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A Tale of Three Cities: Loren Miller in Moscow, Los Angeles & New York in 1935.

It was apparent that the Communist's Third Period policy, adopted at the Sixth World Congress of the Communist International (Comintern) in 1928, was a failure. The policy held that the typical characteristic of the Third Period "was the appearance of Social Democracy as an ally of world Capitalism and its assumption of Fascist ideas" (Rosenberg 1934, 232). In practice, the policy meant the Party attacked all non-Communist groups on the left as social fascists. The most notable failure was Germany, where the divided left aided Hitler's rise to power.

In 1934 Georgi Dimitrov, a Bulgarian, became head of the Comintern. Dimitrov gained international fame as a defendant in the Reichstag trial in Germany where Leo Gallagher, Loren Miller's mentor, was one of the defense lawyers. Dimitrov went to Moscow after he was acquitted and Stalin placed him in charge of the Comintern. With Stalin's consent, Dimitrov began to move the Comintern away from the Third Period line, which had lumped all left non-Communist forces together. In a letter to Stalin, Dimitrov asked "whether it is correct to refer to social democracy indiscriminately as social fascism. By taking such a position, we have frequently blocked our way to social democratic workers" (Dallin & Firsov 2000,13). (1) Dimitrov urged Stalin to allow national parties more independence and to accept the ...
   impossibility of effectively
   controlling from Moscow all
   the Communist sections, which
   find themselves in very diverse
   conditions (legal and illegal parties,
   parties in the metropolis and in
   the colonies, parties in highly
   developed industrial countries and
   those in predominantly agrarian
   countries, etc.) (Dallin & Firsov
   2000,18) (2) 

In the summer of 1935, the Seventh, and last, World Congress ofthe Comintern met in Moscow. It rejected the Third Period line andreplaced it with one designed to unite all progressive forces, Communistand non-Communist alike, in a front against war and fascism. This changein line resulted in the rapid growth of the American Party's sizeand influence. (3)

1935 was the year Loren Miller reached the pinnacle of successin the Communist movement, becoming its most prominent blackintellectual, as distinct from political types like James Ford and BenDavis. Miller produced literary propaganda with skill and style. His penwas his weapon in the class struggle. Miller moved to New York in lateMay to join the staff of the Party's preeminent literary journal,New Masses. The Party's leaders recognized Miller's skill inconveying the Party's line. Ben Davis praised his style."It conveys," he wrote, "the impression of completeand 'holy' impartiality, that is, the writer had noparticular fanatical love for the movement but must through the sheercorrectness of its program find himself in accord with the revolutionaryway out" (Letter from Ben Davis to Miller (LDM) November4,1934).

Miller began the year in Los Angeles where the Depression wasstill wreaking havoc. The first month of the year saw over 143,000families added to the relief rolls, a record number, bringing the totalto 460,000. (4) The Scottsboro case was back in the news when the ILD.Supreme Court agreed to review the appeals by Clarence Norris andHeywood Patterson. The Communist press claimed the ILD and mass pressureforced the Courts action. These claims were echoed in the black press.(5)

Miller remained active in the Congress Against War and Fascism.He received requests from Joseph Pass, editor ofFIGHT, the organization's magazine, for articles. In January, Passsuggested Miller submit an article on Orientals in California since thegroup was a fascist target. New Masses also published a call for an American Writers Congress to take place onMay 1,1935, in New York. The Congress invited "all writers whohave achieved some standing in their respective fields; who have clearlyindicated their sympathy to the revolutionary cause; who do not need tobe convinced of the decay of capitalism, of the inevitability ofrevolution" (New Masses, January 22, 1935, 20). (6) Miller was one of the writers called. InFebruary, Miller submitted an article on another theme and Pass remindedhim that he still wanted the article on Orientals. (7) In April hereceived an invitation to attend the organizational meeting for theCongress. (8)

Miller's primary focus, however, was journalism. Hecontinued writing for the Negro Liberator, the organ of the League of Struggle for Negro Rights (LSNR) and for theSentinel. In January he published an article on racial discrimination in the LosAngeles relief program in the Negro Liberator, pointing out that Negro social workers employed by the Federalgovernment were forbidden to service white recipients, while whitesocial workers were free to make professional calls on blacks. Blackrelief workers were verbally abused and fired at a higher rate thanwhites. Negro applicants for relief were segregated in Jim Crowdistricts while race mixing in the stores, where the unemployed went toget supplies, was forbidden. (9)

He continued his column "The Way Out!" in theNegro Liberator. His column reflected the Party line as he promoted Third Period themeswith attacks on reformist organizations like the NAACP. In January heridiculed Charles Houston as two-faced for his representation in theCrawford case. George Crawford had been accused of the murder of a whitewoman in Virginia. The NAACP, with Charles Houston as the lead attorney,took the case to counter the charge that, unlike the International LegalDefense (ILD), the militant Communist defense organization, it was notmilitant in defense of blacks. Crawford received a life sentence after ajury trial, which the NAACP considered a victory. The Communists, on theother hand, argued that Houston had prostrated himself before the court,had not aggressively pursued witnesses for the defense, and hadabandoned an attack on the jury system. Miller repeated this attack inhis column noting:
   Prior to the trial the man was
   downright militant about the whole
   affair--at least in words--and he gave
   the impression that he was going to
   teach Virginia quite a lesson about
   Negro rights to sit on grand and petit
   juries. But once he got inside the
   courtroom the Deans's whole manner
   changed and before the amazing trial
   had ended he was proclaiming
   Crawford's life sentence a great
   victory. (10) 

Miller was under constant pressure from New York to keepcurrent with his column. In late January, Davis wrote Miller that he wasbehind on his articles on the relief series and to "Please getbusy and send these installments at once." In the same letterDavis noted Miller wrote for the Sentinel and commented: "Incidentally, we trust that you will be able tocarry out the correct propaganda in this paper" (LDM January21,1935).

In a Sentinel editorial in late January, Miller praised the arrest of Sufi AdbulHamid in Harlem. Hamid, whose enemies labeled him the "BlackHitler," boycotted and picketed Harlem stores owned by Jews,Greeks and Italians. These stores had black customers, but no blackworkers, especially clerks. The Communists led street demonstrationsagainst Hamid, accusing him of race baiting and leading a nationalistboycott movement that threatened to divide black and white workers."Suffering as they do from prejudice," wrote Miller,"Negroes should be the very last people to identify themselveswith any doctrine of race hatred." He noted Negroes should feelno pity for Hamid and it was good riddance he was in jail. (11)

In Los Angeles, the police department continued itsanti-communist crusade. In February, the Chief, James Davis, with theslogan "Down with Communism," made a lecture tour ofclubs, civic organizations and peace officer associations in the cityand county. The Board of Police Commissioners passed a resolutioncommending him for his "eloquent address" on communism andradicalism in the United States. (12) The Red Squad was also active. Thelocal NAACP summoned the Red Squad to its annual meeting to intimidate agroup of young progressives who were challenging the old guard at anelection of the chapter's officers. (13) William Hynes, the RedSquads leader, testified as an expert at a Communist criminalsyndicalism trial in Sacramento where Leo Gallagher was the defenseattorney. (14)

In the mean time, there were ominous developments on theinternational scene. Italian troops increased in Eritrea as a prelude tothe invasion of Ethiopia. This aroused alarm in both the Communist andblack press. In its February 17th issue, the DailyWorker ran a first page article with the headline "Mussolini MobilizesFor War In Africa" while the Sentinel also covered the Italian war preparations. (15)

Loren Miller's column in the NegroLiberator was always behind schedule. This prompted Benjamin Davis to send moreletters complaining about the delay. On February 1st Davis wrote toMiller, "Say what on the earth is the matter? Are you sick deador what?" In the same letter, Davis made the tongue-in-cheekthreat, "I swear if you don't hurry your stuff I wont[sic] recommend you for membership on the staff of American Pravda afterthe revolution." Two weeks later, Davis wrote Miller, "Youare way back in your column." He also gave Miller fresh news thatindicated the Party's plan to hold a national congress for NegroRights in the next six months to bring all forces together in a"united front" (LDM February 1, 1935). He urged Miller to"Be sure you keep this in mind and start talking about it outthere on the coast, especially in your Sentinel " (LDM February 12, 1935). He closed the letter with theadmonishment, "And for heaven's sake get those columns offimmediately"(LDM February 18,1935). (16)

