Chapter 6 = FBI vs JBS on Civil Rights Movement
Chapter 7 = FBI vs JBS on Persons JBS Claims To Be “Experts” on Communism
FBI VS. JBS ON CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT
JBS on Communist Civil Rights Strategy – “Negro Soviet Republic” and
Alan Stang’s 1965 book, It’s Very Simple: The True Story of Civil Rights and
Highlander Folk School as a “Communist Training School” and
Gary Allen’s article on August 1965 Watts Riots entitled, “The Plan To Burn Los Angeles” and
The Birch Society on African-American Labor Leader, A. Philip Randolph
Control and domination of the civil rights movement by subversive elements is a constant theme in JBS literature during the 1960’s.
According to Robert Welch in “The Time Has Come”, a 1964 JBS pamphlet, the Communist civil rights strategy since 1928 was to stir up racial bitterness and rioting while promising “to convert the Dixie states into a Negro Soviet Republic…” This theme was echoed in a Birch Society national newspaper ad from August 1965 captioned “What’s Wrong With Civil Rights?” and it also was repeated by other JBS-recommended sources such as Dan Smoot and Alan Stang.
According to Dan Smoot:
“In 1928, Joseph Stalin gave specific directions: the communist goal was to confiscate the property of all whites in the `black-belt’ region of the American southern States, detach the region from the Union, and establish it as a Negro Soviet Republic. This communist objective has never been altered.” (Dan Smoot Report, 2/22/65, page 57; my emphasis in red type)
Alan Stang devoted chapter 3 of his 1965 JBS-published book, It’s Very Simple: The True Story of Civil Rights, to discussion of this “strategy”. [See “The Communist Position on the Negro Question”, pages 28-37]
By contrast, J. Edgar Hoover pointed out in his January 1960 testimony before the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee that the 17th National Convention of the Communist Party USA held in New York City on December 10, 1959 had discarded that position:
“The Negro resolution adopted by the convention discarded the party’s historic position advocating ‘self-determination’ meaning that Negroes should be given the right to form a separate nation in the Southern States…The 1959 convention resolution hence represents a party admission that its position concerning Negroes is bankrupt. Time itself has shown that the party is not interested in the welfare of the Negro, but only in using him as a tool to advance party interests.” [J. Edgar Hoover: An Analysis of the 17th National Convention of the Communist Party USA; Statement made to Senate Internal Security Subcommittee, 1/17/60, page 7; Also see: FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, March 1960 – for same comment.]
In August 1963, the FBI prepared a comprehensive 76-page summary regarding Communist strategy with respect to our civil rights movement. I copy below the pertinent section regarding the Communist strategy regarding “self-determination”
“By this theory of ‘self-determination’, communists meant that in many counties of the southern states Negroes composed a majority of the population and, as a separate race, they constituted a nation with the right, if they so desired, to secede from the United States and form their own nation and government. This concept was adhered to and developed by the CPUSA for nearly 30 years…The policy of ‘self-determination’ was questioned more and more in Party circles following Stalin’s death in March, 1953. In December, 1958, some members pointed out that the Party, through its adherence to such a position, was in effect advocating the segregation of Negroes from the rest of the population. Members of the Party’s National Committee recommended that the policy of ‘self-determination’ be modified or abandoned. However, they did not dare make a change without Soviet approval. As a consequence, in February 1959, James Jackson, a top leader of the CPUSA and a delegate to the 21st Congress of the CP of the Soviet Union in Moscow, presented the proposed change to the Soviets for their endorsement. Upon his return to this country, Jackson reported to Party leaders that the Soviets had approved discontinuing the policy of ‘self-determination’. In December 1959, the CPUSA, at its 17th National Convention, adopted a resolution which brought an end to the 30-year-old policy of ‘self-determination’. The resolution replaced it with a call for equality for the Negro throughout the United States in all phases of political, social, and economic life—in other words, full and complete integration.” [HQ 100-3-116, #253X = 8/23/63 FBI monograph “Communist Party USA—Negro Question”, page 5-6]. See images below.
Even the KKK newspaper, The Fiery Cross, recognized this change of Communist strategy!
“With the CPUSA steadily declining in open membership, the official doctrine was changed from creating a separate Negro state in the U.S. to one of full integration. (Ben) Davis [National Secretary CPUSA] had argued for this change in order to obtain maximum Negro support. The party line change became official in 1959.” [The Fiery Cross, “Communist Exploitation of the U.S. Racial Crisis“, August 1964, page 1]
Furthermore, this change of Communist strategy was confirmed by FBI informants who subsequently testified before the House Committee on Un-American Activities—including Lola Belle Holmes—a JBS member who had infiltrated the CPUSA for the FBI!
Lola Belle Holmes testified about the internal CP dispute at its 17th National Convention in New York City over a document entitled “Theoretical Aspects of the Negro Question In the United States“.
Lola told the House Committee on Un-American Activities that:
“This document was a very controversial document and the theoretical aspect of the Negro question was a very controversial question. It took up more time in the national convention than any other question because the CP does not fight for equal rights of Negroes; only in theory; it is not especially interested in the Negro problems; it does not want to solve the Negro problems. Therefore, it was a problem to get the Communist Party to act on a Negro resolution supporting the civil rights movement, that is, integration for Negroes. The Communist Party, when I went into the Party in 1957…advocated Negro nationalism, and a separate State for the Negroes, self-determination, and we fought to get the Communist Party to do away with Negro nationalism and fight for integration.” [Communist Activities in the Chicago IL area, Part 1; Hearings Before the Committee on Un-American Activities, May 25, 1965, page 360.]
In the June 1965 JBS Bulletin, Mr. Welch observed: “Our task must be simply to make clear that the movement known as ‘civil rights’ is Communist-plotted, Communist-controlled, and in fact…serves only Communist purposes.”
In August 1965, the JBS ran a full-page ad in many U.S. newspapers entitled “What’s Wrong With Civil Rights?” One of the answers provided by the JBS was:
“For the civil rights movement in the United States with all of its growing agitation and riots and bitterness, and insidious steps toward the appearance of civil war, has not been infiltrated by the Communists, as you now frequently hear. It has been deliberately and almost wholly created by the Communists patiently building up to this present stage for more than thirty years.” [HQ 62-104401, serial #2621, 8/31/65 airtel from SAC Birmingham to J. Edgar Hoover with attachment of ad from Sunday 8/29/65 Birmingham AL News.]
In the November 1966 JBS Bulletin, Robert Welch declared:
“We have said many times, and we repeat now, that if you can fully expose the civil rights fraud, you will break the back of the Communist conspiracy. But the word ‘fully’ is important in that sentence. It calls for bringing a preponderant majority of our fellow citizens really to grasp the fact that the ‘civil rights’ program has been designed by Communists, is controlled by Communists, and will be used by the Communists as a vital part of their total strategy for taking over our country.”
