA) was formed on September 1, 1919.

The button above was from the People Before Profits: Gus Hall & Angela Davis CPUSA presidential ticket in 1980.

On its centennial in 2019 Davis wrote in a letter to mark the occasion “I am proud to have spent many of my formative years in this organization [the CPUSA] and to have benefited from its pioneering presence in and leadership of anti-racist and working-class campaigns.”

The party noted just a minor list of some its accomplishments in a centennial statement:

– Communists helped found and lead many of the most militant unions in U.S. history, especially in the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) in the 1930s and 1940s;

– Communists fought for labor and civil rights in historic campaigns against the frameups of Sacco and Vanzetti and the Scottsboro defendants. The Communist Party helped found the International Labor Defense organization which led these struggles;

– Communists championed African American equality by working with civil rights groups like the NAACP as well as through the National Negro Congress and Southern Negro Youth Congress in the 1930s and 1940s, and later through the Civil Rights Congress and the Council on African Affairs in the 1950s;

– Communists sacrificed valiantly in the fight against fascism before and during World War II; it is estimated that 3,000 communists fought for democracy and against Franco’s fascists in Spain, while an additional 15,000 communists served with honor in World War II;

– Communists defended the Bill of Rights with the ACLU of which our National Chair Elizabeth Gurley Flynn was a founding member. Together we fought against political repression. During the dark days of McCarthyism in the 1950s, sadly, Flynn was removed from the ACLU Board. Still the CP helped win freedom of speech for all Americans during this period resulting in numerous landmark Supreme Court decisions overturning Cold War repression.

– Communists helped lead the student free speech movement and the anti-Vietnam war movement in the 1960s and early 1970s;

– Communists led the campaign to free Angela Davis, Rev. Benjamin Chavis Jr., and all political prisoners, through the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (NAARPR) in the 1970s;

– Working with others to initiate local and national coalitions calling for comprehensive sanctions and freedom for Nelson Mandela, Communists helped spark the anti-apartheid divestment movement in the U.S. against the racist government of South Africa. Communists also helped found the National Anti-Imperialist Movement in Solidarity with South African Liberation (NAIMSAL) in the late 1970s and early 1980s;

– Communists also help lead the U.S. peace movement during the first years of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, through United for Peace and Justice and the National Youth and Student Peace Coalition in the 2000s;



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