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Black RevolutionaryWilliam Patterson and the Globalization of the African American Freedom Struggle$

Gerald Horne

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780252037924

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252037924.001.0001

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“I Am a Political Prisoner”

“I Am a Political Prisoner”

(p.141) 10 “I Am a Political Prisoner”
Black Revolutionary

Gerald Horne

University of Illinois Press

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter looks at Patterson's imprisonment in Danbury, Connecticut. He estimated that “30 percent of the prison population is Negro” in Danbury, and they, along with those who were Jewish, were segregated. What particularly agitated him was the overrepresentation of Negroes behind bars. The plight of his fellow inmates presented Patterson with an immediate dilemma. The high-court ruling had yet to trickle down to this federal facility, so Jim Crow reigned. If he spoke out, “especially against segregation,” then that “would surely be un-American-subversive. I am not afraid to speak out,” he assured, “but I don't seek further victimization.” During his time of imprisonment, his mail was censored, then he was barred from writing anyone other than his spouse and his daughter. He was also subjected to “quarantine,” shielded from others, though not in solitary confinement. This meant no visitors and seven letters per week.

Keywords:   prison population, prison segregation, high-court ruling, Jim Crow

So spoke William Patterson in December 1954, as he wasted away behinds bars in the federal prison set amidst the undulating hills of Danbury, Connecticut.1

He was now well into his sixties, an age when many of his peers were contemplating a well-earned retirement. But Patterson remained in the trenches taking blows—and administering a few—though, in retrospect, his punishing imprisonment had a certain inevitability.

After all, he had reputedly besmirched the reputation of Washington while in Paris, raising difficult matters of Jim Crow as embedded in cases too numerous to mention from all parts of the land: McGee, Martinsville, Ingram, Trenton, Wells—the list was lengthy. While domestic elites were busily reassuring themselves that retreating on Jim Crow would not mean an advance for Communists—“no more than 1,400 Negroes ever belonged to the Communist Party at one time,” claimed Time magazine in 1953—the ebony-hued Patterson stood tall globally as a symbol of the fact that a self-proclaimed Black Revolutionary could still win support in the midst of a Red Scare.2 The Afro-American, in a powerful editorial, claimed that it was Jim Crow that was “creating Communists.” The “Reds want tomorrow TODAY,” it was emphasized, “and are willing to smash the clock to make time move faster.”3

Washington was in a bind, forced by global pressure to retreat on Jim Crow so that human-rights violations in Moscow could be better argued, but fretting that this would present further opportunity for Moscow’s domestic ally, the Communists. Just after the CRC was compelled to liquidate in early 1956, noted at a cabinet meeting at the White House was the idea that the CP was about to “concentrate” on the citadel of Jim Crow—including Alabama, South Carolina, and Mississippi. Fortunately, it was said, the “leader of NAACP” was not a Red, though this “cannot” be said “of all its locals.” A supposed tie between the NAACP and CP only served to “aggravate” things.4 In a “Memorandum for the President” presented near that same time, FBI director J. Edgar Hoover told the cabinet about (p.142) “racial tensions in civil rights,” that “extremist groups and individuals, including the Communists, are becoming bolder and more active,” and that “threats of violence and bloodshed have been made publicly.” As such, “The situation is serious enough to warrant Cabinet consideration.”5

When the CP argued in mid-1955 that U.S. imperialism was facing an interlinked crisis implicating the Negro Question—a “crisis of [a] national minority” and a “crisis in the realm of political integrity”—they touched on an exceedingly sensitive point.6 Imprisoning Patterson was a signal that tomorrow would arrive tomorrow, and those who argued otherwise were due for a rude awakening.

It was ironic that Patterson, who had strived tirelessly to explode the innards of Jim Crow, was locked away in the same year that the high court mandated that this odious system was illegal. Ironic, yes, but also logical in that with a Red Scare ascendant, it was virtually inexorable that those political outcasts who had fought an often lonely battle would now be sidelined, as domestic elites—pressed by international public opinion generated by Patterson in the first place—would rush to claim credit for a victory that was forced upon them.

Saunders Redding, a Negro writer who was to benefit enormously from the changed circumstance brought by desegregation, received a glimpse of how international public opinion viewed this new circumstance when he jetted into India on a mission for Washington. Initially, he was struck by the abhorrence of Senator Joseph McCarthy, then a rising star in his homeland. The Wisconsinite was an object of “scorn,” he said, sounding amazed, propelled by the fact that “among Indian intellectuals with whom I had official association, there were those who admitted—even boasted, I thought—that organized Communist cells” were almost ubiquitous. Thus, he was asked, “Why has your government denied a passport to Paul Robeson?” He was hounded not only by class warriors but combatants on the racial front as well, since “many Indians were color conscious to a degree completely unimaginable even to American Negroes. … I was asked more than once whether the Negro community of America would join with the colored peoples of the world in a war against the white man.” The Indians he encountered were outraged with “America’s race prejudice. It was a shadow in which I moved.” Most of all, he carped, “They were acquainted with and fully convinced of the frightful truth of the indictments brought against the American society by such an extremist Red publication as We Charge Genocide.” Thus, like biblical verses, “lynching and riot statistics they knew by heart.” Patterson’s leading cases—McGee, Trenton, Martinsville—were grist for this mill, as well as the Peekskill incident. Redding’s attempt to rescue the tarnished image of Uncle Sam was thwarted almost singlehandedly by Patterson.7

Patterson’s advocacy on behalf of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg also proved upsetting to some. It was on June 19, 1953, when the future fervent anticommunist Ronald Radosh found himself at Union Square in Manhattan with “some ten or twelve thousand others,” a remarkable turnout given that the issue at hand was (p.143) the fate of two accused Soviet spies. “We stood with tears in our eyes” as the clock ticked down marking their executions. “Finally,” said Radosh, “Howard Fast appeared to tell us that the unspeakable was occurring.” The “photo of the event shows Fast at the sound truck’s platform with William Patterson” as “singers started chanting the old hymn of slavery in Egypt land ‘Let My People Go.’” With Patterson in the lead, “We marched with the crowd toward the Lower East Side, the last home of the Rosenbergs before they were sent to prison. Soon the police came on horseback, forcing us to back [off] and making us disperse.”8

Subsequently, Patterson acknowledged that he and the CRC “came in immediately with the arrest” of the besieged duo and “played an active part in the later stages” of the case as well. At his initiative, the CRC “organized a large demonstration in Ossining,” at Sing Sing where they were jailed, with about one thousand persons amassing. “I took two trips to Ossining,” he said, and conferred “on both occasions with the Warden. … I went to the local press and pictures were taken of myself and published by the local press.” Upon arriving at this hamlet due north of New York City, he was “met by a cordon of city and state police at the [train] station and … instructed by the chief of police that a march up the hill to a spot about a mile or a mile and a half from the gates … would be permitted.” They were allowed to be “vocal” at the train station, “not in front of [the] prison, but they could be escorted with flowers to [the] gates of [the] prison.” This delegation was “restricted to five individuals,” which included Patterson, Howard Fast, and the actor Karen Morley. Like others, Patterson found the entire prosecution to be questionable, since “the atomic bomb could not be made a secret.”9