Miller wrote to Davis, "I am ready to eat worms anddie." He indicated that he had no excuse except that he was busyas hell. With respect to the Sentinel, he said, "I shall do all in my power to aid but I would warn youthat I do not own the Sentinel. I only work there"(LMD, undated, LMP Box 3, F4). (17) One reasonfor Miller's dereliction was the preparation of an article on theRosenwald Fund for New Masses. In February, Miller published his first piece in the magazine, a reviewof Charles S. Johnson's Shadow Of ThePlantation, a study of the appalling conditions in the rural areas surroundingTuskegee Institute, an institution funded by industrial philanthropists,including Julius Rosenwald. The Johnson study was also financed by theRosenwald Fund. Miller concluded that white philanthropy had donenothing for the black masses and their "only salvation lies inthe destruction of that system of property relations that keeps most ofthem in abject poverty and supplies a few chosen ones with funds tostudy that poverty"(Miller 1935, 23-24). (18)

Miller finished a draft of a major article on the RosenwaldFund for New Masses and submitted it to the magazine. Eugene Gordon, a black editor,requested Miller redo the citations and send the revisions to anothereditor, Joseph North. In late February, Miller sent North the revisionswith the accompanying remark that Gordon had said "the manuscriptcontains such excellent material we feel it should be published."However, "He objected that it was not completely annotated.Complying with his suggestion I have re-written it and made the notesmore complete." In the same letter, after calling Ralph Bunche an"opportunist of the rankest kind," he asked North toexpedite the printing of the article since the material was timesensitive and the Liberator would publish it if New Masses was not interested. (19)

Despite his tardiness, Miller published columns and editorialsin the Negro Liberator and the Sentinel. In these articles he followed the Third Period Party line, attackingmoderate social reformers and other enemies of the Party. In oneLiberator column, he lambasted William Randolph Hearst and his newspapers,calling Hearst the "all-time all-American hater" while inanother he equated Chicago Congressman Arthur Mitchell with a tool ofthe bankers and industrialists. (20) In theSentinel, he wrote one editorial supporting the LSNR line on congressionalenactment of unemployment and social insurance and another continuinghis attack on the NAACP and Charles Houston for their handling of theCrawford case. "The skeleton of the Crawford case in the NAACPcloset," he wrote, "continues to rattle," as hereported that Houston was heckled at a Springarn testimonial meeting inNew York. (21)

The Scottsboro case was in the news again. In mid-February theU.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on the latest appeal. In aSentinel editorial, Miller echoed the ILD line that the Court was influenced bymass pressure, writing,
   The supreme court is responsive
   to public opinion, just as are all
   other public servants. As Mr.
   Dooley once expressed it: 'The
   constitution may not follow the
   flag but the supreme court
   certainly follows the election
   returns.' (Los Angeles Sentinel
   February 7,1935, 1) 

Even though the Communist Party USA (CPUSA) continued to followthe old line in its attacks on the New Deal, characterizing it"as a program of fascization," the evolution in Cominternpolicy soon found expression in the Party's theoretical work.(22) In February, James W. Ford, the most powerful black person in theAmerican Party, published an article "The United Front in theField of Negro Work" in The Communist, the Party's theoretical journal. In the piece he urged partymembers to alter work in the black community and to abandon harshsectarian attacks on reformist leaders. Using the Scottsboro litigationas a case study, he urged Party organizers to build a united front inblack organizations such as the churches, lodges, fraternities, as wellas the trade unions and the Socialist Party. "They can beapproached," he wrote, "with the conception of Scottsboroas a symbol of national oppression and for national liberation. We mustnot come to these organizations with their varying programs with theidea of destroying them but with the idea of bringing them nearer to theprogram of the League of Struggle for Negro Rights"(Ford1935,169). (23) Ford also urged the organizers to change their attitudewhen they entered these organizations. "We must be sensible andhuman in our contact with these workers," he wrote, "andbe careful never to assume an attitude of superiority, as many of ourcomrades do. We must learn the rules of how meetings are conducted andbe able to conduct ourselves in such a manner as to gain the respect andconfidence of the members" (Ford 1935,173). (24)

The policy was followed in practice. A compromise was reachedamong groups seeking to represent the defendants before the SupremeCourt. The argument was divided between representatives of the ILD andother groups. In late February, the Supreme Court took the case underadvisement on the issue of the exclusion of blacks from grand and petitjuries. (25) The CPUSA'S new united front policy was not confinedto Negro work, but also applied to the A.F. of L. unions and theSocialist Party. (26)

While Miller continued his journalistic writing for theSentinel and the Negro Liberator on the themes of fascism at home and abroad, the Rooseveltadministration failed to pass social insurance that covered domesticsand farm workers, black people were inadequately represented in LosAngeles, and Miller continued to receive complaints from New York thathe was not sending columns fast enough. In mid-March, Davis wrote Millerthat he must send three columns immediately since "We have notreceived a column from you in almost a month" (LDM March18,1935). (27)

The Negro Liberator faced severe financial difficulties. The newspaper launched anemergency fund raising campaign after having to retrench to asemi-monthly publication from a weekly. The financial woes were symbolicof LSNR'S failure as a mass organization and explained theParty's decision to create a new mass organization that wouldinclude non-party elements. In early March, Davis wrote Miller that hewould "have something very definite to writ [...] about theNational Congress for Negro Rights within the next twoweeks."

The Negro Liberator also published an editorial "Toward A Congress For NegroRights" around the same time. (28) Miller received feedback onhis column from readers of the newspaper. A letter from a member of theBrooklyn chapter of the LSNR complained that he used too many big words."Since our purpose is to educate workers to the classstruggle," the member wrote, "we must be careful to usewords every worker can understand." He pointed out that wordslike "indiscriminate," "designation" and"contention" went over the average workers head. (29) Heconstructed a column around the criticism he received in another letter,chastising him for giving "the impression that our problems arepurely and simply those of color and that in some references to'whites' I had issued a blanket indictment of whitepeople." Miller pled guilty to this mistake and emphasized"What is necessary is for poor Negroes and poor whites to see thesituation in its real light. Both groups have got to understand thatthey must unite on the basis of the class to which they belong andforswear old color antagonisms or be reduced to a worse than starvationstandard of living" (Negro Liberator, May 1,1935, 3). He concluded by applauding the letter'scriticism, noting that "A verbal kick in the pants is lightpunishment considering the gravity of the crime" (NegroLiberator, May 1, 1935, 7).

Not all Miller's correspondence from New York wasnegative. In mid-March Davis sent Miller news that must have brought joyto his heart. "I understand," wrote Davis, "thatthere is a definite demand for you on the staff of the NewMasses. All of our friends here agree that such a position would be ideal foryou and the magazine. We hope that you can accept thisimmediately" (LDM March 18, 1935). By the time the letter reachedhim, an earthshaking event took place in Harlem, which impacted both theParty and Miller's stay in New York.

On the afternoon of March 19, 1935, a 16-year-old Puerto Ricanboy, Lino Rivera, was detained for shoplifting a penknife in the W.H.Kress store on Harlem's 125th Street. Customers thought storepersonnel had beat the youth as they dragged him to the basement. Aprotest began in the store and a crowd gathered outside. LouiseThompson, Miller's companion on the trip to the Soviet Union in1932, and a party activist, happened to pass by and, along with otherparty organizers, entered the store to check on the status of the youngman. New York police arrived later and began to disperse the shoppers inthe store and the crowd outside. A rumor, which proved false, spreadthat the youngster was beaten to death.

For a day and a night Harlem rioted. The writer, Claude McKay,an eyewitness, described the event:
   The Black Belt ran amok along Fifth,
   Lenox, Seventh and Eighth Avenues,
   from 116th to 145th Street, and smashed
   and looted the stores. The storm broke
   in the afternoon and lasted all night
   long. It was a spontaneous community
   protest against social and legal
   injustice. (30) 

Police shot one black man to death, while over 100 were injuredand 120 jailed. Police officers were injured by hurled bricks andstones. (31) Local officials and some blacks blamed the Communists forthe outbreak, claiming they had stirred the crowds to violence throughinflammatory pamphlets and speeches. The police raided theParty's Harlem headquarters and made arrests.