In the November 1965 JBS Bulletin, Mr. Welch strongly recommended Alan Stang’s book entitled It’s Very Simple: The True Story of Civil Rights because, in Welch’s words, “It gives the whole picture of the ‘civil rights’ development, as a part of Communist strategy, more completely and convincingly than anything else available.”
Again, in May 1966, Mr. Welch used the JBS Bulletin to heap praise upon Stang’s book:
“This book, because of its thoroughness, its comprehensive coverage of the whole ‘civil rights‘ story, and its meticulous documentation, is the best single searchlight we have for exposing the ‘civil rights’ fraud.”
According to Alan Stang, the “civil rights movement was not only planned by the Communists, but was begun, is staffed, and is conducted by the Communists—and has only one real purpose: the destruction and communization of America.”
In May 1965, the Special Agent in Charge of the Boston FBI Field Office forwarded proof sheets of the Stang book to FBI Headquarters, two months before its scheduled publication. An evaluation of the book was prepared for Assistant Director W.C. Sullivan by F.J. Baumgardner:
“It’s Very Simple is an attempt to rationalize today’s civil rights movement in this country as primarily a communist operation…Practically all his documentation is to public source material and there is no significant information in the book which appears to be new and previously unknown to the Bureau. Stang makes frequent use of literary license and importantly fails to include documentation for key passages (examples appear on pages 101 and 185). An entire chapter (14) is devoted to an attack on civil rights legislation and the book, in general, is critical of all Administration and other efforts aimed at improving the lot of the Negro.” [HQ 100-106670-1412, May 28, 1965, and 100-106670-1525, June 24, 1965, both F.J. Baumgardner to W.C. Sullivan].
The concluding “Observations” paragraph states:
“The details of the book do not support the strong conclusions reached by the author. We have had available to us all the material which Stang has plus considerable additional data from our investigations and we could not arrive at such conclusions. The impression is received that Stang may have well started with his conclusions and then developed the information and manner of presentation which he hoped would prove his point. This work must be viewed in the light of the author’s apparent close connections with Robert Welch and the John Birch Society.” [Ibid]
ALAN STANG RESEARCH HABITS
At this point some context about Alan Stang’s research habits might be appropriate to supplement the FBI’s evaluation.
Alan Stang authored the American Opinion magazine article that resulted in an historic precedent-setting libel lawsuit by Chicago lawyer Elmer Gertz against Robert Welch, Inc. [The article by Stang was entitled, “Frame-Up-Richard Nuccio and the War on Police” which was published in the April 1969 issue of the Birch Society monthly magazine, American Opinion. Richard Nuccio was a Birch Society member and section leader — and his family later harshly criticized the JBS for what they claimed was its lack of proper support.]
Two juries on two separate occasions found the Alan Stang article to be libelous and the second jury awarded Gertz $300,000 in punitive damages in addition to $100,000 compensatory damages. Ultimately, the Gertz matter wound up being heard before the U.S. Supreme Court.
During the Oral Arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court on 11/14/73, the Birch Society was represented by Clyde J. Watts (a JBS National Council member).
During the oral arguments, Clyde Watts was asked by a Justice:
“I understand Counsel brought a petition to say that it had been conceded at the trial that the article was libelous – do you deny that?”
Watts observed that he did not think the article was libelous but he acknowledged that during the original trial
At 35:04 = “It was conceded that some of the remarks in the article were false.”
At 36:01 = Watts admits that:
“Under Illinois law, the inference and impact of the article, absent the New York Times concept, would be libelous in Illinois. I think the Court is accurate in that observation.”
The Birch Society’s defense was not that their article was truthful and accurate! Instead, the JBS wanted the Supreme Court to allow the JBS to claim the protection of the then-prevailing so-called “New York Times standard” with respect to discussion of “public figures”. As Watts confirmed above, absent the protection of the New York Times standard, the article was FALSE and LIBELOUS.
On 6/25/74, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Lewis F. Powell delivered the U.S. Supreme Court decision [docket number 72-617] which pertained to the appeal of the first Gertz trial verdict.
Justice Powell stated that this case “involves a libel action by a reputable attorney against a magazine that falsely libeled him ‘a Leninist‘ and a ‘Communist-fronter‘.”
Finally, just for clarification:
The Gertz trial jury was not permitted to award punitive damages for libel unless there was a showing of “malice” which in legalese is “reckless disregard for the truth”. Gertz was able to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the jury, an Appeals Court, and the Supreme Court that such punitive damages were applicable.
The 1982 Appeals Court decision made the following comments about Scott Stanley Jr. (editor of American Opinion) and Alan Stang (the author of the defamatory article about Gertz).
“In summary, Stanley conceived of a story line; solicited Stang, a writer with a known and unreasonable propensity to label persons or organizations as Communist, to write the article; and after the article was submitted, made virtually no effort to check the validity of statements that were defamatory per se of Gertz, and in fact added further defamatory material based on Stang’s ‘facts’. There was more than enough evidence for the jury to conclude that this article was published with utter disregard for the truth or falsity of the statements contained in the article about Gertz.” [U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, No. 81-2483, Elmer Gertz v. Robert Welch, Inc., 6/16/82, page 20].
There is also a footnote appended to this paragraph in which the Appeals Court observed that:
“Furthermore, Stang’s conduct in investigating and researching the article also is evidence of actual malice.”…
Copied below is an excerpt from the Supreme Court decision. “Petitioner” refers to Gertz.
“According to the article, the police file on petitioner took ‘a big, Irish cop to lift.’ The article stated that petitioner had been an official of the ‘Marxist League for Industrial Democracy, originally known as the Intercollegiate Socialist Society, which has advocated the violent seizure of our government.’ It labeled Gertz a ‘Leninist’ and a ‘Communist-fronter.’ It also stated that Gertz had been an officer of the National Lawyers Guild, described as a Communist organization that ‘probably did more than any other outfit to plan the Communist attack on the Chicago police during the 1968 Democratic Convention.’
These statements contained serious inaccuracies. The implication that petitioner had a criminal record was false. Petitioner had been a member and officer of the National Lawyers Guild some 15 years earlier, but there was no evidence that he or that organization had taken any part in planning the 1968 demonstrations in Chicago. There was also no basis for the charge that petitioner was a ‘Leninist’ or a ‘Communist-fronter.’ And he had never been a member of the ‘Marxist League for Industrial Democracy’ or the ‘Intercollegiate Socialist Society.'”