Over eight hundred accompanied Patterson and Fast to Sing Sing, a site dangerously close to Peekskill, with fears erupting of an outcome akin to what had befallen the left in 1949. Patterson conferred repeatedly with the police, as the hearty band stood on a little hillock, huddled together in a pouring rain. Then Patterson, already renowned for his way with words, began to sing, his voice low and deep, the abolitionist anthem “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” followed by an inspired follower reciting the Lord’s Prayer—none of which spared the Rosenbergs from a state-administered execution.10

His presence in Manhattan on that deadly day reflected how the Rosenbergs’ case had been added to his bulging portfolio. Saving their lives, he announced in Los Angeles in late 1952, was “the number one task before progressive America.”11 The Los Angeles leader of the CRC, David Brown, recalled—while testifying against his organization—the spring of 1953, when Patterson “got very excited” and told him forcefully, “They are not going to die. We are not going to let them die because I will not let them die as leader of my organization. I won’t let this happen.” Why the urgency? Patterson, it was recounted, remarked, “If they get away with this kind of business we may see another Warsaw here.” Relating this story to his FBI handler, Brown noted chillingly that in Warsaw, “these people were executed,” referring to those who were Jewish and/or Communists who (p.144) were murdered during the war. “That man spoke with conviction,” Brown said of Patterson. “I am a Jew, and I began to shiver all over … it shook me up badly.” But, almost in a replay of Warsaw, the FBI man coldly told Brown, “‘Well, you know what he is, you know what happens to his kind.’ I said, ‘What do you mean his kind?’” The response was, “‘When his kind get up on top they get uppity. If you keep them down like they keep them down in the South, you will have no trouble, but once they get up to this point where they get on top of something, there is no keeping them down. We will take care of the kind like him.’”12

This agent was reflecting the unease that erupted as the Red Scare met a nascent and rising movement to uplift the downtrodden Negro. These two trends converged neatly in the person of Patterson, causing ever more fury to be directed toward him. Thus, like a slow-motion film dissolve, it was dawning on Patterson that as the Black moved to a form of freedom, the Red was assuming an enhanced polecat status. It was in May 1955 that Patterson dolefully informed the Subversive Activities Control Board (SACB) that “the leadership of the NAACP had been quite influenced by the wild Communist hysteria in this country,” a sentiment that summed up neatly his own dilemma. Sounding surprised, Patterson found the “Negro press of America” to be “strangely silent” about this iconic case that was the Rosenbergs, as if speaking out might jeopardize concessions already in the pipeline. “Substitute the word ‘spy’ for the word ‘rapist’” and “the Rosenbergs MIGHT AS WELL BE BLACK,” he stressed, but few were paying attention as the material reality of the Negro was changing as he spoke.13

Patterson, who had been present in Germany when the seeds of the Holocaust were planted, was haunted by the possibility of this horrid phenomenon migrating across the Atlantic—even in micro—and frequently evoked it during his CRC tenure. Thus, said Patterson, we “wished to show the similarity of Willie McGee and the treatment of Jewish nationals in Germany under the Hitler regime,” so he supervised the distribution of leaflets by the thousands, asserting, “Nazi murderers of American GIs are being freed but the Federal Government allows Virginia to execute the innocent Martinsville Seven.”14

But Patterson’s words, which once had been greeted with effervescent enthusiasm, were now being ignored by many. Undaunted, seeking to capitalize on what may have been the CRC’s signal moment, Patterson was preparing a sequel of the “Genocide” petition, but as he acknowledged in mid-1953, “keeping all these projects moving is a very difficult thing and having such cases as Pittsburgh and the McCarran [cases] at the same time … presents a truly formidable job”—which was particularly the case when staff were being recruited as FBI informants or fleeing hither and yon.15

After returning from Europe and having his passport revoked,16 Patterson was spending more and more time campaigning for various prisoners, as if he were gathering information for his own incarceration. Among these was the Communist leader Steve Nelson, jailed in Pittsburgh. Again, he found that his and the (p.145) CRC’s time was better spent seeking to mobilize opinion abroad, particularly as concessions to the Negro leadership were disintegrating their remaining prop of support at home. “There is no meeting taking place in Europe today,” he assured Nelson, “where your name and that of the Rosenbergs does not appear prominently.”17 He did not think that “the American scene in relation to the Pittsburgh fight can be characterized by indifference,” though it was “true that the foreign scene reflects much greater maturity and activity and educational program than our own.”18

The artful phrasing could not obscure the disconcerting reality that the United States was to the right of the international community and would become more so. As African Americans slowly came to enjoy basic rights, the scenario would alter to a degree, but the gap was to remain and continue to fester, for their ascension could not compensate for the decline of the organized left of which their empowerment was an unfortunate complement. Thus it was “French friends” who were “preparing a document” on “American violations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights” that implicated Nelson’s case,19 just as the CRC sent a letter to a Pan-American gathering in 1954 “detailing the violation of civil liberties in the United States.”20

A similar approach was taken with regard to his own case, though it did not prevent Patterson from winding up in Danbury on a rolling series of ninety-day sentences for contempt of court because of his refusal to turn over various donor and membership lists to the U.S. authorities. “I might be jailed for life,” he told the historian J. A. Rogers, “for my refusal to betray my people.”21 “For the second time within six months,” said the CP leader William Z. Foster in early December 1954, “Patterson has been sent to prison for 90 days on precisely the same charge.” Moreover, “at the time of his two imprisonments Patterson was working to bring ‘Genocide’ up to date. Early in the current year Patterson also presented to the delegates to the recent Inter-American conference at Caracas, Venezuela, a document exposing the deterioration of civil and human rights in the United States entitled ‘Six Years Retrogression toward a Police State.’”22

These actions did not endear Patterson to U.S. authorities, which sheds light on why in the spring of 1954 he had been asked to produce CRC records containing names and addresses of donors—a request that he chose not to observe, which led to the original ninety-day sentence for civil contempt of court, then again and again until finally in early 1955 he was released after the case had been fought up the federal ladder to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled two to one in his favor.23