However, the consensus was, The New YorkTimes reported, "that the basic cause is economic maladjustment;segregation and discrimination against Negroes in the matter ofemployment." (32) New York's, Mayor Fiorello La Guardia,organized a multi-racial committee, which included A. Phillip Randolphand the poet Countee Cullen, to investigate the causes of the disorder.It became clear that the riot was economic, not racial, as whites werenot molested on the streets. The Communists were exonerated and turnedthe riot into an organizing tool for a popular front in Harlem.(33)

In April, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Norris v.Alabama, the Scottsboro appeal, which signified another major victory forprogressive forces. The Supreme Court held that the Alabama court hadviolated the 14th Amendment when it excluded blacks from grand and trialjuries. The decision reinforced a trend in which the Court rejected itspast practice of deference to state factual findings and began anindependent Federal review of race issues. "Here, too, the mostimportant shift was the Court's assertion," wrote LorenMiller, "that it would not be bound by state court findings thatno racial discrimination had been exercised in jury selection but wouldinsist upon determining whether 'in truth a federal right hadbeen denied' and would examine the evidence upon which thefindings rested" (Miller 1965, 275). (34)

The Communist press hailed the decision as a victory for theworking class and vindication of the ILD and LSNR tactic of massstruggle through nationwide protests. The black press also applauded thevictory. (35) For Miller the decision crystallized an insight about theU.S. political apparatus, namely that the U.S. Supreme Court had"become the final repository of power in our governmentalsystem." Miller expanded on the insight:
   In every organized society such power
   must rest somewhere, whether in the
   chief of a tribal system, the absolute
   monarch of the Middle Ages, the
   dictators of the past or present, or the
   legislature in parliamentary
   government. When all else fails, the
   supreme organ must settle the issues
   that confront the society, and the more
   controversial the issue, the more
   certain that lesser state organs will
   default and defer to the final expositor
   of governmental power. By the same
   token, the greater will be the outcry
   against whatever settlement is
   effected. (36) 

By the end of the year, the ILD and the Party had relinquishedcontrol of the Scottsboro defense and had entered a united front withmoderates.

Subsequently, charges were dropped against five of the ninedefendants, four were convicted in 1936 and 1937. Three of these werelater paroled and the other escaped from prison in Alabama and died in aMichigan penitentiary. (37)

During April, Miller continued to receive letters from NewYork, demanding he send columns promptly. He sent a column on the needfor a national conference of Negroes to form a united front on issues ofunemployment, Federal relief, and fascism. He criticized wealthy whitefoundations like the Rosenwald Fund, as well as the NAACP, for callingnational conferences that ended up benefiting a handful of privilegedblacks. "The trouble with other gatherings," he wrote,"has been that they were mere smoke screens behind which wealthywhite 'friends', ambitious to control Negroes and Negroesanxious to be controlled at a price, got together to expedite theirplans." (38) In another column he attacked Negro ministers inCleveland who sought to prevent the performance of the Communistinspired play, Stevedore, because of "its ability to arouse the masses and prepare themfor a united effort to junk our present system with its luxury on onehand and its starvation on the other." (39) He also was active inthe LSNR, which was holding conferences in Los Angeles promoting thecreation of a national united front among all segments of the blackcommunity and he endorsed a regional conference in Southern Californiato draw together young workers, students, the unemployed, liberals andthe religious to establish a common program to confront their problems.(40) Finally, he raised money for the NegroLiberator. Davis urged him to speak at a mass meeting to raise $5,000 using one ofthe LSNR branches. (41)

Miller, in April, made his first appearance on the nationalliterary stage when his article "Mail-Order Dictatorship: TheRosenwalds and 12,000,000 Negroes" appeared in NewMasses. New Masses, a weekly magazine, presented the Communist viewpoint on the day to dayissues facing America's middle-class. "The leading youngwriters of America," wrote Joseph North in the DailyWorker, "gathered about the magazine" and provided"regular coverage of strikes, of political, economic and socialoccurrences by able revolutionary journalists and politicalleaders." (42)

In the article, Miller described the philanthropic activitiesof Sears, Roebuck and Company, which began as a Chicago based mail-orderhouse. One of its primary targets was the black community. With thecreation of the Rosenwald Fund in 1928, the organization became the mostgenerous donor to black causes including the NAACP and the Urban League,as well as leading black intellectuals like Ralph Bunche, Charles S.Johnson and Robert Weaver. When the New Deal was created, the group ofintellectuals funded by the Rosenwald Fund became a black brain trust,speaking for the Negro community and occupying key positions in New Dealagencies. The Rosenwald Fund money became a means of social control ofblack affairs. Miller complained that Fund beneficiaries had no mandatefrom the Negro people and, instead, represented and furthered theinterests of the Fund whose "board of trustees was entirelywhite; its funds came from a white corporation that practiceddiscrimination in employment" (Miller 1935,11). Moreover,"the Negro brain trusters have done nothing," he wrote."Of course, the basic problems of the Negro people have not beentackled" (Miller 1935,11). The article had an impact on the blackintellectuals he criticized, one example of which is the copy of thearticle with extensive handwritten notes found in the papers of RalphBunche, one of Millers targets. (43)

When the article appeared, Miller received a letter from Davisimploring him to hurry to New York. "We have all been expectingthat you would be in New York on the New Masses wrote Davis, "and are wondering now what's holding youout there ... As you know," Davis continued, "the harvestis large and the workmen are few here. So you should pack up and come onin" (LDM April 16,1935).

New York, especially Harlem, was the epicenter of the Communistmovement in the United States. The Party's leadership lived thereand the major black cadres in the party used Harlem as a base. With itsmass unemployment, which the Party estimated at 75 to 85 percent, andthe success of the Scottsboro mobilization, the Party grew rapidly inmembership and influence in the nation's most influential blackcommunity. "A word should be said here about the nationalresponsibilities of our Section," wrote James Ford and Louis Bassabout the Party's Harlem Section, "Our section has wellunderstood that just as the reformists give leadership to the entirecountry from Harlem, so the revolutionary movement also has to assist inthe development of the Negro liberation movement all over thecountry" (Ford & Bass 1935). The Harlem Section had doubledbetween 1933 and 1934 to over 1,000 members with more than 300 blacks.It focused on the penetration of Negro organizations and theinfiltration of Party members into the transportation industry. TheHarlem Section had a sizeable Puerto Rican contingent. (44) New York wasexciting for a journalist like Miller because the Party was organizingthe first American Writers Congress, which met in the City in the firstweek of May. The Congress brought together most of the left-wing writersin the nation including Langston Hughes, Miller's longtimeconfidant. (45)

Miller's attention was divided between two cities: LosAngeles and New York. On May Day, a Los Angeles rally at the downtownPlaza attracted over 8,000 progressives, including Communists,Socialists, members of the Epic movement and Utopians, who demonstratedfor unemployment insurance and freedom for the Scottsboro Boys, theSacramento criminal syndicalism defendants, and all other class warprisoners. Los Angeles city officials were forced to abandon a ban onloud speakers. The Chamber of Commerce and property owners protested tothe City Council that the demonstration was detrimental to publicwelfare and the Council should eliminate the free speech zone at thesite. The City Council and the Police Commission agreed and the Councilinstructed the City Attorney to draft an ordinance prohibiting the useof the Plaza for mass rallies. (46)

The Los Angeles Red Squad, even though Captain Hynes was on aleave of absence for nine months, still used force to intimidate unionorganizers and protestors at government offices. (47) When a delegationasked Mayor Shaw to disband the Red Squad, he said no because theFederal government had requested City governments throughout the nationto maintain intelligence units to track Communists. (48)

Loren Miller, still active in Los Angeles, spoke to a youthsymposium in early May, and began to focus on Harlem. TheSentinel announced Miller was taking a leave of absence as it celebrated itsthird year of publication. (49) In late May, he left Los Angelesun-noticed on a train to New York, with a stop in Kansas City to visitrelatives. On May, 29th Wesley Covington, Executive Secretary of the LosAngeles Urban League wrote Miller at New Masses:
   Despite the fact that you left our city
   very hurriedly and without at least
   taking the inconvenience of saying
   goodbye to a few of us who feel very
   near you, I want, nevertheless, to
   extend my sincere congratulations to
   you in your new field. I have followed
   you very closely from our earliest
   association in college and subsequent
   thereto. I have always maintained that
   the time would come when the right
   organ for your rich and volatile
   expression would open its arms to you.
   A person of 'your mental keenness'
   must make a contribution. (50) 

At New Masses, Miller replaced Eugene Gordon, its only Negro editor, who was assignedto Moscow as a correspondent for the NegroLiberator and the Moscow News. Gordon planned to study the life of national minorities in the SovietUnion. Miller joined a distinguished staff of writers at NewMasses who served on the executive committee of the newly formed League ofAmerican Writers, which Miller joined. (51)

The CPUSA realized the LSNR was a failure. Even though it had acirculation of over 1,000 in Harlem, The NegroLiberator faced dire financial straits with a miniscule national circulation. Itwas time to consider an alternative mass organization which could builda united front between radical and moderate black groups. (52)