See 1974 Supreme Court Decision at:
Additional Appeals Court comments from 1972 and 1982 are copied below:
7th Circuit Court of Appeals:
August 1, 1972; 471 F.2d 801
“Plaintiff [Gertz] is a reputable lawyer. Defendant [Robert Welch, Inc.] published an article describing him as a “Communist-fronter,” “Leninist,” and participant in various “Marxist” and “Red” activities. The author of the article [Stang] is not a party and did not testify. We assume, without deciding, that, as the district court held, the article was libelous per se as a matter of Illinois law and that its author was either deliberately or recklessly mendacious.”
“In December, 1968, Stanley requested Stang to prepare an article on the murder trial of a Chicago police officer named Nuccio. Stang accepted, came to Chicago to make an investigation, consulted with Stanley over the long distance telephone a few times, and submitted his completed draft on February 18, 1969, in time for inclusion in the April edition which was scheduled for distribution in early March. Stanley made no effort to verify the accuracy of anything said in Stang’s article. Based on statements in the text, Stanley drafted an introductory comment and captions for illustrations. Before the article was conceived, Stanley, whose office is in Boston, had never heard of the plaintiff.”
“About 42,000 copies of the magazine were distributed nationally and about 86,000 reprints were printed, of which about 5,000 were sold or given away in Illinois.”
“Ruling on various pretrial motions, the district court held as a matter of law that the publication was libelous per se, and that applicability of the New York Times standard depended on issues of fact that could not be resolved on summary judgment.
“At the trial plaintiff established that defendant had made no independent verification of any of the statements in Stang’s article, that critical comments about plaintiff were false and unsupported, and that plaintiff was a well known and well regarded member of the Illinois bar. Defendant sought to prove that it was justified, on the basis of past experience, in assuming, without checking before publishing it, that Stang’s article was accurate. Defendant also offered to prove that it did in good faith seek to verify the statements about plaintiff after the suit was filed, but the court sustained plaintiff’s objection to the relevance of this testimony.”
From June 16, 1982, 7th Circuit Court of Appeals:
“In April, 1969, shortly after Nuccio’s initial conviction, an article appeared in American Opinion entitled “Frame-Up-Richard Nuccio and the War on Police.” American Opinion is a monthly magazine published by defendant Robert Welch, Inc. (“Welch”), a Massachusetts corporation which is an affiliate of the John Birch Society. The article alleged that Nuccio was being “railroaded” as part of a Communist conspiracy to undermine local police so as to pave the way for a national police force which would support and enforce a Communist dictatorship.
The article named Gertz as one of the members of this conspiracy. He was identified as the lawyer for the Nelson family and one of the leaders of the “attack on Nuccio.” Gertz was described as a “Communist-fronter,” a “Leninist,” and a “Marxist.”
The assertion that Gertz was a Communist or part of a Communist conspiracy was false. Many of the other statements concerning his membership in particular organizations also were false.
After a six-day trial, the jury found in favor of Gertz and awarded compensatory damages of $100,000 and punitive damages of $300,000. It is from this judgment that Welch appeals. …
“Furthermore, Stang’s conduct in investigating and researching the article also is evidence of actual malice. Stang’s conduct is attributable to Welch because of the agency relationship between them. Stang was solicited to write this specific article, was given the story line and background material, was reimbursed for his expenses, and kept in contact with Stanley during the preparation of the article. These facts, particularly the significant control exercised by Stanley over the content and focus of the article, are sufficient to establish an agency relationship. See City of Evanston v. Piotrowicz, 20 Ill.2d 512, 518-19, 170 N.E.2d 569, 573 (1960); Johnston v. Suckow, 55 Ill.App.3d 277, 280, 12 Ill.Dec. 846, 849, 370 N.E.2d 650, 653 (1977); Reith v. Gen. Tel. Co., 22 Ill.App.3d 337, 339, 317 N.E.2d 369, 372 (1974). The implications of that relationship are that the acts of the agent are attributable to the principal. Gomien v. Wear-Ever Aluminum, Inc., 50 Ill.2d 19, 21, 276 N.E.2d 336, 338 (1971); Windsor Lake, Inc. v. WROK, 94 Ill.App.2d 403, 410, 236 N.E.2d 913, 917 (1968)
Stang’s research for this article was akin to the ‘slipshod and sketchy investigatory techniques’ condemned in Curtis Publishing Co. v. Butts, 388 U.S. 130, 169-70, 87 S.Ct. 1975, 1998-1999, 18 L.Ed.2d 1094 (1967) (Warren, C. J., concurring).
Stang visited Chicago twice to research the article. None of the persons he interviewed told him that Gertz had been involved in the criminal prosecution of Nuccio. He did not interview any of the lawyers involved in the criminal or civil actions against Nuccio. He read the transcript of Nuccio’s criminal trial and looked at the pleadings filed in the civil case, which had the names of Gertz and Ralla Klepak on them. He also talked to an unnamed Chicago police officer who gave him notes taken from Gertz’s police intelligence file. Stang admitted at trial, however, that he had no knowledge of the source of the information in the files or whether the information was accurate. Stang also testified that he consulted government documents about the organizations listed in Gertz’s police intelligence file. This was not an exhaustive search of government records, but rather a selective use of particular reports of certain congressional committees published twenty to thirty years earlier. The only facts verified in these reports were Gertz’s membership in the National Lawyers’ Guild to 1950, and that the Guild had been identified as a Communist-front organization. Stang made no effort to find out if Gertz was still a member of the Guild, nor did he attempt to contact or interview Gertz.”
BIRCH SOCIETY ON 1965 WATTS RIOTS
Another example of how the Birch Society circulated false and inflammatory information can be found in an article appearing in the May 1967 JBS magazine, American Opinion, by one of its most prolific writers, Gary Allen. The article was entitled “The Plan To Burn Los Angeles”. A reprint of this article was often sold on literature tables at JBS-sponsored events such as JBS speakers appearing under the auspices of the JBS-front group, Truth About Civil Turmoil.
Gary Allen claimed in his article that a group of “40-50 Negroes sent by the Communists into the Los Angeles area from all over the United States” was known to the Los Angeles Police Department as “The Organization”. According to Allen, this group was “a board of revolutionary strategy” which “planned, engineered, and instigated the Watts rebellion…” in August 1965. Allen further stated that, “It was this team of highly trained Communists – The Organization – which planned and directed what happened in Watts.”
By contrast, investigative reporters for the Los Angeles Times contacted the Los Angeles Police Department Intelligence Division for comment. Its senior officer, Harold E. Yarnell Jr. stated that the Allen report was false. [See Los Angeles Times, 4/28/67, part II, pA6, “Watts Riot As Rehearsal For Red Coup Discounted”.]