James Ford, still active in the CP, was there in 1954 as the grand jury convened to handle Patterson’s fate. Patterson arrived and strode over to the gallery where Ford was sitting with other friends and comrades and murmured that it was a “hangman’s jury” in this small room. Patterson’s attorney, Milton Friedman, confronted his young counterpart from the government, who spoke haltingly, (p.146) betraying his inexperience—but given the times, he did not have to be that persuasive to convince these jurors, for as the saying went years later, grand jurors would indict a ham sandwich if prompted by prosecutors. Patterson also spoke on his own behalf, providing what Ford termed a “magnificent defense” of himself, though the judge’s swaying head and palpitating Adam’s apple seemed to suggest otherwise. CRC records were at issue, and the judge was unconvinced by Patterson’s remarks, asserting, “I don’t believe the witness has physical possession of the records sought but he controls them wherever they are.”24 Ford denounced the “vengeful persecution” of his comrade, calling it “the most astounding abuse of civil liberties in the history of the republic.”25

What Ford witnessed was only one aspect of Patterson’s mounting difficulties. For simultaneously, while imprisoned for failure to produce CRC records, he was summoned before the Subversive Activities Control Board—a federal body meant to extirpate radical influence—on the ground that the CRC was ultimately an alien agent of Moscow. Adroitly, Patterson—then detained—sought to be transferred from detention to the hearing so he could perform as counsel and thus extend his ability to escape from a cramped prison cell. His attorney complained that her client was “subjected to an endless series of investigations” and “was being dragged into this court, before that proceeding or this proceeding,” in a seemingly endless round-robin of procedures.26 Part of the hearing that Ford witnessed—and, to a degree, the SACB hearing as well—was to ensnare Patterson in a perjury trap, grilling him until a contradiction in his words was unearthed, thus leading to yet another indictment in case the underlying alleged “crime” of not producing records did not lead to his jailing.

David Brown, thought to be a CRC leader in good standing but actually an informant for the FBI, recalled speaking to Patterson at a CRC conference in St. Louis in June 1954. “I went up to Mr. Patterson and shook hands with him,” he testified. “I said, ‘Here’s luck to you. I know you are on your way to jail.’ He looked at me and he held my hand and held it very strongly, and he said, ‘I don’t mind going to jail. First of all, it would be the first vacation I will have had for a long time. Secondly, more important than going to jail, it is the principle for which we are all fighting by refusing to turn informer.’” Brown, the informant, apparently did not blanch at the invocation of this despised status, and Patterson little knew that the man he was addressing was actually conspiring actively against him.27

In effect, as Patterson recounted later, “I was convicted of perjury even though not charged with it. When the court doubted my word it automatically charged me with perjury since it acted upon the doubt and against me. Pure speculation with no hearing, no attempt at confirmation.”

Thus, as the paradigmatic case of Brown v. Board of Education, sounding the death knell for Jim Crow, was still being digested, Patterson found himself in Connecticut on a forced vacation. “This is beautiful country,” thought Patterson. “We are in the midst of rolling hills.” But the “repetitious” monotony seemed to (p.147) be designed to make him daft, which led him to devise foiling means.28 “There is so much reading I want to do,” he said, seeking to put a positive spin on an unfortunate setback. “This is a school if one is willing to learn,” he said, “only then can one teach.”29 “I watch the [New York] Times very carefully,” he said, which left much to ponder.30 At one juncture he was rereading Victor Hugo and emerging as impressed as he had been years ago; it “ought to be compulsory reading for some of the people who run this kind of institution.”31 Since he estimated that “30 percent of the prison population is Negro” in Danbury, he had much work to do.32 “The majority here are under 30,” and “especially the Negroes [are] mere kids just out of the army with no fundamental grasp of anything.”33 As for the “white lads” he met, they too were “openly expressing their hopelessness—‘I am no good’ … complete defeatism.”34

Patterson was not the only one unimpressed by this prison. His friend J. A. Rogers, the noted historian and columnist, said that it “sounds like one of those Communist slave camps we read about.” Citing the former congressman, the conservative Parnell Thomas, who found himself incarcerated there, it was observed that this prison was “squalid and filthy,” while the food was “awful,” meaning that “four out of five prisoners … suffered from malnutrition.” Medical facilities were “deplorable.” About “30 percent of the prisoners were Negroes around 25 years of age,” and they, along with those who were Jewish, were segregated. It was all, said Rogers, “a choice morsel for Pravda,” the Soviet periodical.35

The plight of his fellow inmates presented Patterson with an immediate dilemma. The high-court ruling had yet to trickle down to this federal facility, so Jim Crow reigned. If he spoke out, “especially against segregation,” then that “would surely be un-American-subversive. I am not afraid to speak out,” he assured, “but I don’t seek further victimization.” Then there was the atmospheric pallor of anticommunism. One inmate started a “tirade” against Communists. “I asked what they were,” and “he said he didn’t know but they all ought to leave the country,” though Patterson apparently was restrained from administering a rebuff. “[I] hope you can learn [tolerance] to add to the intolerance one needs and patience to balance your impatience,” he informed his spouse by way of reminding himself. “The experience is good if you come in strong but God help the mentally weak.” Later he bumped into the militant anticommunist, who reiterated his “hatred” for Reds and added, “If he were on the street and a man said he was one, he would shoot him on the spot. I suppose he would.”36

“I walk around the cell block for exercise,” said the elderly Patterson, conscious that “one can easily eat more than can be worked off here.”37 “I take a brisk walk around the cell block ten times each morning,”38 he said shortly thereafter, increasing his pace. “I’m rounding into some kind of shape,” he said days later. “Every day I do my ups and downs. Some of the belly is disappearing. Green stuff is plentiful on the table,” thus, “physically, I feel splendid.”39 “This place is conducive to contemplation [and] meditative examination and analysis that action in the (p.148) ordinary world does not provide ordinarily,” he said of imprisonment. “One can seek and find the road to objectivity here.”40 Thus, he spoke frequently of the news of the day, adding, “I write of these things because they ease my mind.”41

Stretching his muscles could not ease the pain of what he was enduring. His mail was censored,42 then he was barred from writing anyone other than his spouse and his daughter.43 For a while he was subjected to “quarantine,” shielded from others, though not in solitary confinement, which would have been maddening. This meant no visitors and seven letters per week. He feared that “if I continue to agitate,” he would be beaten physically by fellow prisoners, egged on by the authorities, which is what befell his fellow Communist, Bob Thompson. What particularly agitated him was the overrepresentation of Negroes behind bars. “With 40 percent of us in a place like this and every similar institution recording like percentages, it [is] time the Negro press began systematically to raise the question of a conscious policy to brand our youth as petty criminals.” The possession of illegal drugs was a central reason for this mass incarceration, which, said Patterson, “indicates that the sale of dope in the ghettoes is smiled [on] rather than frowned upon.” But it was hard to organize behind bars, which was restraining; he had “not heard one sustained conversation dealing with a serious national or international problem. Talking seriously is severely frowned upon.”44 Just in case, Patterson was placed “where I would have the least contact with other people and was not to be allowed to indoctrinate others,” so he was compelled to toil in “an outside job—gardening. That’s not too bad.”45