On May 18-20,1935, the Joint Committee on National Recovery, inconjunction with Howard University's Department of PoliticalEconomy, held a congress in Washington D.C. on the "Position ofthe Negro in the Present Economic Crisis." The Joint Committee,formed in 1933, with a small staff led by John P. Davis, a graduate ofHarvard Law School with ties to the Party, and Robert C. Weaver, aHarvard Ph.D., focused primarily on agitation and education around thespecial problems blacks encountered with the New Deal. Around 250delegates attended the conference, including governmental officials,black leaders and workers. Papers were presented by leading blackintellectuals like Ralph Bunche, E. Franklin Frazier, Abram Harris andW.E.B. DU Bois. After the conference, Bunche invited a select group ofdelegates to his home for further discussions; a consensus emerged thata new mass organization, a National Negro Congress (NNC), was needed tomobilize the black community to follow through on the goals agreed uponat the conference. The group planned a Chicago NNC organizationalmeeting in 1936. (53)

Soon after Miller arrived in Harlem he domiciled with LesterGranger, a friend he had known at the Eagle, where both had been writing columns. Granger, Secretary of the UrbanLeague's Workers' Bureau, had moved left in his politicsand organized the League's Worker's Councils in 17 stateswith a membership of more than 30,000. He urged an alliance withCommunists to advance the cause of black workers. (54) TheGranger-Miller bond was a concrete example of the Party's unitedfront policy since Miller had attacked Granger as clueless on the plightof black workers several years earlier during the sectarian ThirdPeriod. (55) In mid-June, Miller and Granger were invited to spend anevening "chinning" at the home of James Baker, an officialin the City of New York Emergency Relief Bureau. (56)

Miller plunged into an intense schedule of work atNew Masses. The Negro Liberator reported his new position at the "only revolutionary weeklymagazine of current events." It quoted Miller: "TheCommunist Party has shown us how we can win our place in the world asmen. This has been the greatest thing done by way of educating us forour next steps." (57) The Sentinel announced Miller would serve as its New York correspondent and keepreaders abreast of events on the east coast while he was on a six monthleave of absence. He sent articles soon thereafter. (58)

As an editor at New Masses, his assignments were not confined to articles on black issues. One ofhis first pieces was an analysis of the split in the Socialist Party."That's rather out of my line," he wrote his wife,''but I rather welcomed the job because I want to dosomething other than things about Negroes to take away the idea that Iam just a Race Man holding a job as a figure head as do the Zigs in theU.S. government, for example" (Miller to Wife, June 9,1935). Hewas listed as an editor of the magazine for the first time on June25,1935. (59)

Miller continued his work with the LSNR and the NegroLiberator. He was enlisted, along with Ben Davis, as prosecutor in a LSNRsponsored mass trial on Harlem conditions. The effort mobilized Elks,Masons and 33 other Harlem fraternal organizations, as well as prominentindividuals such as Rev. Adam Clayton Powel and Elmer Carter of theUrban League, for a public trial of New York city officials andemployees. (60) At the same time, the Party criticized the LSNR as a"narrow, sectarian organization," while it promoted theNational Negro Congress (NNC). Miller wrote his wife that the NNC was inthe works and this reality was mirrored in the Communist press.(61)

Miller had little money and was scraping by on funds sent byhis wife, a social worker. In early June he thanked her for $10, whichhe said saved him from Home Relief. But Harlem's politicalopenness sustained him. "Rather odd," he wrote her,
   to be living in a community like this
   one where the Communists are almost
   respectable. No group or groups
   planning to make a fight on civic
   abuses, for example, would think of
   setting about the task without the
   support and to some extent the
   sanction of the Reds. Preachers speak
   on the same platform with Ford and
   other Communists and permit the use
   of their churches and it seems quite the
   thing. (Miller to Wife,
   June 15,1935) (62) 

Millers work on the magazine brought him into contact withblack intellectuals like E. Franklin Frazier and Abram Harris. He keptbusy on half a dozen projects. He received an invitation to participatein a discussion on the "black belt" thesis at a workersinstitute in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. A letter from an Urban Leagueofficial in St. Louis praised him for "systematizing the thinkingof Negroes throughout the country and the relationship of theNew Masses to that." (63) He received an invitation to join theWriter's Union after Ben Davis suggested he might have interest.His major complaint, besides money, was having to keep office hoursafter his Los Angeles freedom. "I'm almost sorry,"he wrote his wife, "I was so anxious to go to work. The job I amdoing for New Masses is not exactly in my line and you will never guess just what it is fromreading the issue" (Miller to Wife, June 15, 1935). Miller wassent to St. Louis to report on the 26th annual Conference of the NAACP.The NAACP was at a crossroads as the young progressives led by AbramHarris wanted to move it to the left and recommended a stress oneconomic issues, an alliance between black and white workers, and areduction in the power of the oligarchy that controlled the organizationfrom the national office in New York. Before the conference, Millerreceived a memorandum to delegates setting forth these goals as well asresolutions from the conservative National Board that cut in a differentdirection, including a condemnation of the Soviet Union's foreignpolicy. (64) Ben Davis told Miller he was expecting "a realjuicy, original story on the NAACP convention." The article"How 'Left' Is the NAACP?" appeared inNew Masses in mid-July. Miller wrote that even though the organization hadoverwhelmingly adopted a program to build an industrial labor movementwhich would unite black and white workers, "the Associationleaders weren't nearly as militant as the program indicated. Theywere long on words but very short on concrete proposals foraction." (65) Miller noted that the NAACP, with 85,000 members in404 branches, was a mass organization. The membership demanded moredemocracy, with a devolution of power from the National Board to thebranches. But he was not optimistic this would occur. The Board was a"self-perpetuating oligarchy" with Walter White doing itsbidding and the membership had no real power to change theorganization's direction. The delegates had shown they were leftof the leadership when they rejected the Board's proposals tocriticize the foreign policy of the Soviet Union, and to condemnCommunism "in the same breath with fascism." But the Boardshowed its domination when it engineered the rejection of a resolutionto endorse the National Negro Congress. It was the NNC, Millerconcluded, which offered the real hope for a united front between allsegments of the black community, white workers, and progressives.(66)

The NAACP membership corrected an oversight in the officialresolutions and "pledged their support to Angelo Herndon and theScottsboro boys" (New Masses 1935, 12). Herndon, a twenty-one-year-old Communist, faced twenty yearson a Georgia chain gang after his conviction on a pre-Civil Warinsurrection statute for distribution of Communist literature tounemployed workers in Atlanta. Herndon, his case as famous as theScottsboro's, spoke at the 26th annual NAACP conference, whilefree on bail. A month before, the U.S. Supreme Court had denied hisappeal by a vote of 6 to 3. The Party organized mass protests demandinga re-hearing. "Contrary to the slanders against me, I will notskip bail, because I am a Communist and a Negro fighting for theliberation of the working class," Herndon told the convention.(67) Back in Harlem, Miller was active in the free Herndon movement. Hisprimary tool was his pen. Louis Colman, an ILD organizer, urged Millerto write an article on Herndon in Opportunity. "And, by the way," Colman wrote, "we suggest thatyou submit it to 'Opportunity' yourself, instead of sending it to us and having us submit it, since itstands a much better chance of getting in that way." (68) Millerreported on the Herndon case in the Negro Liberator and the Sentinel. He circulated an ILD petition on the case, promoted a contest with a$50.00 prize for the best play on Herndon, a working class hero, andwrote to the Deltas, a black sorority, soliciting their mailing list.(69)

The Harlem branch used the Ethiopian crisis as an organizingtool in building a united front. The Ethiopian question "hasaroused the Negro people in this country to a movement as nothing elsehas in recent years," wrote James Ford. For the first time, itenabled Party organizers to work with Garveyites and other nationalistgroups on a common issue, when a year earlier, they had fought in thestreets. It also enabled the party to educate the nationalists about analliance with progressive whites who opposed Mussolini's imperialambitions. (70) Miller participated in this Party work with newspaperreports and editorials for the Sentinel and unsigned pieces in New Masses. (71)