The following excerpt from the L.A. Times article pertains to comments made by Gary Allen:
“Police Chief Tom Reddin has disputed a John Birch Society magazine article citing unnamed police as authority that the 1965 Watts riot was a rehearsal for a nationwide Communist revolution to be touched off by total burning of Los Angeles. ‘The facts as stated in the article are not based on information in our files’ Reddin said. ‘We do not reach the same conclusions the writer does. We do not make the same reading’…Allen writes that his information came from Los Angeles police officers, and particularly the intelligence division of the Police Department.
‘We have investigated to determine whom he may have talked to’ Reddin said. ‘It was nobody in a position of authority—not I, the intelligence captain nor the former police chief (the late William H. Parker).’
Reddin conceded the writer may have talked to ‘someone at the working level’. But Captain Harold E. Yarnell, Jr., head of the intelligence division, said an investigation failed to turn up any officer to whom the writer had talked. ‘If we had such information, we wouldn’t talk to a writer’ Yarnell pointed out. Yarnell said the article ‘attempts to recite some history we believe is not based on fact’, and then attempts to recite a major plot in the making. ‘It is not our position that the August 1965 riot was Communist-inspired’ he said. ‘We have never been able to isolate any group as being the motivating forces or manipulators’. …
Said Yarnell: ‘We haven’t been able to establish that any organization had anything to do with it. Three or four groups wanted to take credit. But when someone seriously became interested in talking to them about it, they backed down. I’m sure the Communist Party is gleefully watching every bit of dissension. But they haven’t gone out in front’.
The article specifically mentions reports that during the rioting, men wearing red armbands and speaking through bullhorns gave directions to the mobs. Yarnell said thorough investigation has failed to substantiate such reports.
The article also claims the rioters used stolen loot to build up an arsenal of weapons to be employed in the forthcoming major Communist revolution. ‘The only arsenals we’ve found have been those of paramilitary right-wing groups’ Yarnell said.
Furthermore, the 12/65 McCone Commission Report on the Watts riot concluded that no outside agents were responsible for the riot.
“After a thorough examination, the Commission has concluded that there is no reliable evidence of outside leadership or pre-established plans for the rioting. The testimony of law enforcement agencies and their respective intelligence officers supports this conclusion. The Attorney General, the District Attorney, and the Los Angeles police have all reached the conclusion that there is no evidence of a pre-plan or a pre-established central direction of the rioting activities. This finding was submitted to the Grand Jury by the District Attorney.”
LOS ANGELES FBI FIELD OFFICE FILE
“COMMUNISM IN RACIAL MATTERS”
The FBI’s Los Angeles field office file entitled “Communism in Racial Matters” contains the following pertinent details and observations:
J. Edgar Hoover to Los Angeles Special-Agent-in-Charge
“Concerning the rioting which has been taking place in a Negro section of Los Angeles the past two days, by return airtel…advise whether or not there have been any indications of subversive involvement. You should also canvas informants in the security field to determine whether or not any subversives are involved and what the attitude is of subversive groups relative to these riots.” [Los Angeles file 100-66078, serial #305 (8/13/65 airtel J. Edgar Hoover to SAC Los Angeles]
Los Angeles Reply to Hoover
“Close contact has been maintained with informants in the security field, particularly those who are in the Communist Party (CP) since the outset of the rioting which started on the night of 8/11/65, and to date, there is no indication of subversive involvement or direction in the rioting or that the CP intends to participate in any way.”
“[Name deleted] advised on 8/13/65, that at a meeting of section organizers, Southern California District Communist Party (SCDCP) held on the evening of 8/13/65, [name deleted] SCDCP, instructed those present to stay away from the riot area and that the SCDCP would take no action until things had calmed down, at which time “they” would know how to proceed. Two Negro CP members present at this meeting were specifically instructed by [name deleted] to stay out of the riot area.”
“Close contact has been maintained with [name deleted], a CP member who lives in the Watts area, where the rioting is centered and this informant knows of no CP involvement in the rioting and has received no instructions from the CP.”
“[Name deleted], a CP Club in the Moranda Smith Section, SCDCP, has been in continuous daily contact since the rioting began. This informant has personally been in the riot areas and mingled with the rioters and has furnished information about the intentions of some of the rioters which has been promptly passed on to the Los Angeles Police Department and interested military agencies. This informant has stated that there has been no domination, direction, or involvement by the CP in the rioting. [Name deleted] a long-time CP functionary who belongs to a CP section covering part of the area of the rioting and who is employed in the general vicinity of the riot area, has been alerted since the outset of the rioting and this informant knows of no domination, direction or involvement by the CP in the rioting.”
“[Name deleted – but identified as security informant], advised on the night of 8/13/65, that the Muslim leadership in Los Angeles has issued instructions to their membership not to get involved in the rioting and to keep out of trouble…”
“Racial sources have been contacted concerning the rioting and none of them have any information that the CP is involved in any way in the rioting.” [Los Angeles 100-66078, #366 (8/14/65 airtel SAC Los Angeles to J. Edgar Hoover.]
Los Angeles 100-66078, #387 (8/27/65 SAC Los Angeles to J. Edgar Hoover) summarizes “reliable” informant report of 8/24/65 concerning a meeting of the Southern California District Communist Party leadership:
“[Name deleted] also advised on 8/24/65 that at a meeting of the SCDCP Negro Commission held on 8/18/65, the Los Angeles riots were discussed and it was agreed that with the attitude of the Los Angeles Police Department following the riots there would probably be a bigger flare up in the near future. [Name deleted] said that the riots which were of a class nature rather than a race nature were not channeled in any way but were spontaneous. After the first two days, however, a number of gangs moved in and it became obvious that the local criminal element had taken over…” …
“Los Angeles has canvassed logical CI, PCI, PSI and SI’s concerning this matter. These sources had no additional information which would indicate that subversives were involved in the recent Los Angeles riots.” [The abbreviations refer to various categories of informants used by the FBI.]
“Los Angeles has no additional pertinent information concerning the involvement of subversive elements in the riots in Watts and South Los Angeles during the period August 11-15, 1965. A canvass of logical criminal and security informants and racial sources has been completed and no additional information has been obtained.” [Los Angeles 100-66078, #390 (9/6/65 SAC Los Angeles to J. Edgar Hoover.]
With respect to the larger issue raised by Gary Allen and the JBS – namely the extent and scope of CPUSA involvement within civil rights organizations in the Los Angeles area, the following lengthy February 1965 FBI-Los Angeles report provides pertinent details and I quote from it:
FBI Los Angeles file 100-66078, serial #88, 2/3/65
Pg 5: Discusses 10/5/64 meeting of Communist Party West Adams Club of Moranda Smith Section. The club discussed recent speech by “Henry Winston, a national functionary of the CPUSA…The club noted that the affair was poorly attended by Negroes and discussion was had on why it was impossible to get Negroes to attend affairs sponsored by the CP. No one could offer an acceptable reason, but the consensus was that the CP was not attractive to the Negro and did not present a program which could help the civil rights struggle as much as the present day Negro organizations and churches.”