There should have been a lot to discuss. Ironically, the year of his incarceration—1954—was the pivotal year that Jim Crow was declared to be verboten by the high court. “How they understand the weakness of their own position. How it sticks out on the school issue.” While others were celebrating, Patterson opined that “‘free’ is not to include blacks for some years to come.” He wondered why Washington tolerated Jim Crow in federal prisons, where it enjoyed “jurisdiction,” while railing against Jim Crow in local school systems, where its remit did not reach as easily: “The hypocrisy stands out like an A bomb cloud and is as poisonous.”46 He realized instinctively that the high-court decision “will bring concessions to some Negroes, they must try to neutralize the Negro people, they cannot afford to let Negro thought become too greatly concerned with the freedom struggles of other colored people. That is one of the basic reasons for the segregation decision”—“prevent any discussion in broad Negro circles of the merger of our struggle with those of others.” Yes, he offered, these were “concessions in the face of the revolts of the colonial peoples.”47 According to Patterson, “lots of people realize that it was foreign comment which played a great part in the segregation cases.”48 By underlining words like these produced by Patterson’s comrades, J. Edgar Hoover underscored their significance.49

Writing behind bars, Patterson had few illusions about the increased tolerance among U.S. rulers.50 It was as if great events were occurring, and an imprisoned (p.149) Patterson was left simply to comment on their significance rather than intervene forcefully as before.51 Thus, he engaged the profound meeting of recently liberated mostly African and Asian nations at Bandung, Indonesia, in 1955. He hailed their shunning of South Africa and Australia as a “blow to racism” and urged the seating of “black American observers” as a “matter of vital concern,” since “Negro Cadillac leadership will have to take cognizance of some of the happenings in the East, even though they continue their behind-kissing apologies for the genocidal policies of this government.”52

Yet the new era inaugurated by the onset of desegregation paradoxically was to bring frustration to Patterson in the form of his awareness of the larger issues at play—“that the Negro press cannot see this period clearly while not amazing is at least very disheartening.”53 The “Negro press has apparently not reacted to the [anti-]subversive legislation,” he said at one point, “yet no segment of America is more adversely affected by this campaign.”54

It was not only the Negro press that he saw as failing to live up to its historic obligations. “What then is the difference between a man like Thurgood [Marshall] and Paul [Robeson]?” he asked. “Thurgood works with the enemies of the people,” he stressed. “Paul works against them. The interests of the two cannot be reconciled. Thurgood compromises where his people are concerned with those who, when their interests are at stake, fight. His form of compromise jeopardizes the interests of his people,” thus “Thurgood consciously or unconsciously works for the destruction of our constitutional form of government.”55

It was just as well that Patterson had excoriated NAACP leaders, as they had no interest in aligning with him in any case and were equally dismissive of him besides. Still, such acerbic remarks may have hampered the ability of those who rallied to Patterson’s side to broaden the coalition in his defense. Such considerations did not seem to hinder those who turned up in the thousands at a jam-packed Chicago’s Tabernacle Baptist church where his praises were sung, despite a last-minute cancellation at the Civic Opera House downtown, which necessitated scrambling to the former venue.56 Nor did this concern seem to bother the hundreds who crowded into the Renaissance Casino in Harlem in support of his cause. There Robeson spoke warmly of his longtime friend who “guided” him in his early days, while the increasingly popular actor Beah Richards provided poetry.57

These two events were part of a larger campaign by the CRC to free its leader. By mid-February 1955, a freed Patterson reported on his own case to conferees, elaborating on the “mass campaign” that led to his presence in Manhattan on this wintry day. He received “1,500 greeting cards in jail,” while the U.S. attorney general, Herbert Brownell, “must have received a like number.” “There were 9 mass meetings,” while “some chapters got out their own leaflets and petitions.” Articles about his plight appeared “in the left and Negro press,” all of which necessitated that CRC staff be “expanded”—and yet the steep price was worth it, since otherwise it was conceivable that “prison for life” would have been his destiny.58

(p.150) Patterson swallowed his own medicine, in other words, and campaigned inside and outside the courtroom for his own freedom—and this bore fruit. Yet his departure from Danbury brought no end to his misery. As the gates of prison were closing behind him, opening up before him was a maelstrom of misery, for the CRC was being plunged into a compelled liquidation, while the CP was undergoing a bout of internal wrangling that dwarfed that which had led to Browder’s ouster about a decade earlier. Indeed, Patterson’s life was entering the denouement, the final act of a three-act play: from birth to 1927 was the first; from 1927 to 1954 was the high watermark; and then from that fateful year to his passing in 1980 was a time of trial. During the second act, he emerged as an important Negro leader fighting globally and domestically against Jim Crow, but during the final act, Jim Crow retreated. In return—almost like a down payment for this concession—he was compelled to fight ostracism and increased anticommunist repression. This was not good news for Patterson, but in the long term, it was not necessarily in the best interests of U.S. Negroes either, for as they had a form of normalized citizenship thrust upon them, they were deprived simultaneously of their most battle-tested and internationally connected leaders—Patterson and Robeson—which ill prepared them to confront the complex challenges provided by an increasingly globalized world.

Some Communists sought to make the best of a bad situation by arguing that the new departure brought by the Montgomery bus boycott of 1955 meant that organizations like the CRC—which had been fighting an often lonely battle—were not as necessary. This struck James Ford as little more than piffle. “I simply have not had the courage to write you in recent years,” he told his comrade, Ferdinand Smith, a Communist leader of the National Maritime Union [NMU] who had been forced by the U.S. authorities to return to his birthplace of Jamaica, “because of the state of affairs in this country (my organization)”—meaning the CP—“on which my influence was absolutely nil,” was floundering. Ford complained that he had little clout to reverse changes he viewed as troubling. “We are liquidating and liquidating: African Council gone, CRC on way out, in the name of breadth,” was his view in late 1955. As he saw it, “A lot of groundwork was laid in the thirties in trade unions among Negroes,” but this was now being frittered away, as left “strength” was “sadly underestimated.” Thus, “In a NMU convention recently a Negro delegate was beaten by [right-wing] thugs as he spoke at the mike”—“and not a word from our friends. Negro left leaders persecuted and imprisoned and very little done,” all “in the name of breadth,” or the idea that building broad coalitions precluded sharp focus on the difficulties of besieged Reds. The jailing and then deportation of the Communist leader Claudia Jones was “one grand scandal,” he said. “Robeson’s passport case, simply a scandal! Influence of bureaucracy and white chauvinism simply astounding.” The murder of the Negro youth Emmett Till in Mississippi had created a firestorm of protest worldwide—made to order for Patterson and CRC—but, said Ford, “you would be ashamed to know that we (p.151) are way behind developments” in this charged case. This lag was occurring “despite Geneva,” which seemed to augur détente between Washington and Moscow and “most of all Bandung,” trends that ordinarily Patterson would have been able to play upon adeptly like an expertly tuned piano. Sadly, he concluded, “the Negro Question is being neglected.”59

