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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 ...