Pg 7: “The sources who are familiar with CP plans and activities on all levels of the Southern California District of the Communist Party (SCDCP) in the Los Angeles area, advised that for a number of years to the present time the SCDCP has on numerous occasions at all levels of the organization discussed the racial situation in the general Los Angeles area and has put forward proposals, made resolutions and/or suggested plans of action.”
Pg 8: “However, none of these plans have been put into effect and at top level meetings of the SCDCP in recent months the district leaders have frankly admitted that the District and the CPUSA in general have been unable to provide any leadership and have been generally ineffective in the civil rights struggle and the Negro freedom movement. These leaders further recognize that the SCDCP and the CPUSA are still without any effective plan that may be implemented to gain for the CP a leadership position in the movement.”
(Informant name deleted but described as someone “in her position within the SCDCP”) “also advised that the SCDCP has very little influence as an organization on the civil rights movement…The recent success according to (name deleted) of the SCDCP in recruiting young people into the CP has not extended to members of the Negro race, with a few exceptions, and this is due primarily to the fact that the appeal of the CP program has been to young intellectuals and there are but few Negroes in this category who find any merit in CP theory.”
Pg 16 on NAACP: “The Los Angeles Branch, NAACP, is the dominant and most active branch of the NAACP in the southern California area. The SCDCP has no current program to infiltrate or attempt to gain domination of the Los Angeles Branch, NAACP. (Informant name deleted) further informed that the SCDCP has no current program to infiltrate or attempt to gain domination of any other NAACP branch in the Southern California area.”
Incidentally, in the summer of 1961, the Los Angeles FBI office reported on the makeup of the Communist Party in the southern California District:
“An analysis of the composition of the general membership of the Southern California District to date indicates there are 50 negroes who are current active CP members, regularly attending CP meetings and generally contributing to the programs of the CP. Of these, 22 are informants of the Los Angeles office.” [Los Angeles file 100-54554, serial #780; 7/3/61 SAC Los Angeles to J. Edgar Hoover.]
Overall, the FBI had 433 live informants within the Communist Party USA. [HQ 67-149000-1-161x3x1; 11/30/1960 Inspection Report on Domestic Intelligence Division, by John F. Malone, page 4; copy of report in personnel file of Assistant Director, Alan H. Belmont.]
JOHN BIRCH SOCIETY ON A. PHILIP RANDOLPH
The Birch Society’s evaluation of African American labor leader A. Philip Randolph’s career may be gleaned from its lengthy litany of Randolph’s alleged “affiliations” with organizations and causes which the JBS describes as “subversive and Communist” or “Communist front”.
Randolph is but one of about 1200 people and organizations discussed in a 4-volume book series which the Birch Society published under the title Biographical Dictionary of the Left.
The concluding sentence of the JBS summary about Randolph epitomizes the manner in which the JBS slimes the reputation and character of people through malicious and sinister innuendo:
“Randolph learned his lessons well as he rubbed elbows with Communists over the past three decades.” [Francis X. Gannon, Biographical Dictionary of the Left, Volume 1, page 488; Western Islands Publishers, 1969]
By contrast, I will now present extensive excerpts from the FBI HQ file on Randolph.
The following quotations come from the FBI’s 198-page “correlation summary” document about Randolph. This is serial #46, dated 1/12/65, of Randolph’s main file which is HQ file #100-55616. A “correlation summary” consists of excerpts from all FBI files which mention a subject and it then identifies the specific file number, serial number and date along with a synopsis of the content.
In the following excerpts, “CP” or “CPUSA” refers to Communist Party in the United States. The “Daily Worker” is the Communist Party USA newspaper. “NALC” refers to Negro American Labor Council, an organization which A. Philip Randolph created. Much of the data contained in the FBI’s file on Randolph came from its informants inside the CPUSA who often attended secret, closed CP meetings.
“[CP informant name excised] advised on 10/20/50, that it was the direct order of the CP that the Harlem Trade Union Council was organized. The organization was set up to counteract the anti-communist labor group in Harlem organized by A. Philip Randolph and Frank R. Crosswaith which was known as the Negro Labor Committee.”
“The DW [Daily Worker] dated 11/14/50, carried an article by John Pittman, captioned ‘Right To Chose Your Friends’. This article stated that Negro mis-leaders such as Willard Townsend, A. Philip Randolph. Roy Wilkins of the NAACP, and Gloster B. Currant of the NAACP, by joining the anti-communist pack and attempting to impose the loyalty program on the Negro people, bore direct responsibility for every case where a Negro worker was deprived of his livelihood on the pretense of ‘disloyalty’.”
[CP informant name excised] advised that on 7/29/62, Irving Potash met in Chicago with a group of CP persons in industry and the Negro American Labor Council [NALC] at Chicago. Potash pointed out that in New York certain CP members were expelled from the NALC…As a result, A. Philip Randolph had called for removal of all communists from the NALC…There was also a move within 3 or 4 branches of the NALC to have Randolph removed as head of the organization, and the CP supported this move. Chicago, Cleveland, NY, Buffalo, and California branches of the NALC would secede if Randolph persisted in removing the communists.”
“The following references in the file captioned ‘CPUSA’ contain information pertaining to the activities of A. Philip Randolph. Randolph was founder of the MOWM [March on Washington Movement], the NALC [Negro American Labor Council] and was active in the struggle for a permanent Fair Employment Practices Act, and the fight against segregation in the Armed Forces. The CP, although in favor of civil rights for Negroes, attacked Randolph and accused him of being a ‘Trotskyite’ because Randolph was extremely anti-communist and refused to allow them in his organizations. The CP attempted to infiltrate the NALC and the MOWM.”
“The following references in the file captioned the ‘Harlem Trade Union Council’ which later became the National Negro Labor Council (NNLC), file #100-367632, contain information pertaining to the activities of A. Philip Randolph. The NNLC was organized by the Communist Party to counteract the anti-communist group in Harlem headed by Randolph and Frank A. Crosswaith. This anti-communist group, the Negro Labor Committee, issued a press release signed by Randolph and others which denounced the NNLC.”
“The following references pertain to the activities of A. Philip Randolph with the March on Washington Movement. The MOWM was founded by Randolph as an anti-communist group that split off from the NNC [National Negro Congress] in the Fall of 1940. The group planned on a March on Washington in order to present grievances of the Negro to Government officials and for the abolishment of discrimination. In June 1941, Randolph called off a March on Washington at the request of Government officials but the organization set up was retained.”
“The following references in the file captioned National Negro Congress, file 61-6728, contain information pertaining to the activities of A. Philip Randolph, an officer of this organization. Randolph was one of the founders of the NNC and became its first President. He resigned in 1940 as President because of the communist influence that had become apparent in the NNC.”