Miller's column in the Negro Liberator had an "electrifying effect" on readers. "I daresay Californians are tremendously interested, not only in what you thinkand dare express, but in all, or, at least, most of the dramatichappenings which occur in Manhattan, particularly Harlem," wrotea correspondent from the California News. (72) His wife organized lectures for Langston Hughes, the revolutionarypoet, on "Youth at the Crossroad." (73) Miller receivedreports on LSNR activities in Los Angeles, including an update onLangston Hughes's performances. The Los Angeles branch of the ILDmobilized pressure against the Los Angeles Police Department'spractices at the Lincoln Heights jail where several Communists wereincarcerated. The ILD complained to the City Council that the"class-war" prisoners, one of whom was black, were beaten,denied medical care, forbidden packages and mail, ill fed, and housed inthe "hole." The jail overseers denied the allegations andthe Police Commission and City Council adopted their findings.(74)

Right wing groups were on the move in Los Angeles. The Ku KluxKlan, in white sheets, marched with fiery crosses when a black familymoved into a white neighborhood on East 58th Place. A report circulatedthat William Dudley Pelley, the Jew-hating leader of the fascist SilverShirts, was hiding in Los Angeles, using it as a base for a campaign forthe Presidency on an anti-Semitic platform. (75) The Los Angeles PoliceDepartment, led by the Chief and the Red Squad, made an alliance withmoguls who dominated the film industry. Police Chief Davis gave numerousdirectors, executives, and actors pistol permits and gold badges withthe understanding they stood ready to fight in the "War onReds." (76)

Miller was a busy writer. His article "The Crisis in theSocialist Party" appeared in New Masses in late July. It reported the internal fight on the SP'Sdirection and whether it should enter a united front with theCommunists. (77) The demands on his time, however, extended beyondwriting. The Harlem branch of the YWCA invited him to speak on"Negro Americans, What Now?" "No speaker has made adeeper or more pleasing impression upon our group," theorganization wrote him after the talk, promising to invite him again inthe Fall. He spoke at a farm with Lester Granger, Ralph Bunche, AbramHarris and Bertram Wolfe on the workers road to freedom. The Harlem LSNRdirected him to write the Deltas for an endorsement of the NationalNegro Congress and he attended an emergency meeting of the Anti-NaziCommission. Miller was directed to send copies of his NewMasses articles to Father Divines Kingdom, a national interracial religiousmovement that had an alliance with the Party. (78) In addition, Millerwas appointed to the Committee on Activities of Chapters of theInterprofessional Association for Social Insurance. He was a member andattended a meeting of the Urban League's National AdvisoryCommittee of the Negro Worker's Councils, chaired by LesterGranger. Miller's life was a constant round of meetings,speeches, committees, writing; the busy life of a popular Communistintellectual. (79)

From July 25th through August 21st the long delayed SeventhWorld Congress of the Communist International opened in Moscow'sPillar Hall. The Seventh Congress, the Comintern's last,announced the new doctrine that all progressive forces should join apopular front to fight fascism and war. This shift reflected the changein the world situation that left communist parties isolated in combatingthe rise of Hitler, Mussolini and other fascists. Over 500 delegatesfrom 76 member parties attended, including delegates from the UnitedStates. (80) The presence of the American delegates outraged the UnitedStates ambassador, who interpreted their participation as a violation ofSoviet pledges of non-interference in U.S. domestic politics made whendiplomatic recognition was extended. (81)

Georgi Dimitrov, spokesperson for the Comintern, told thedelegates that fascism was "the open terrorist dictatorship ofthe most reactionary, most chauvinistic and most imperial elements offinance capital." It was imperative to abandon the sectarian lineof the Third Period and to "strive at the same time both forshort-term and for long-term agreements that provide for joint actionwith Social-Democratic parties, reformist trade unions and otherorganizations of the working people against the class enemies of theproletariat." (82)

The CPUSA adhered to the new line in theory and practice. TheAmerican party had moved already in that direction but the Seventh WorldCongress accelerated the process. The Communist press published theCongress' resolution which emphasized the need to
   overcome in the shortest possible
   time the survivals of sectarian
   traditions which prevented them
   from finding a way of approach to
   Social Democratic workers, and to
   change the methods of agitation
   and propaganda which hitherto were
   at times abstract in character and
   little accessible to the masses ... (83) 

Dimitrov urged Stalin to relax centralized control from Moscowand to allow national parties more flexibility. "Shift theemphasis of the Comintern leadership's work," hepetitioned Stalin,
   to resolving major questions
   of policy and tactics, while
   concentrating our major effort
   on strengthening the leadership
   of sections, so that they can
   solve their political, tactical,
   and organizational problems
   independently, on the basis
   of the Comintern's general
   guidelines, and so that everyday
   administration of the sections can
   systematically shift to the local
   leadership. (Dalin & Firsov 2000) 

Dimitrov criticized the CPUSA for attacks on Roosevelt, the NewDeal, and the unions. Miller's writings at the time enunciatedthe old CPUSA line that Roosevelt, the New Deal and the A.F. of L.leadership were hostile to the interests of workers and blacks. (84) TheCPUSA line evolved when it initially adopted Dimitrov's call toform a Farmer-Labor Party and, when this effort failed, to openlysupport Roosevelt and the New Deal. (85)

Miller's pen furthered the cause, with news reports tothe Sentinel and the column in the Negro Liberator. (86) Francis A. Henson, chairperson of the Conference on Social andEconomic Aspects of the Race Problem, recruited Miller to establish anorganization, separate from the proposed NNC, to replace the NAACP andto edit a new quarterly magazine <I>RACE.</I> Thesediscussions continued through the Fall and the magazine, with Miller asan editor, appeared at the end of the year. The editors agreed"that there is no 'solution' of the so-called'race problem' short of an organized, uncompromisingstruggle based on the mass organizations of black and white workers andpoor farmers and other sections of the population mostinterested." (87)

New Masses was the focus of Miller's work. In mid-August his article onHarlem, the cultural center of African-American life, appeared. In thisarticle he analyzed Harlem's history and current ills:unemployment, housing shortages, chronic illness, and police brutality.He emphasized the role the Communists played, concluding that
   There is still much to be done
   from the Communist viewpoint.
   There is a vast difficulty in
   understanding and adjusting the
   intricate questions that agitate
   Harlem life flowing out of the
   Negro's position as an oppressed
   minority and in relating these
   problems to the wider working-class
   question that underlies them
   all. The struggle is two edged: to
   marshal Negroes for a constant
   struggle and to prevent the
   dissipation of strength on sporadic
   outbursts. (Miller August 1935,13-14) 

Miller wrote book reviews and un-accredited pieces on clashesbetween Negro and Italian residents over the Italo-Ethiopian conflict.(88) He edited outside submissions to the magazine, and his rejection ofa piece sometimes bruised an author's feelings, E.G. Morris, forexample, submitted a story on the South which Miller spurned for itssentimentality. The author wrote him about the rejection without a senseof bitterness, he said, but "what I do object to is yourindictment of sentimentality. When you state that the south I have drawnis that of the old magnolia-blossom Dixie you are telling the truth, forthat is what the south was [...] Cock-eyed as it may seem toyou", he went on, "it smacks more of sentimentality to meto insist that nothing can be written without a proletariat moral, thatsociety can be so sharply divided into classes as 'The badcapitalists', 'the good workers', the dumbbourgeois etc, than it does to realize that in 1880 there were nicewhite people and lousy white people and that most negroes [sic] (withoutdelving into the anthological and economic roots) asked nothing morethan sunshine basking." (89)

On another occasion Miller rejected a story by Sam S. Bakerentitled "Two Niggers." "I hesitated to use theword 'nigger' because I realized that you might object toit. I wished to present a true, factual picture of the incident and thecircumstances surrounding it," a protesting Baker wrote Miller."I happen to be a Negro," Miller replied, "and Iknow the dangers one runs into when one uses the word even ironically.All minority groups are very sensitive and the use of a hated nicknamearouses their ire even when the person using it intends noaffront." Miller then noted that in the story Baker had used thephrase "'the nigger Jim was coming down the road.'There the language was yours and I doubted that it should have beenused. As for its use in the title that too is open to question."Baker could not accept Miller's criticism and wrote againprotesting the refusal. (90)

August ended with the defection of a prominent black memberbecause the Party failed to object to the Soviet Union's sales ofoil and war related materials to Mussolini. Herman W. Mackawain, theLSNR'S former Secretary, resigned, charging that the Partydiscriminated against black members, sold out the Harlem job crusadebecause it feared the reaction of white workers, and failed to criticizethe Soviet Union when it supported Italy in Ethiopia. This was part of alarger critique of the Comintern's failure to organize workers inAfrica, Asia and the West Indies. The Communists denounced Mackawain asa "petit-bourgeois Negro nationalist." (91)