Patterson sought to turn a sow’s ear into silk by claiming that Jones’s deportation meant that she could now act as an external agent and attack Jim Crow from abroad—which turned out to be accurate but did little to dissuade Ford’s pessimism.60

There was some truth to what Ford said, but overall he seemed blind to the increased repression then being visited upon his comrades—Patterson and his CRC not least—which dramatically circumscribed the options available to the radical left: for 1956 was also the year in which an elevated crusade against the CP was launched by the FBI.61

Just before this momentous turn, the FBI reviewed Patterson’s file “for the purpose of determining whether he is of such professed Chinese Communist sympathy that he would or could present a threat to the United States Government in the event of hostilities with Communist China.” Particular note was taken of Patterson providing copies of the genocide book to a high-level Chinese official for distribution to U.S. prisoners of war in Korea.62 In a 228-page FBI report, again it was his foray abroad that seemed to enrage.63 This focus on territory beyond U.S. jurisdiction led to extensive—and “secret”—monitoring of Patterson’s energetic campaign to restore Robeson’s passport, which, the FBI believed, involved “the idea of smuggling Paul Robeson out of the U.S. for propaganda purposes. The plan was for Robeson to suddenly give a concert or make a speech in some foreign capital or large city in order to cause a sensation.”64 The FBI snared a letter from Patterson to the East Berlin office of the Women’s International Democratic Federation [WIDF] requesting they issue an invitation for Robeson to visit. Here Patterson was aghast in noting that the State Department mandated that Robeson “not leave the continental confines of the United States, even to go to any territories such as Alaska or Hawaii, or to go to those countries which do not require passport or visa for entry,” on the premise that the actor’s “defense of the independence fight of the South[ern] African nations interfered with government policy.”65

So briefed, J. Edgar Hoover in a “personal and confidential” memo informed one of President Eisenhower’s top aides about “propaganda concerning the case of [Rosa Lee] Ingram and her sons” generated by the WIDF; the attorney general, the State Department, and the Central Intelligence Agency were advised of the danger of allowing travel by radicals.66

Of course, when the NAACP leader Clarence Mitchell objected to the nomination of the former congressman—and Klan applicant—John Wood by Eisenhower to serve in the highest echelon of the Subversive Activities Control Board (whose (p.152) mandate was to monitor relentlessly those like Patterson), there was hardly a murmur of concern.67

There was more involved politically, in short, than just the snatching of Patterson’s correspondence. This was part of a larger scheme of isolating and debilitating the radicals, providing a wide berth to the Dixiecrats and obliging the Negro centrists not to complain too loudly, lest their vaunted concessions be halted. Patterson was incensed when the increasingly popular glossy magazine of John H. Johnson, an acquaintance from Chicago, glorified an FBI agent who infiltrated the CRC successfully.68 This was symptomatic of the demonizing of the Reds to the point where disrupting the CRC and Patterson’s political activity was viewed widely as being tantamount to patriotism.

Thus, a number of U.S. nationals made a good living infiltrating the CRC on behalf of the FBI.69 Barbara Hartle was not alone in recruiting members to the CRC and then turning over their names to the authorities, which was a disincentive for any to be so bold as to join the ranks of the organized left.70 Bereniece Baldwin of Detroit—who joined the CP in 1943, then ostensibly departed in 1952 (and was part of the CRC from 1948 to 1952)—acted similarly.71

By April 1955, Patterson had been freed from incarceration. Undaunted, he returned to the SACB hearing as a counsel, objecting vigorously at one point as a woman identified as Willie McGee’s widow testified. After Patterson’s words increased in velocity and intensity, opposing counsel referred to him contemptuously as a “creature,” and an insulted Patterson replied, “I am going to warn you. … you should respect my dignity. I am sitting here as a human being,” a fact that he felt needed emphasis in a nation scarred by apartheid.72

This tumultuous encounter was capped by Patterson’s own testimony, where he said cautiously, “I am a graduate of a college in Eastern Europe … my mother told me that I was born in San Francisco” on “August 27, 1891.” Yes, he said, he was elected to lead the CRC in April 1948 at a board meeting in Philadelphia, and under his leadership, chapters increased from nineteen to forty-two “or more” by 1952. And, yes, a measure of his effectiveness was revealed when he told how he was “run out of the city of Birmingham and by the officials of the City of Atlanta.” Noting a frightening episode that left him seemingly unaffected, he remarked casually, “I had been threatened with lynching.” Observing how his CRC organizing required stealth and nerves of steel, he noted that while toiling in Miami, New Orleans, and North Carolina, “I was very careful to come into those cities without any fanfare or notice and tried to meet with people secretly,” since “the danger of Negroes being lynched was very great.” After all, “terror against [the CRC] in Miami came almost instantaneously with the establishment of the chapter,” and “in the Carolinas it was more difficult.” The pressure meant that by 1951 the CRC board was not functioning, for it had taken note of what befell the board of the Joint Antifascist Refugee Committee—who were imprisoned. Strikingly, local (p.153) boards in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Oakland did not dissolve—but New Jersey’s did.

Patterson’s testimony incidentally revealed his effectiveness and why some sought the CRC’s liquidation. When working to free jailed CP leaders, it was not unusual for Patterson to meet with high-level officials at the Justice Department in Washington. The counsel he secured for the CP leader John Gates earlier had represented the newspaper of Joseph Pulitzer, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch; it was also “Senator [Thomas] Hennings’ firm in St. Louis.” When campaigning for Steve Nelson, he recollected, “I spoke with the editorial board of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.” For Smith Act defendants in this grimy steel town, “I went to the attorneys of the Mellon firm” to seek assistance. Though his appeals to high-powered law firms were not always successful, that he could meet with them was no less arresting. The same could be said of his meeting with the governor of New Jersey at the height of the struggle to free the Trenton Six.

Yet the overriding atmosphere of fear was hard to overcome. Patterson was stunned when an “extremely vital event had taken place in Madison, Wisconsin, where the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence were handed out to people for them to sign and … they refused to sign saying that it was Communistic and that they were afraid to sign it.”