“The following references in the file captioned ‘Racon’ [Racial Conditions] file #100-135, contain information pertaining to the activities of A. Philip Randolph in the struggle for Negro rights…Randolph was bitterly anti-communist and the communists attack him repeatedly for his red-baiting. He had organized the NNC in 1936 and resigned in 1940 when CP influence became noticeable.”
“The following references in file 62-101087 pertain to Segregation…He [Randolph] met with President Eisenhower and other Negro leaders in June 1958 to discuss school integration problems and on 3/22/60 he addressed the New York Youth Committee For Integration. At this meeting he told the group that the communists had infiltrated the organization and that they should dissolve it. They followed his advice and dissolved the organization.”
“The following references in the file captioned ‘Cominfil of the Railroad Industry’, file #100-348159, contain information pertaining to the activities of A. Philip Randolph. Randolph, President of the BOSCP [Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters], had been associated with (either as a member of, or sponsor of), various CP fronts until 1940 when he quit the NNC [National Negro Congress] because of CP influence in the organization. He was considered very anti-communist and was attacked by the CP for his stand on communism. The CP tried to infiltrate the NALC [Negro American Labor Council], but failed because Randolph controlled it completely, The President of the Dining Car and Railroad Food Workers Union, an alleged CP member, also attacked Randolph because of an award he had presented to AFL President William Green for his fight against discrimination.”
“The following references are newspaper clippings of or quotations from articles which were written by A. Philip Randolph:
“Communists: A Menace To Black America” in The Northwest Enterprise, Seattle WA, 11/26/46
“The Menace of Communism” in The American Federationist, March 1949, p19
“The following references on A. Philip Randolph pertain to his activities in connection with FEPC [Fair Employment Practices Committee] legislation. From 1943 to 1952 he traveled to various sections of the U.S. speaking to groups and organizations urging them to support FEPC legislation and to write their Congressmen and Senators to enlist their support. He founded the National Council For a Permanent FEPC. Randolph was attacked by the CP as an enemy because of his popularity with the Negroes and because he refused to work with the CP.”
Randolph’s FBI HQ file [100-55616] also contains a memo dated 10/18/63 (no serial number), which is a copy of a New York City FBI memo concerning Communist infiltration of the NAACP.
This memo is a summary prepared by the Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s New York City field office for FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover concerning data in New York City FBI files on A. Philip Randolph—most of which came from FBI informants who attended secret closed CPUSA meetings.
Although this memo appears in the HQ file on Randolph [100-55616] it originated in the HQ and NYC files on the NAACP [HQ 61-3176, and NYC 100-7629, sub D].
Excerpts from the NYC summary are quoted below:
“On page 122 of the Guide To Subversive Organizations and Publications, revised and published as of December 1, 1961, prepared and released by the Committee on Un-American Activities, U.S. House of Representatives, Washington DC, there appears in part the following concerning National Negro Congress:
‘A. Philip Randolph, President of the Congress since its inception in 1936, refused to run again in April 1940 on the grounds that it was ‘deliberately packed with Communists and Congress of Industrial Organizations members who were either Communists or sympathizers with Communists.’
“The July 19, 1943 issue of the Daily Worker, page 3, column 6, contains an article entitled ‘A. Philip Randolph Waves The Whole Redherring’. According to the article, Randolph stated that persons were barred from the March on Washington because ‘We don’t want Communists in the organization.’ “
“In the July 16, 1948 edition of the New York Times, there appears an article which reflects that A. Philip Randolph accused American Communists of having used the fight against racial discrimination as a device to advance the cause of Russia.”
“On April 22, 1959, a second source advised that James Jackson, CPUSA Secretary in charge of Southern and Negro affairs, stated on April 22, 1959, that he and other top CP functionaries had concluded that the CP was defeating its own purpose in aiding the Youth March For Integrated Schools, which was held on April 18, 1959 at Washington DC. In doing so, the CP was providing A. Philip Randolph with the opportunity of planting seeds of Fascism in the youth groups. Jackson described Randolph as a dangerous capitalist agent and the most outspoken anti-Party personality in the Negro movement.” …
“On November 23, 1959, a fifth source advised that the District Convention of the Illinois District of the Communist Party was held on November 21 and 22, 1959 in Chicago. Claude Lightfoot on November 21, 1959, cautioned against CP support of the Negro organization then being organized by Randolph. He stated that Randolph had a history of being anti-Communist, however, he was not above wanting to use the CP.”
“On June 13, 1960, an eighth source advised that a meeting of all trade union members of the CP, along with the Negro Commission and Youth Commission of the Baltimore CP, was held on June 8, 1960 in Baltimore, Maryland. George Meyers stated at this meeting that Randolph had been a militant fighter all his professional life and had been red baiting most of the time.”
“On July 19, 1960, a tenth source advised that a meeting of the Illinois State Committee of the CP was held on July 8, 1960 in Chicago at which a report was given by Claude Lightfoot on a recent convention of the NAACP held in Minneapolis MN. Lightfoot reported that Randolph gave the keynote speech at the convention banquet and that there was complete lack of ‘red-baiting’ until Randolph spoke. He stated that Randolph felt it was his duty to oppose Communism.”
“On April 27, 1961, the sixth source advised that a meeting of the CP Caucus of the NALC [Negro American Labor Council] was held on April 21, 1961 in New York City at which William L. Patterson was invited to discuss the CP’s role in the NALC. Patterson pointed out that the CP had four of its members on the Executive Board of the New York chapter NALC and another four members serving on various committees…Patterson stated he believed the Party would have to move slowly as it can only be effective if it did not attract the attention of Randolph and this other individual.”
“On April 18, 1962, a fifteenth source advised that a press release was issued on April 18, 1962 by Randolph when it was determined that there was Communist infiltration and domination of the Buffalo Chapter, NALC. The release stated in part:
‘The leadership of NALC is fully aware of the fact that Negro workers can never win their central objective, namely, the abolition of second-class status in the labor movement and in industry, except within the framework of freedom and democracy, and hence, consider Communists and Communism as the kiss of death.’
Randolph stated finally that he would rather not have a chapter of NALC in Buffalo than one under Communist control.”
Summarizes testimony of ex-Communist Louis Rosser which he gave during Hearings of the House Committee on Un-American Activities in San Francisco, 12/1/53. During his testimony, Rosser explained the CPUSA position on Randolph during World War II, particularly in relation to Randolph’s activities in support of a Fair Employment Practices Committee. This data may also be seen in the 1954 report of the House Committee on Un-American Activities entitled “The American Negro in the Communist Party”, page 29.