Miller's last piece of the year for NewMasses was a review of a book on opinions of the u.s. Supreme Court. He arguedthat the constitution was "molded to fit socio-economiccircumstances." Miller's review has interest because itreveals a Communist intellectual's state of mind on the SupremeCourt. The document was designed to protect private property."The character of property", he wrote, "has changedtoo since 1787; it has passed through successive stages of individualholdings, simple corporations, monopoly and finally to that intricate,almost mysterious, maze of wealth-holding that we call financecapitalism." (92) The Supreme Court had usurped the power tointerpret the constitution with the connivance of the other branches ofgovernment because the judges were unelected, served for life, and wereimmune from electoral politics. It could defy public sentiment and voidlaws dominant groups disliked. It had turned the Fourteenth Amendment,designed to protect blacks, into a corporate tool to thwart bothregulation and public ownership. In short, he wrote, "theCourt's privilege of vetoing legislation has been used far morefor the protection of property than for the preservation ofliberties." (93) Miller ended the article with the observationthat the Court was susceptible to mass political pressure, quoting theadage "The flag may not follow the constitution but the SupremeCourt follows the election returns." (94)

Miller's stay in New York was the apex of his Communistcareer. He left the Party after the Hitler-Stalin pact in 1939, butremained active in mass organizations such as the NAACP, Urban League,and ACLU. He focused his acute intellectual acumen on constitutionallaw. He lead the fight to successfully end judicial enforcement ofresidential segregation. He carried with him, however, the lessonslearned from the Communist experience, the most important of which wasthe power of organized mass action. This knowledge came with a cost.Miller was pursued, persecuted and penalized by the FBI, and otherpolice agencies, after his break with the Party for his entire life.It's the reason, the author of ThePetitioners, a classic on the u.s. Supreme Court, ended a lowly traffic court judgerather than on an appellate court, like Thurgood Marshall. The last FBIentry in his file was the 1967 obituary.


(1) On Dimitrov's background and the failure of theThird Period policy see the same text pp. 1-12; see also: Ivo Banac,Ed., The Diary of Georgi Dimitrov 1933-1949 (Yale University Press, 2003) xv-xxx.

(2) Letter from Dimitrov to Stalin dated October 6,1934 inDimitrov and Stalin 1934-1943 Letters from the SovietArchives pp. 18.

(3) Harvey Klehr, The Heyday Of AmericanCommunism (Basic Books, Inc, 1984) pp. 167-222.

(4) Western Worker, January 31,1935 pp. 1.

(5) "I.L.D. Wins Hearing on Scottsboro,"Daily Worker, January 8,1935 pp. 1; "Mass Pressure Rescues Two Scottsboro BoysFrom Chair," Western Worker, January 10,1935 pp. 1; "I.L.D. Wins Review For Scottsboro Boysin U.S. Court," Negro Liberator, January 15,1935 pp. 1; "Supreme Court Grants Review ofYouth's Conviction, Death Sentence Thru ILD Attorneys",California Eagle, January 11,1935 pp. 1; See also, James Goodman, Stories ofScottsboro (Vintage Books, 1994) pp. 242-242,395.

(6) "Call for an American Writer'sCongress", New Masses, January 22, 1935 pp. 20. The call was signed by numerous left-wingwriters including Theodore Dreiser, Kenneth Burke, Erskine Caldwell,Langston Hughes and Eugene Gordon. The call began: "Thecapitalist system crumbles so rapidly before our eyes that, whereas tenyears ago scarcely more than a handful of writers were sufficientlyfar-sighted and courageous to take a stand for proletarian revolution,today hundreds of poets, novelists, dramatists, critics, short storywriters and journalists recognize the necessity of personally helping toaccelerate the destruction of capitalism and the establishment of aworker's government." pp 20; On the history ofNew Masses see: Andrew Hemingway, Artists on the Left (Yale University Press, 2002) pp. 8-20.

(7) LMP, Box 26, F2, Letters from Pass to Miller dated January5, 1935, January 14, 1935 and February 2, 1935.

(8) LMP Box 52, F5; On the April invitation was a handwrittennote in the margin: "We understand Harry Carlisle and others arecoming to the Congress by auto. We certainly hope you will come, too. Asyou know, the representation of the Negro intellectuals is still verysmall--although we understand that Sterling Brown and others are coming,besides E. Gordon, E. Clay and L. Hughes." LMP Box 26, F22, April1, 1935 invitation to Miller to attend organizational meeting. Millerdid not attend.

(9) Loren Miller, "Jim-Crow Relief in LosAngeles," Negro Liberator, January 15, 1935 at 3.

(10) Negro Liberator, January 15, 1935 pp. 7; For the NAACP position see: Walter White,A Man Called White (The University of Georgia Press, 1995) 152-156; for the Communistattack see: Mark Soloman, The Cry Was Unity (University Press of Mississippi, 1998) pp. 242-243.

(11) Los Angeles Sentinel, January 24,1935 pp. 1; On Hamid and the Communists see: Mark Naison,Communists in Harlem during the Depression (University of Illinois Press, 1983) pp. 121-122. For a favorableportrait of Hamid see: Claude McKay, "Harlem Runs Wild,"and "Anti-Semitism And The Negro," in Wayne F. Cooper,Editor, The Passion of Claude McKay (Schocken Books, 1973) pp. 240-243, and 258-260 and Claude McKay,Harlem: Negro Metropolis (UMI Out of Print Books on Demand, 1987, originally published by E.P.Dutton & Company, Inc., 1940) pp. 181-262.

(12) Los Angeles City Archives, The Official Minutes of theBoard of Police Commissioners, March 14, 1935; Los Angeles TimesFebruary 1, 1935 pp. 2.

(13) Attorney Thomas L. Griffin was the chapter'spresident. Negro Liberator February 1, 1935 pp.1-2.

(14) "California Justice," New Masses February12, 1935 pp. 7.

(15) Daily Worker February 17, 1935 pp.1; "ItalianConquest of Ethiopia Seen As Difficult Task," Los AngelesSentinel February 28, 1935 pp.1; see also, Negro Liberator February 15,1935 pp.1 and Harry Haywood, Edited by Gwendolyn Midlo Hall, A BlackCommunist In The Freedom Struggle (University of Minnesota Press, 2012)pp.216. On the war see: Angelo Del Boca, The Ethiopian War 1935-1941(The University of Chicago Press, 1969) and Brice Harris, Jr., TheUnited States and the Italo-Ethiopian Crisis (Stanford University Press,1964).

(16) LMP, Box 3, F4, Letters Davis to Miller dated February1,1935. February 12, 1935 and February 18, 1935.

(17) LMP Box 3, F4, undated letter from Miller to Davis.

(18) Loren Miller, "Shadow of Philanthropy" abook review in New Masses February 19, 1935 pp.23-24.

(19) LMP, Box 42, F4, Letter from Eugene Gordon to Miller datedFebruary 4, 1935 and letter from Miller to Joseph North dated February25, 1935.

(20) Negro Liberator February 1,1935 at 2 and February 15, 1935 PP-2; For the Party'sposition on Hearst see: F. Brown, "The Campaign Against Hearstand the Dickstein Committee," PartyOrganizer February, 1935 pp.1.

(21) Los Angeles Sentinel February 7, 1935 pp.1 and February 21, 1935 at 1. See also:"LSNR Representative Urges Enactment of Worker'sBill," Negro Liberator February 15, 1935 pp.2.

(22) F. Brown, "Weld the United Front Through the LowerOrganizations," Party Organizer January, 1935 pp.1.

(23) James W. Ford, "The United Front in the Field ofNegro Work," The Communist, February, 1935 pp.169.

(24) See also, Naison, Communists in Harlem duringthe Depression pp.126-140.

(25) Goodman, Stories of Scottsboro at 242-243; "I LD Gives Up Scottsboro Defense,"California Eagle February 15, 1935 pp.1; "Scottsboro Case Taken Under Advisementby Supreme Court," Los Angeles Sentinel February 28, 1935 pp.1.

(26) The only exception was the Worker's Partyassociated with Leon Trotsky. "Answers To Questions On The UnitedFront," Western Worker February 25, 1935 pp.4.

(27) See also letters from Davis to Miller dated March 6, 1935.In a March 25, 1935 letter Davis wrote Miller: "You have no ideawhat a big hole it leaves in the Crusader News when your article doesnot appear." For the articles see the Los AngelesSentinel March 14, 1935 pp-1. March 21,1935 pp.1 and the NegroLiberator March 15, 1935 pp.2.