Patterson’s testimony, presented just before the compelled liquidation of the CRC, was similarly informative about why this eventuality occurred. The CRC vigorously defended the Communist leader Claude Lightfoot, since his case meant that “for the first time in the history of our country, membership in a political party with the right of the American people to select a party of their own choice”—guaranteed under the First Amendment ambit of the right to free association—was being challenged. Likewise, the CRC defended the Communist leader Junius Scales, whose prosecution raised similar issues; but unlike the Chicago-based Lightfoot, this case arose in North Carolina and thus “was bound to have a great effect upon the fight for Negro rights.”73

Similarly illuminating was the fact that when Patterson wrapped up his testimony before the SACB in July 1955, the government’s response was dismissive. “After seeing and hearing him on the witness stand,” said counsel Posey Kime, “and reading some of the pleadings made in his behalf, and some of his writings, I do not believe anyone, except possibly a confirmed Communist, could put any credence in anything he said.” He was, it was asserted, a “deliberate prevaricator, if not a perjurer”—as yet another series of criminal charges stared Patterson in the face.74

An indicator of the CRC’s effectiveness at a time when it was in retreat was manifested in Los Angeles. There were three strong chapters there, and the overall leader was actually paid a considerable sixty-two dollars a week by the organization. However, the FBI paid him more than four times as much.75 Indeed, perhaps (p.154) the climax of these hearings occurred when David Brown, a CRC leader in the City of Angels virtually to the date of his testimony in May 1955, revealed himself as a stool pigeon. He too recruited members to the ranks and then turned over their names to the authorities. All told, he provided the FBI with two thousand names and addresses. Born in Kiev, he arrived in the United States in 1914 and before long was a leader of the left, joining the CP in 1931 and staying until 1948, helping to forge CRC chapters in Echo Park, Hollywood, and East Hollywood. He testified that his frequent conversations with Patterson caused him to regret his betrayal and admit that “all of my reports to [the FBI] contained both false and true statements and there was a great deal of falsity in most of the reports that I submitted.” He confessed that “throughout my entire association with the FBI, I had periodic fits of remorse and depression. After a while I succeeded in burying these emotions and driving them away”—but that did not prevent an unsuccessful suicide attempt on his part.76 Even his appalled spouse railed against his “shocking betrayal” targeting Patterson, the CRC, “my children, myself, and countless others.”77

Brown’s “betrayal” was a virtual deathblow for the CRC. Los Angeles may have had the strongest unit within the CRC, with access to an astonishing sixty attorneys to handle various cases.78 He also recruited avidly on behalf of the Rosenberg Defense Committee—then too turned over their names to the FBI.79

Patterson was outraged when it was revealed that in his dealings with the FBI, the “rendezvous was for a period in the Mormon Church” where Brown’s handler was “an active member.” Apparently, Brown “had a key to the front and rear door,” as this venerable institution was implicated in political destabilization.80

Once it became evident that the authorities would investigate the CRC relentlessly, a decision had to be made: Was it worth it to stay in business with the prime objective not being to defend victims of racist and political repression but, more so, to defend oneself? When the firehouse itself is constantly ablaze, an agonizing reappraisal is in order. A year before liquidation, in late February 1955, it was reported breathlessly that the CRC was tied to fraud. It had “collected” a small fortune and “diverted much of it,” it was said at a public hearing in Manhattan that was marked by “anger and comedy”—and “long speeches.” The august chambers of the Senate of the State of New York was the scene when Patterson angrily handed to Senator Edward Larkin a mimeographed statement that bristled with denunciations. The hearing was delayed when Patterson and then Robeson refused to take the witness stand unless their attorney, Milton H. Friedman, was permitted to sit alongside them. The senator insisted that the attorney remain at the counsel table, about twenty feet away, but said that his clients could consult with him. Irksomely, Patterson informed the lawmakers—to their dismay—that CRC had nineteen chapters in 1948 and “thirty-four or more” at that moment when repression had hit a new high. When asked about his fund-raising for CRC, an annoyed Robeson retorted, “I sing for Hadassah (p.155) and the Sons of Israel and any number of worthwhile causes and no one asks me how much money they raise.”81

But Robeson and Patterson were swimming against a mighty tide. The Pittsburgh Courier, apparently still upset with Patterson, had to be warned by his attorney to retract a “defamatory attack” on his client that suggested that the CRC leader “had been guilty of dishonesty and had appropriated to his personal use monies collected for [CRC]”82

The legislators were not the only ones dissatisfied with this testiness—as far afield as his old hometown of San Francisco, Patterson’s activities had garnered negative attention83—and Patterson himself could sense how matters were changing severely as the Red Scare deepened. “The American political scene in some vital respects,” he informed the eminent British jurist D. N Pritt, “gives cause for increasing alarm,” since “for the first time in the history of the United States, men and women who advocate a political philosophy which does not conform to the dominant ideology in vogue at this time, and who advocate democratic political action which is considered unorthodox have been labeled criminals.” Yet—and this is why he was reaching out to London—“never before were the rulers of this country more sensitive to reaction from abroad.” Thus, he sent similar appeals to the World Federation of Trade Unions, influential foreign periodicals, and human-rights campaigners.84 In return, Patterson encouraged the Vienna-based World Council of Peace to reach out to the Negro press in the United States with its concerns about Washington’s orientation.85 Patterson also encouraged the historian Herbert Aptheker to provide an analysis of anticommunist legislation for comrades in France.86

It was seemingly inexorable when in early 1956 the CRC was forced out of business. As a matter of virtual self-defense, nineteen chapters of progressive activists dissolved, just as the Montgomery bus boycott was marking a new stage in the struggle against Jim Crow.87 An indicator of why this dissolution occurred came in early 1956, when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was told curtly by a leader of the National Baptist Convention that “millions are standing at your back”—yet “your stand has been so perfect that I trust there will be nothing done to mar it,” a reference to the fact that King’s comrade, the Rev. Ralph David Abernathy, was slated “to speak for the Civil Rights Congress,” who were “on the subversive list.” Abernathy was counseled “to withdraw because it might bring bad repercussion[s].”88 Thus, those who had marked a new stage in the anti–Jim Crow struggle with Scottsboro were forced to retreat when the struggle reached a new stage in Montgomery—to the detriment of all—though both of these bends in the onrushing course of history were part of the same mighty river of freedom.