“The Communist Party said that he [Randolph] had to be muzzled, and he was coming to Los Angeles in 1942, and I and Pettis Perry were given the job of working out a plan how we could discredit Randolph…So he was getting a medal that the NAACP gives each year to some outstanding American Negro, white, or any nationality in the field of human relations, and he was getting it for his work on integration of Negroes into industry…We wrote a speech that praised the Soviet Union, that called for the opening of the second front and that said Randolph was a traitor to his country…But it [the speech] gave the Party not only the opportunity to discredit this Negro leader, but it gave the Party the opportunity to reach the top negroes in America with the program of the Communist Party at that time.” [The speech was delivered by Charlotta Bass, whom Rosser described as a CPUSA fellow-traveler “who already was close to the Communists”.]
J. EDGAR HOOVER and FBI ON CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT
In 1965, J. Edgar Hoover described the civil rights movement as “a great and too long neglected cause of human rights” in our country. [FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, Introduction, April 1965].
After warning about radicals that had no genuine interest in advancing civil rights, Hoover observed in a December 1964 speech, that:
“Let me emphasize that the American civil rights movement is not, and has never been dominated by the communists–because the overwhelming majority of civil rights leaders in this country, both Negro and white, have recognized and rejected communism as a menace to the freedoms of all.”
[J. Edgar Hoover speech, 12/12/64, Our Heritage of Greatness, pg 7 – Hoover speech before Pennsylvania Society and the Society of Pennsylvania Women; bold emphasis on “not” and “never” in original document].
In November 1966, Hoover received an inquiry from a self-identified JBS member who saw the above quote in a letter-to-the-editor of his local newspaper and he wanted to know if the quote was an accurate reflection of Hoover’s judgment both in 1964 and 1966. Hoover replied affirmatively and concluded: “This position remains essentially unchanged today.” [HQ 62-104401-3021, 11/15/66 Hoover reply to incoming Bircher inquiry].
Also see following Hoover comments :
“It would be absurd to suggest that the aspirations of Negroes for equality are communist inspired. This is demonstrably not true…” [J. Edgar Hoover speech, Faith In Freedom, 12/4/63, page 6].
“In general, legitimate civil rights organizations have been successful in excluding Communists, although a few have received covert counseling from them and have even accepted them as members…The CP is not satisfied with this situation and is continually striving to infiltrate the civil rights movement at every level. ” [J. Edgar Hoover, U.S. News and World Report, 11/1/65, page 46].
“It is no secret that one of the bitterest disappointments to communistic efforts in this Nation has been their failure to lure our Negro citizens into the party. Despite every type of propaganda boomed at our Nation’s Negro citizens, they have never succumbed to the party’s saccharine promises of a Communist ‘Utopia’. This generation and generations to come for many years owe a tremendous debt to our Negro citizens who have consistently refused to surrender their freedoms for the tyranny of communism.” J. Edgar Hoover testimony before U.S. Senate Internal Security Subcommittee, 01/17/60, reprinted in March 1960 FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, page 7]
As these comments make clear, Hoover and the FBI saw Communists as OUTSIDERS seeking ways to exert influence and control within the civil rights movement whereas the JBS portrayed them as INSIDERS who created and controlled the movement from the beginning.
Martin Luther King Jr. Attending a “Communist Training School”
See expanded version of this topic at: https://sites.google.com/site/ernie124102/hfs-1
The Birch Society and its front-organization TACT (Truth About Civil Turmoil) were responsible for widespread distribution of a postcard showing a photo of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “attending a Communist training school.” In addition to postcards, Birchers also were responsible for billboards which contained the photo and for hundreds of instances when JBS speakers referred to King’s attendance at a “Communist training school.” The school was identified as Highlander Folk School (HFS) in Monteagle, TN.
Alan Stang discusses HFS and the photograph in his JBS-published book where he described Highlander as “this Communist school”. [It’s Very Simple: The True Story of Civil Rights; Western Islands Publishers, 1965, page 114)
What the Birch Society is very careful to suppress is the story behind who took the picture and the background of the persons responsible for describing HFS as a “Communist training school”
The famous photograph of Dr. King at Highlander was taken by Edwin H. Friend. Mr. Friend of Atlanta GA described himself as “an undercover agent” for the Georgia Commission on Education (GCE). He also was an official photographer for the Georgia Ku Klux Klan headed by Grand Dragon Calvin F. Craig.
The GCE was organized in 1953. The most prominent Commission members were Georgia Governor Marvin Griffin, Georgia Lt. Gov Ernest Vandiver, and Roy V. Harris.
MARVIN GRIFFIN was a life-long segregationist and co-founder of the States Rights Council of Georgia. The Council was an organization, like the GCE itself, that was devoted to preventing integration in Georgia. Toward that end, Governor Griffin was a welcomed featured speaker at White Citizens Councils and States Rights Council functions.
In a May 1956 speech, Governor Griffin made the following observations:
“Let me say to you tonight as we counsel together, do not be concerned by what is said by the Communists, the pinkos, the radicals, the NAACP, the ADA, the one-worlders and all that motley group of crackpots who are clamoring for desegregation and mongrelization. These groups of organized minorities are chanting a chorus that opposition to the fraudulent order of the Supreme Court is defiance of law. Of course, that is not true. The decision of May 17, 1954 is not law. It is an attempt to make law where none existed before by a non law-making body.” …
“You may take the map of the world today and look at all of the countries. Wherever you find a country that is populated by a black race, a colored race, or a mongrel race, the Christian religion has not been able to survive…I say without fear of contradiction, that the white race is the only race of people in history who have been able to perpetuate the Christian religion. Mongrelization of our people here in America will follow integration of the races in school and on the social level. When mongrelization of the races occurs—and God grant that it will never occur—it will bring with it the destruction of the Christian religion.” …
“There are obvious and well-known differences between whites and blacks which no amount of glossing-over and covering up by subversive so-called anthropologists and pseudo-scientists can hide…There are many reasons why the white people object to their children having this close association with nigger children. Among them are: health; the Nigra’s high crime rate and disrespect for law; the lower mentality level; and the high rate of illegitimacy among Nigras.” …
“I would like to, for just a moment, if you please, tell you very briefly what we are attempting to do in our State of Georgia. First, in Georgia, the Constitution and the laws of our state prevent the expenditure of state tax funds for the operation of mixed schools. Also, our General Assembly will never appropriate one dime for mixed schools. And let me say to you definitely and unequivocally, Georgia will have separate public schools or no public schools.” [Transcript of May 1956 Griffin speech before Southern Regional Citizens’ Council of New Orleans, pages 3-4.]
ERNEST VANDIVER was elected Governor of Georgia in 1958. His campaign platform included this statement: “When I am your Governor, neither my three children, nor any child of yours, will ever attend a racially mixed school in the State of Georgia. No, not one.”