(28) LMP, Box 3, F4 Letter from Davis to Miller dated March6,1935; "Toward a Congress For Negro Rights," NegroLiberator March 15, 1935 pp.4 and "Negro LiberatorCampaign," Negro Liberator March 15,1935 at 3. On the failure ofthe LSNR see also: Hall, Editor, A Black Communist In The FreedomStruggle pp.211.

(29) LMP, Box 2, F3 Letter from Brooklyn chapter of LSNR toMiller dated April 30, 1935.

(30) McKay, Harlem: Negro Metropolis (E.P. Dutton & Company, inc.. 1940) pp. 206

(31) Louise Thompson, "What Happened in Harlem,"New Masses, April 2, 1935 pp.15-16; "Police End Harlem Riot; Mayor StartsInquiry; Dodge Sees A Red Plot," The New YorkTimes March 21, 1935 pp.1, 16; Daily Worker March 21, 1935 pp.1; Los Angeles Sentinel March 21, 1935 pp.1.

(32) The New York Times March 21, 1935 at 16; "Police Raid Harlem C.P. Headquarters; NewArrests Made," Daily Worker March 23, 1935 pp. 1.

(33) Robert M. Fogelson & Richard E. Rubenstein, Editors,Mass Violence in America: The Complete Report of MayorLaCuardia's Commission on the Harlem Riot of March 19,1935 (Amo Press & The New York Times, 1969) pp. 7-18; The New Times March 21, 1935 pp. 16; "ForOrganized Struggle Against Oppression Of Negro People,"Daily Worker March 22, 1935 pp. 1; "Harlem Uprising Reveals Misery,"Negro Liberator April 1, 1935 pp. 1; McKay, Harlem: NegroMetropolis at 207-208; Naison, Communists in Harlem during theDepression pp.140-150.

(34) Loren Miller, The Petitioners (The World Publishing Company, Meridian Books, 1966) pp.275;Norris v. Alabama 294 U.S. 587 (1935).

(35) "Scottsboro Victory!" DailyWorker April 2, 1935 pp. 1, "Two Scottsboro Boys Are Saved FromDeath", Western Worker April 4, 1935 pp. 1, "Two U.S. Supreme Court Decisions,"Negro Liberator April 15, 1935 at 1; Los Angeles Sentinel April 4, 1935 pp. 1, California Eagle April 5, 1935 pp. 1 and April 12, 1935 pp. 1.

(36) Miller, The Petitioners pp. 7.

(37) White, A Man Called White pp.130-133; Goodman, Stories of Scottsboro pp. 243-246; Albert P. Blaustein and Robert L. Zangrando, Editors,Civil Rights and the American Negro (Trident Press, 1968) pp. 346-350.

(38) Miller, Negro Liberator April 1, 1935 pp. 5 and 7; LMP Box 3, F4, Letter from Davis to Millerdated April 3, 1935.

(39) Miller, Negro Liberator April 15, 1935 pp. 5; for an excerpt from the play see: George Sklar,"Stevedore" in Granville Hicks, Michael Gold, IsidorSchneider, Joseph North, Paul Peters and Alan Calmer, Editors,Proletarian Literature In The United States (International Publishers, 1935) pp. 298-305.

(40) Los Angeles Sentinel April 11, 1935 PP.1 and April 25, 1935 pp.1.

(41) LMP Box 3, F4, Letter from Davis to Miller onLiberator letterhead dated April 16, 1935; see also: "The'Lib' Drive Is On-Act Quickly," NegroLiberator April 15, 1935 pp.5.

(42) Joseph North, "The New Masses-A Weapon Against War and Fascism," DailyWorker April 20, 1935 pp. 7; Loren Miller, "Mail-Order Dictatorship:The Rosenwalds and the 12,000,000 Negroes," NewMasses April 16, 1935 pp. 10-12.

(43) Ralph J. Bunche Papers UCLA, Box 103, F16; forMiller's copy of the article see LMP, Box 52, F5, and for hiscollection of New Masses magazines Box 52, F2 and F4.

(44) Id., pp. 323; Report to Plenum, "How to Penetratethe Negro Organizations," Party Organizer March, 1935 pp. 20 and Louis Sass, "Harlem Concentration onTransport," Party Organizer March, 1935 pp. 23.

(45) Daily Worker April 25, 1935 pp. 5 and April 30, 1935 pp. 2; "Our FirstCongress of Writers," New Masses April 30, 1935 pp.9.

(46) Daily Worker May 3, 1935 pp. 3; Los Angeles City Archives, City Council File 1886(1935), Letter from Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce to the City Councildated June 3, 1935, City Clerk notice dated June 28.1935 and CityCouncil Petition instructing City Attorney to Draft Ordinance datedJanuary 30,1936; Board of Police Commissioners Minutes June 18,1935.

(47) Los Angeles City Archives, City Council File 1292 (1935),and Board of Police Commissioners Minutes May 7, 1935, June 4, 1935, andJune 17, 1935.

(48) "L.A. Red Squad Is Part of NationalForce-Shaw," Western Worker May 2, 1935 pp. 3.

(49) Los Angeles Sentinel May 2, 1935 pp. 1 and May 16, 1935 pp.1.

(50) LMP, Box 2, F3, Letter from Covington to Miller dated May29, 1935; On Covington's success as executive secretary of theLos Angeles Urban League see: "The Urban League inAction," Opportunity May 1935 pp. 190; see also LMP Box 3, F7, handwritten note from Miller tohis wife dated May 27, 1935.

(51) Negro Liberator May 15, 1935 pp. 5; New Masses May 7, 1935 pp. 7. See also: Franklin Folsom, Days of Anger,Days of Hope (The University Press of Colorado, 1994) Appendix A pp. 307.

(52) Ford and Sass, "Development of Work in the HarlemSection," The Communist April 1935 pp. 320; Ben Davis, "For A Weekly NegroLiberator by July 15," Daily Worker May 29, 1935 pp. 5.

(53) Ralph Bunche Papers UCLA, Box 50, F3, Book 2,"Extended Research Memorandum on the Program, Tactics, andAchievements of Negro Betterment and Interracial Organizations,"pp. 319-320; Raymond Wolters, Negroes And The GreatDepression (Greenwood Publishing Corporation, 1970) pp. no-111, 331, 353-359;James W. Ford, "James W. Ford Hails Proposals For a NationalNegro Congress," Daily Worker May 25, 1935 pp. 5; Lester B. Granger, "The National NegroCongress," Opportunity May 1936 pp. 151.

(54) LMP, Box 3, F7, Letter from Miller to Wife, dated June1935; Box 2, F3, Letter from Floyd Covington to Miller dated August 30,1935; Lester B. Granger, "The Negro-Friend or Foe of OrganizedLabor?", Opportunity May 1935 pp.142-144, and "The Urban League in Action,"Opportunity May 1935 at 158; "Granger, Urban League Secretary, Urges Negroesto Follow Radicals," Daily Worker June 15, 1935 pp. 6; Naison, Communists in Harlem during theDepression at 150;, last visited2/1/2013; "Our Contributors,"Opportunity March 1935 pp. 67.

(55) See Miller's Eagle column for October 30,1931 pp. 8.

(56) LMP, Box 2, F3, Letter from James Baker to Miller datedJune 19, 1935.

(57) "Loren Miller to Be 'New Masses'Editor," Negro Liberator June 151935 pp. 3.

(58) "Miller to Cover Eastern Events,"Los Angeles Sentinel June 13, 1935 pp. 1 and June 27, 1935 pp. 1 and 4.

(59) New Masses June 25, 1935 pp. 5.

(60) Negro Liberator June 1, 1935 pp. 8 and July 1, 1935 pp. 8; Naison, Communistsin Harlem during the Depression at 147.

(61) LMP. Box 3, F7, Letter from Miller to Wife dated June1935; for his column see the Negro Liberator June 15, 1935 PP.5: For the criticism of the LSNR and the push for theNNC see: A.W. Berry, "Building The LSNR," NegroLiberator June 1, 1935 pp. 3, and the issues for June 1, 1935 pp. 2, June 15,1935 at 2, and June 21, 1935 PP.5: Eleanor Ryan, "Toward aNational Negro Congress," New Masses June 4, 1935 pp. 14-15.

(62) On his wife's employment see: LMP, Box 21, FF1,"Biographical Data: Loren Miller" pp. 3.

(63) LMP, Box 2, F3, Letter from Sidney Williams on UrbanLeague of St. Louis letterhead to Miller dated June 14, 1935; theinvitation from the worker institute is in the same folder dated June13, 1935.