Nineteen fifty-six was also a year of profundity, not unlike 1941 or 1989, as France, Britain, and Israel waged war in Israel, while Soviet tanks rumbled into Budapest and—perhaps most important for the CP—revelations were unveiled about Stalin’s crimes. The latter two developments in particular alienated numerous comrades, (p.156) driving many from the ranks—though, strikingly, this was less true for Negro comrades who had fewer options in the United States and often were more determined to transform the nation radically. The split in CP ranks took the ostensible form of a standoff between a faction led by Ben Davis and William Z. Foster pitted against another symbolized by John Gates—who subsequently departed, with the issue of one’s stance toward Moscow being a pivotal divide.89 Since the Negro comrades had fewer illusions about the beneficence of the United States and a keener recognition of the need for global pressure to alleviate the plight of African Americans, they were more disposed to aligning with Moscow. For the most part, Negro comrades—including Patterson—stood alongside Davis and Foster, though not without friction.90

Surely, this internal wrangling was not helpful when Montgomery signaled a breath of fresh air. “This is not the time for panic,” was the view of Ferdinand Smith. But when political earthquakes rumble, this is easy advice to discard. Echoing the views of many Negro comrades, Smith also denounced “the current hysterical anti-Soviet utterances which are now so prevalent in the New York Daily Worker”—Gates’s bastion—sparked by “Stalin’s excesses.”91

As for Patterson, this internecine conflict was an added blow, compounded by the brusqueness of his recent imprisonment. The period from 1956 to 1960, said Patterson’s comrade Claude Lightfoot, was “one of the worst periods in my adult life,” as a result of the “factional disputes” that plagued the CP, and Patterson could have agreed easily.92 He may not have realized it at the time, but Patterson, who had risen in prominence as Jim Crow waxed, was to decline likewise—and ironically—as domestic apartheid waned.


(1.) William Patterson to Louise Thompson Patterson, 13 February 1954, box 5, folder 3, William Patterson Papers.

(2.) Time, 11 May 1953, box 29, Ben Burns Papers, Chicago Public Library. See House Un-American Activities Committee, “The American Negro and the Communist Party,” 22 December 1954, Western Reserve Historical Society, Cleveland. Of the 5,395 “leading members” of the CP, “only 411 were Negroes.” See also J. Edgar Hoover to Robert Cutler, ca. 1950s, box 16, FBI Series, White House Office, OSANSA Records, Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, Abilene, Kans.: At present, “only 1,994 active, disciplined, dues paying Negro members in the Communist Party.” It is alleged here that in 1939 there were 5,005 Negro members in the CP, and in 1946, according to William Z. Foster, CP leader, Negroes were 14 percent of the party; 17 percent in 1947; 14 percent in 1949; and 15 percent in 1950. Thus, 3,701 “at present” is based on an estimated membership of 24,674 in August 1952.

(3.) Baltimore Afro-American, 7 July 1951.

(4.) Notes from Cabinet Meeting, 9 March 1956, box 16, Maxwell Rabb Papers, Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, Abilene, Kans.

(5.) “Memorandum for the President,” 7 March 1956, box 16, Maxwell Rabb Papers, Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, Abilene, Kans.

(6.) Minutes of Discussion, 30 June 1955, box 2, folder 13, Junius Scales Papers, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

(7.) Saunders Redding, An American in India: A Personal Report on the Indian Dilemma and the Nature of Her Conflicts (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1954), 75, 105, 114, 128, 169, 218, 253.

(8.) Ronald Radosh, Commies: A Journey through the Old Left, the New Left, and Leftover Left (San Francisco: Encounter, 2001), 47. See also Michael Meeropol, ed., The Rosenberg Letters: A Complete Edition of the Prison Correspondence of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg (New York: Garland, 1994).

(9.) Testimony of William Patterson, 26 July 1957, Reel 27, Part II, Records of Subversive Activities Control Board, NARA-CP.

(10.) Howard Fast, Being Red (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1990), 316.

(11.) William Patterson to Marguerite Robinson, 20 November 1952, box 9, folder 3, CRC-LA Papers. (p.260)

(12.) Testimony of David Brown, 3 May 1955, Reel 26, Part II, Records of Subversive Activities Control Board, NARA-CP.

(13.) Freedom [New York], January 1953.

(14.) Testimony of William Patterson, 26 July 1957, Reel 27, Part II, Records of Subversive Activities Control Board, NARA-CP.

(15.) William Patterson to Ann Shaw, 3 July 1953, box 3, CRC-Michigan Papers.

(16.) New York Times, 24 January 1952.

(17.) William Patterson to Steve Nelson, 29 November 1952, box 7, Steve Nelson Papers, New York University.

(18.) William Patterson to Steve Nelson, 18 September 1953, box 7, Steve Nelson Papers, New York University. See also Steve Nelson, The 13th Juror (Leipzig: Panther, 1956), 121.

(19.) William Patterson to Steve Nelson, 4 December 1953, box 7, Steve Nelson Papers, New York University.

(20.) CRC Press Release, 9 March 1954, Printed Ephemera, New York University.

(21.) William Patterson to J. A. Rogers, 14 October 1954, box 16, folder 23, William Patterson Papers.

(22.) Daily Worker, 8 December 1954.

(23.) “U.S. vs. Patterson,” 27 January 1955, Civil Rights Law Letter 1.1 (February 1955): 1, New York University.

(24.) Article by James Ford, ca. 1954, box 2, James Ford Papers, New York University.

(25.) James Ford to “Comrade Flynn,” 10 December 1954, James Ford Papers, New York University.

(26.) Testimony of Patterson’s Counsel, 8 February 1955, Reel 24, Part II, Records of Subversive Activities Control Board, NARA-CP.

(27.) Testimony of David Brown, 3 May 1955, Reel 26, Part II, Records of Subversive Activities Control Board, NARA-CP.

(28.) William Patterson to Louise T. Patterson, 12 July 1954, box 5, folder 3, William Patterson Papers.

(29.) William Patterson to Louise T. Patterson, 2 July 1954, box 5, folder 3, William Patterson Papers.

(30.) William Patterson to Louise Patterson, 8 July 1954, box 5, folder 3, William Patterson Papers.

(31.) William Patterson to Louise T. Patterson, 16 July 1954, box 5, folder 3, William Patterson Papers.

(32.) William Patterson to J. A. Rogers, box 16, folder 23, William Patterson Papers.

(33.) William Patterson to Louise T. Patterson, 2 July 1954, box 5, folder 3, William Patterson Papers.

(34.) William Patterson to Louise T. Patterson, 16 July 1954, box 5, folder 3, William Patterson Papers.

(35.) Pittsburgh Courier, 20 November 1954.

(36.) William Patterson to Louise Patterson, 16 July 1954, box 5, folder 3, William Patterson Papers.

(37.) William Patterson to Louise Patterson, 5 July 1954, box 5, folder 3, William Patterson Papers.

(38.) William Patterson to Louise Patterson, 8 July 1954, box 5, folder 3, William Patterson Papers.

(39.) William Patterson to Louise Patterson, 16 July 1954, box 5, folder 3, William Patterson Papers. (p.261)

(40.) William Patterson to Louise Patterson, 23 February 1955, box 5, folder 3, William Patterson Papers.

(41.) William Patterson to Louise Patterson, n.d. [ca. early 1955].

(42.) William Patterson to Louise Patterson, 8 July 1954, box 5, folder 3, William Patterson Papers.

(43.) William Patterson to Louise Patterson, 17 July 1954, box 5, folder 3, William Patterson Papers.

