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Robert Fay

James W. Ford was born in Pratt City, Alabama, on December 22, 1893. In 1913 he entered Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, and graduated in 1920 after serving in the army during World War I (1914–1918). Ford then moved to Chicago, where he became a postal worker and joined the Chicago Postal Workers Union and the American Negro Labor Congress, both affiliates of the Communist Party USA.

Ford joined the Communist Party in 1926 and rose rapidly through its ranks. In 1928 he was a delegate to the party's executive committee meeting in Moscow. In 1931 he became vice president of the party's League of Struggle for Negro Rights. He was the first African American on a presidential ticket, running for vice president with William Z. Foster in 1932. They received 102,991 votes.

In 1933 Ford was selected to head the party s ...


The son of former slaves, Harry Haywood moved with his family from Nebraska to Minneapolis, which he left to fight in the 370th Infantry in France during World War I. Settling in Chicago, Illinois in the early 1920s, Haywood supported himself as a bootblack, busboy, and bellboy. He was recruited into the African Blood Brotherhood, a secret Black Nationalist organization, as well as into the Young Workers League, both associated with the Communist Party of the USA (CPUSA).

Haywood was a leading proponent of Black Nationalism, self-determination, and the idea that American blacks are a colonized people who should organize themselves into a nation. From 1926 to 1930, Haywood studied in the Soviet Union, where he met several anticolonial revolutionaries, including Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh. On his return to the U.S. in 1931 he was chosen to head the Communist Party s Negro Department ...


Jalane Schmidt

Born and raised in the San Francisco area, William L. Patterson attended local public schools and later abandoned studies in engineering at the University of California at Berkeley to pursue a J.D. at the Hastings College of Law in San Francisco. At Hastings Patterson began a lifelong involvement in political issues, protesting racism and arguing against African American participation in the “white man's” World War I. Earning his law degree in 1919, Patterson moved to New York City and established a legal practice in Harlem with two colleagues. His years in New York coincided with the height of the Harlem Renaissance, and Patterson developed relationships with Paul Robeson, W. E. B. Du Bois, and other prominent African American activists. He began to work increasingly with left-wing causes, and was active in the ultimately fruitless campaign to free Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti immigrant Italian anarchists ...


Barbara L. Ciccarelli

Patterson, William L. (27 August 1891–05 March 1980), writer, attorney, and leader of the American Communist party was born William Lorenzo Patterson in San Francisco California the son of James Edward Patterson a ship s cook and dentist and Mary Galt a domestic After his father left the family to become a missionary as a Seventh day Adventist his mother worked to support the family Failure to pay the rent resulted in numerous evictions but Patterson managed to attend Tamalpais High School in California by working first as a newsboy and later as a racetrack hand He graduated from high school in 1911 and studied to be a mining engineer at the University of California Berkeley but had to drop out because he could not afford tuition No scholarships were available and he objected to Berkeley s compulsory military training Later Patterson refused to participate in World ...