(64) LMP, Box 2, F4, Memorandum and resolutions on theTwenty-Sixth Annual Conference, St. Louis, Mo., dated June 18, 1935; Box3, F7, Letter from Miller to Wife dated July, 1935, noting he was justback from St. Louis; "St. Louis Welcomes NAACP.Conference," Crisis, May, 1935 pp.151; Wolters, Negroes And The GreatDepression pp. 302-342.

(65) Loren Miller, "How 'Left' Is theNAACP?" New Masses July 16, 1935 pp. 12; The Davis letter to Miller is found pp. LMP, Box2, F3, dated July 9, 1935.

(66) "How 'Left" Is the NAACP?" pp.12-13; An abridged version of the New Masses article is found pp. Loren Miller, "A Diagnosis of the NAACPConvention," Negro Liberator August 1, 1935 pp. 2.

(67) "Herndon Urges United Fight in Talk at NAACPConvention," Daily Worker June 28, 1935 pp. 1; "U.S. Court Rules Against Herndon,"Daily Worker May 21, 1935 pp. 1, "Denial of Herndon Appeal Stirs New FreedomFight," Western Worker May 30, 1935 pp. 2; "Rehearing Asked in Herndon Case,"Los Angeles Sentinel June 20, 1935 pp. 1; Klehr, The Heyday of AmericanCommunism pp. 333.

(68) LMP, Box 2, F3, Letter from Louis Colman to Miller datedJuly 6, 1935. A review of its index indicates no article by Miller onHerndon appeared in Opportunity in 1935 or 1936.

(69) Negro Liberator July 15, 1935 pp. 5; Los Angeles Sentinel June 20, 1935 pp. 1; LMP, Box 2, F3, Letter and Petition from ILD toMiller dated July, 1935, Letter form Miller to Delta Sigma Theta datedJuly 29, 1935.

(70) James W. Ford, "The United Front onEthiopia," Party Organizer July, 1935 pp. 16-17; Daily Worker June 29, 1935 at 2, July 30, 1935 pp. 4. For Los Angeles see:"Defense Group in Los Angeles to Aid Ethiopia",Daily Worker August 19, 1935 pp. 3.

(71) Los Angeles Sentinel July 11, 1935 pp. 1, July 18, 1935 at 1, and July 25, 1935 pp. 1;"Hands off Ethiopia," New Masses July 23, 1935 pp. 4.

(72) LMP, Box 2, F3, Letter from the CaliforniaNews to Miller dated July 6, 1935.

(73) "Langston Hughes At Civic League SundayAfternoon," California Eagle August 2, 1935 pp. 2.

(74) Los Angeles City Archives, City Council File 4133 (1935).Police Commission Minutes November 19, 1935; "Prison RightsDenied 5 Class War Prisoners," Daily Worker July 5, 1935 pp. 3, "Los Angeles Political Prisoner DeniedRights to Mail Letters; News and Literature Withheld",Daily Worker August 23, 1935 pp. 2, "Los Angeles Delegation to Protest JailTerror", Daily Worker September 3, 1935 pp. 3; LMP, Box 2, F3,Letter from the LSNR's James Garrott to Miller dated July 6,1935.

(75) "Ku Klux Klan Marches When Family Moves Into'White' Neighborhood", CaliforniaEagle July 26, 1935 at 1; The newspaper clipping on Pelley from theUnited Progressive News is found in Los Angeles City Archives, City Council File 4133(1935).

(76) Jay Rand, "Hitlerites in Hollywood,"New Masses July 23. 1935 PP.29-30; "Los Angeles Crime War GainsTold," Los Angeles Times June 19, 1935 pp.12.

(77) Loren Miller, "The Crisis in the SocialistParty," New Masses July 30, 1935 pp. 11; Negro Liberator July 1, 1935 pp. 5.

(78) LMP, Box 2, F3, Invitation to Speak to YWCA dated July5-1935. Miller acceptance letter dated July 6, 1935, Letter from YWCA toMiller re impression he made dated August 5, 1935; Flyer dated July 28,1935 on Miller's speech on the worker's road to freedomwith Granger and others; Letter from A.W. Beny, Secretary LSNR to Millerre letter to Deltas dated July 31, 1935, Miller sent the letter to RuthWebster Los Angeles chapter of Delta Sigma Theta on August 1, 1935; Thenotice of the Anti-Nazi Commission meeting is dated July 29, 1935; theletter to Miller re Father Devine is dated July 29, 1935; On FatherDevine and the CPUSA see: McKay, Harlem: NegroMetropolis pp. 52-53.

(79) LMP, Box 2, F4, Letter from the InterprofessionalAssociation for Social Insurance to Miller dated July 13.1935; Box 54,F1, Minutes of the National Advisory Committee of the NegroWorkers' Councils meeting dated July 22, 1935. The six present,including Henry Moon, discussed the Worker's Councils chaptersand endorsed the National Negro Congress.

(80) LMP, BoE. H. Carr, Twilight Of TheComintern, 1930-1935 (Pantheon Books, 1982) pp. 403-427; Klehr, TheHeyday of American Communism pp. 167-172; Hall, Editor, A Black Communist In The FreedomStruggle pp. 216.

(81) Beatrice Farnsworth, William C. Bullitt And TheSoviet Union (Indiana University Press, 1967) pp. 143-150.

(82) Georgi Dimitrov, For the Unity Of The WorkingClass Against Fascism (Sofia Press, 1969) pp. 8 and 32; for biographical data on Dimitrovsee: Banac, The Diary of Georgi Dimitrov pp.xv-xxix.

(83) "Resolution Adopted By the Seventh Congress of theCommunist International Now Meeting in Moscow," WesternWorker August 8, 1935 pp. 1, "Comintern Outlines Program For WorkingClass Struggle," Western Worker August 8, 1935 pp. 1; Daily Worker August 22, 1935 pp. 1.

(84) For Dimitrov see: For Unity Of The Working ClassAgainst Fascism at 53-58,90; For Miller: Negro Liberator July 1, 1935 pp.5, and Augusti, 1935 pp.5, and the news report in the Los AngelesSentinel, "League Assails Appointment of Hugh S. Johnson" July 4,1935 pp. 1; for the CPUSA line see: "Tasks of theCommunists", Party Organizer August 1935 pp. 32.

(85) Dimitrov, For Unity Of The Working Class AgainstFascism pp. 37-38; Earl Browder, What Is Communism? (Workers Library Publishers, 1936) pp.89-99; Klehr, TheHeyday of American Communism pp.207-222.

(86) Los Angeles Sentinel August 1, 1935 pp. 1, August 8, 1935 pp.1, August 15, 1935 pp. 1, andAugust 22, 1935 pp. 1; Negro Liberator August 15, 1935 pp.5.

(87) Conference On Social And Economic Aspects Of The RaceProblem, Race, Vol. 1 No. 1, Winter 1935-1936 (Negro Universities Press,1970) pp. 3; For the correspondence between Miller and Henson see: LMP,Box 2, F3, Letter from Francis A. Henson to Miller dated June 17, 1935,Henson to Miller dated August 10, 1935. Undated letter from Miller toHenson on New Masses letterhead, Letter from Henson to Miller dated September 21, 1935,Letter from Henson to Miller dated October 1, 1935, Letter Miller toHenson dated October 16, 1935, and Letter from Henson to Miller datedOctober 18, 1935.

(88) New Masses August 20, 1935 pp. 5 and 26.

(89) LMP, Box 2, F3, Letter from E.G. Morris to"Miss" Miller dated August 21, 1935.

(90) LMP, Box 2, F4, Letter from Sam S. Baker to Miller datedAugust 14, 1935, Letter from Miller to Baker dated August 20, 1935 andletter from Baker to Miller dated August 23, 1935.

(91) LMP, Box 54, F1, newspaper clipping "Leader QuitsFlays Soviets" dated August 17, 1935; McKay, Harlem:Negro Metropolis pp. 226-227; Joseph E. Ham's, African-AmericanReactions To War In Ethiopia 1936-1941 (Louisiana State University Press, 1994) pp. 157; Klehr,The Heyday of American Communism pp. 342-343.

(92) Loren Miller, "May It Please the Court,"New Masses December 3, 1935 pp. 23. The book he reviewed was HistoricOpinions Of the United States Supreme Court (The Vanguard Press, 1935) by Ambrose Doskow.

(93) Miller, "May It Please the Court" pp.29.

(94) Id., pp. 30.

An excerpt by WALTER L. GORDON III
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Author:Gordon, Walter Lear, III
Publication:Black Renaissance/Renaissance Noire
Article Type:Essay
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 22, 2014
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