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14 The ‘Negro Question’ to the Fourth Comintern Congress

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Chapter Summary

During the Great Depression, the Communist Party became known for battling anti-black racism and discrimination. 'However one judges their motives', one historian wrote, 'Communists were often at the front in the battle for black rights'. In the South, Communists organised black and white workers and sharecroppers, and fought against Jim Crow racism and capitalist oppression. Communists fought against the frame-up of the Scottsboro youths, exposing Jim Crow 'lynch law justice'. The party's approach to what it called the 'Negro question' during its first decade would not indicate the likelihood of such a development. The Comintern established a Negro Commission at its Third Congress in 1921 to deal with the Negro question in different countries. The Negro Commission at the Fourth Congress made clear that fighting black oppression must be a key task of Communists in the US since 'The Negro problem has become a vital question of the world revolution'.

Keywords: anti-black racism; Communist Party; Fourth Congress; Jim Crow; Negro question

10.1163/9789004268890_016
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