(44.) William Patterson to Louise Patterson, 20 July 1954, box 5, folder 3, William Patterson Papers.

(47.) William Patterson to Louise Patterson, 25 July 1954, box 5, folder 3, William Patterson Papers.

(48.) William Patterson to Louise Patterson, 8 September 1954, box 5, folder 3, William Patterson Papers.

(49.) J. Edgar Hoover to Robert Cutler, ca. 1950s, box 16, FBI Series, White House Office, OSANSA Records, Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, Abilene, Kans. The following words of the CP were highlighted: “The Negro Question in the United States is no longer just a domestic question … it is now an international question. The new stage of the Negro liberation movement merges with the struggle of the colonial and darker peoples of the Far East—as well as Africa—against the common enemy—Wall Street Imperialism.”

(50.) William Patterson to Louise Patterson, 11 August 1954, box 5, folder 3, William Patterson Papers.

(51.) William Patterson to Louise Patterson, n.d., box 5, folder 3, William Patterson Papers.

(52.) William Patterson to Louise Patterson, 6 January 1955, box 5, folder 3, William Patterson Papers.

(53.) William Patterson to Louise Patterson, 17 January 1955, box 5, folder 3, William Patterson Papers.

(54.) William Patterson to Louise Patterson, 25 August 1954, box 5, folder 3, William Patterson Papers.

(55.) William Patterson to Louise Patterson, 23 February 1955, box 5, folder 3, William Patterson Papers.

(56.) Daily Worker, 30 March 1953.

(57.) Daily Worker, 10 November 1954.

(58.) William Patterson Keynote Address, 19–20 February 1955, box 5, folder 4, William Patterson Papers.

(59.) James Ford to “Dear Ferdi” Smith, 15 December 1955, James Ford Papers, New York University.

(60.) Carol Boyce Davies, Left of Karl Marx: The Political Life of Black Communist Claudia Jones (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2008), 157.

(61.) Ward Churchill and Jim Vander Wall, eds., The COINTELPRO Papers: Documents from the FBI’s Secret Wars against Dissent in the United States (Cambridge, Mass.: South End Press, 2002).

(62.) J. H. Kleinkauf to A.H. Belmont, 4 February 1955, 100-39-246, Patterson/FBI/FOIA File.

(63.) FBI Report, 15 February 1955, 100-84-275, Patterson/FBI/FOIA File.

(64.) FBI Report, 5 August 1955, 100-3-75, Patterson/FBI/FOIA File. (p.262)

(65.) William Patterson to WIDF, 5 October 1955, 100-39-273, Patterson/FBI/FOIA File.

(66.) J. Edgar Hoover to Dillon Anderson, 9 January 1956, box 2, White House Office, Office of the Special Assistant for National Security Affairs: Records, 1952–61, FBI Series, Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, Abilene, Kans.

(67.) “BR” to Maxwell Rabb [on White House stationery], 10 May 1955, box 51, Maxwell Rabb Papers, Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, Abilene, Kans.

(68.) William Patterson, “A Study in Infamy,” Mainstream 14.6 (June 1961): 63–64.

(69.) Testimony of Arthur Paul Strunk, 11 January 1955, Reel 24, Part II, Records of Subversive Activities Control Board, NARA-CP. See also Testimony of Daniel Scarletto, 24 February 1955, Testimony of Anita Bell Schneider, 7 March 1955, and Testimony of Robert Dunn, 19 April 1955, Reel 26, Part II, Records of Subversive Activities Control Board, NARA-CP.

(70.) Testimony of Barbara Hartle, 9 February 1955, Reel 24, Part II, Records of Subversive Activities Control Board, NARA-CP.

(71.) Testimony of Bereniece Baldwin, 9 Febuary 1955, Reel 24, Part II, Records of Subversive Activities Control Board, NARA-CP.

(72.) Testimony of “Georgia Lee Magee,” 2 May 1955, Reel 26, Records of Subversive Activities Control Board, NARA-CP.

(73.) Testimony of William Patterson, 12 May 1955, Reel 27, Part II, Records of Subversive Activities Control Board, NARA-CP.

(74.) Closing Argument of Posey Kime, 5 July 1955, Reel 27, Part II, Records of Subversive Activities Control Board, NARA-CP.

(75.) Testimony of William Patterson, 26 July 1957, Reel 27, Part II, Records of Subversive Activities Control Board, NARA-CP.

(76.) Testimony of David Brown, 9 May 1955, Reel 26, Part II, Records of Subversive Activities Control Board, NARA-CP.

(77.) Sylvia Brown to William Patterson, 1 February 1955, box 16, folder 16, William Patterson Papers.

(79.) Testimony of David Brown, 2 May 1955, Reel 26, Part II, Records of Subversive Activities Control Board, NARA-CP.

(80.) William Patterson to David McKay, 2 February 1955, box 16, folder 24, William Patterson Papers.

(81.) New York Times, 25 February 1955.

(82.) Milton Friedman to William Nunn, 9 March 1955, box 16, folder 25, William Patterson Papers.

(83.) U.S. Congress, House of Representatives, Committee on Un-American Activities, 83d Cong., 1st Sess., “Investigation of Communist Activities in the San Francisco Area—Part I” (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1954), 3161.

(84.) William Patterson to D. N. Pritt, 27 July 1955, box 1, William Patterson Papers.

(85.) Jean Lafitte to William Patterson, 20 September 1956, box 1, William Patterson Papers.

(86.) Herbert Aptheker to William Patterson, 30 September 1953, box 3, folder 17, Herbert Aptheker Papers, Stanford University.

(87.) San Francisco Examiner, 10 January 1956; Daily Worker, 9 January 1956.

(88.) Leonard G. Garr to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., 5 March 1956, in The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr., vol. 3, Birth of a New Age, December 1955-December 1956, ed. Clayborne Carson (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992), 156. (p.263)

(89.) John Gates, The Story of an American Communist (New York: Nelson, 1958). See also Peggy Dennis, The Autobiography of an American Communist: A Personal View of a Political Life, 1925–1975 (New York: Lawrence Hill, 1977).

(90.) James Ford to Editors, 8 November 1956, James Ford Papers, New York University: “During my thirty years in the Communist Party I have found that it has been the practice of some white comrades to play Negroes against each other or to ‘line them up’ in the most unprincipled manner.”

(91.) Ferdinand Smith to Editors, 16 November 1956, James Ford Papers, New York University: “I was a member of the New York Seamens’ Branch of the [CP] at the time the Browder proposals were under discussion and our branch was, if I remember correctly, the only one in New York to reject the proposals.”

(92.) Claude Lightfoot, Chicago Slums to World Politics: The Autobiography of Claude Lightfoot (New York: New Outlook, 1988), 120.