ROY V. HARRIS published the Augusta GA Courier, a white supremacist weekly paper. He was National President of the Association of Citizens’ Councils of America, a white supremacy organization as well as President of the segregationist Georgia States’ Rights Council.
EDWIN H. FRIEND attended a 1957 Labor Day weekend seminar at HFS and took a picture of a group of individuals seated in an auditorium, one of whom was Dr. King.
When the GCE published its pamphlet on Highlander, it described the HFS seminar as being “held to discuss methods and tactics for precipitating racial strife and disturbances.” [HQ 61-7511, #206 is copy of GCE publication, Highlander Folk School: Communist Training School—Monteagle TN.]
Subsequently, Edwin Friend testified before a Tennessee legislative hearing concerning what he “learned” during his “investigation” of Highlander. The excerpt appearing below, reveals his underlying motivation and the basis for describing HFS as “Communist“.
“Q: Mr. Friend, was that a subversive meeting there at that time?
A: It was subversive, sir, to the way that I have been taught to live in America.
Q: Explain that to the committee.
A: I have been taught by southern tradition to keep the races separate. I was taught to go to Sunday school and Church. I was taught to respect the other fellow’s habitat, and that is what I have always tried to do. Up here it seems like all of those things weren’t even considered. It is the primary motive of this group to tear down the forces that were trying to keep the races separate in the South.”
[Joint Legislative Investigating Committee, State of Tennessee: Investigation of Highlander Folk School, Grundy County Tennessee, 3/4/59, p447.]
Mr. Friend was asked another question which produced a revealing answer:
“Q. Do you believe that anyone that espouses the things that you have just said to promote integration for that kind of motive, could possibly be a good Tennessean, a good Southerner, or a good American?”
A. I can guarantee you he is not what I would call a good American, Sir.” [Ibid, p451]
Mr. Friend also testified about one of his photos which revealed another matter at Highlander that greatly disturbed him: square dancing!
“This is a square dance held at night in one of the buildings on this estate of Mr. Horton…The approach to this square dance seemed to be very harmless, in that you get a person in the square dance and the caller can call it in such a way that the Negro boy will wind up dancing with the white girl…This was called and invariably he always wound up with one of the Negro boys dancing with one of the white girls in order to get them familiar, and these doctrines were teached in this school, and in order to break down the resistance to integration in that you had to do it anyway that a person really wouldn’t be conscious of it…” [Ibid, page 443.]
Aside from the candid description of his bias cited above, Mr. Friend is also on record in a deposition submitted in November 1959 for Tennessee court proceedings. Friend said that his assignment as a Georgia “undercover agent” was “to go to Monteagle, Tennessee to the Highlander Folk School and find out whether that malignancy of the NAACP and Communism was leaking out over Georgia.” [John Edgerton, The Trial of the Highlander Folk School, Southern Exposure magazine, Spring 1978, p 86.]
In short, like the Birch Society itself, Ed Friend (the “investigator”) started with a conclusion and then was only interested in evidence if it conformed or could be twisted toward his pre-determined conclusion.
In 1957, the FBI responded to an inquiry about Highlander from Tennessee State Senator R.L. Peters Jr.
The notation on the Bureau file copy states:
“The Bureau has known of the Highlander Folk School for years and has investigated numerous allegations concerning its activities. While it permits Communists to attend, there has been no indication that it teaches courses along the Communist line or has ever employed any Communists on its staff. It is primarily designed to teach economics and related subjects.” [HQ 61-7511-212, 11/12/57].
A July 1963 FBI memo summarizes their file on Highlander Folk School:
“Due to the interracial character of the School, it has been the subject of numerous allegations that it represented the headquarters of communism in east Tennessee. An extensive investigation was conducted in 1941 and 1942 as a result of the allegations. These allegations have never been substantiated and much of the information of a subversive derogatory nature concerning this School was later repudiated by the individuals who previously furnished the information…This organization has continuously been involved in the integration movement and as a result charges are being continuously made that it is ‘communist’. These charges are based mainly on the opinion of the individuals making the charges that being pro-integration is being pro-communist.” [64-7511-286, July 26, 1963, F.J. Baumgardner to W.C. Sullivan].
In 1963, Mississippi Governor Ross Barnett testified before the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee against a proposed public accommodations bill. Governor Barnett raised the issue of Dr. King’s attendance at HFS. An FBI memo on the controversy concludes:
“FBI files concerning the HFS show that this school was the subject of a security investigation which was closed in 1943…No information was developed that the school offered courses of instruction on communism nor that the Communist Party ever succeeded in gaining control of the school. Due to its interracial character, however, the HFS has been the subject of numerous past allegations that it represents the headquarters for communism in eastern Tennessee.” [July 13, 1963 FBI memo from J.F. Bland to W.C. Sullivan].
In May 1961, Martin Luther King’s attendance at Highlander’s 1957 event was discussed in an internal FBI memo which produced blistering comments (and censure letters) by J. Edgar Hoover to members of the Bureau’s Name Check Section — the unit which prepared summary memoranda for high government officials. On May 22, 1961, FBI summaries were sent to the Attorney General on five individuals — one of whom was MLK Jr. The summary memo on King stated that King had “attended a Communist Party training school seminar”.
J. Edgar Hoover asked for an explanation of why the summary memo had stated that King had not been the subject of a security investigation if, as the summary memo stated, he attended a Communist Party school. The subsequent explanation produced the following explanation by the Supervisor of the Name Check Unit, George H. Scatterday:
“Reverend King has established himself as of one the most vocal and nationally prominent leaders on behalf of integration for the Negroes. In his efforts along these lines he has accepted financial contributions from all types of organizations, including groups cited as subversive; lent support to left-wing causes; and has associated with respresentatives of cited organizations and Communist Party members. This activity, however, has apparently been in the furtherance of his integrationist aims. There is no evidence that he has ever been affiliated with the Communist Party…The synopsis of referenced memorandum contained the statement concerning MLK Jr., that in 1957 he attended a Communist Party training school seminar and reportedly gave a closing speech. The Director [Hoover] has asked ‘Let me have more details.’ “
The foregoing brief statement did not convey the full facts concerning the nature of the meeting attended by King. In our efforts to be brief we did not put in sufficient detail. We should have indicated that the term ‘Communist Party training school’ was a descriptive term which had been utilized by the Georgia Commission on Education to describe the Highlander Folk School, Monteagle, Tennessee, where the seminar was held and was not a characterization of the specific meeting attended by King…A review of the Bureau file concerning the Highlander Folk School reveals that a security investigation on the school was closed in 1943…No information has been received that the school has offered courses of instruction in communism, nor has information been received that the Communist Party ever succeeded in gaining control of the school. Due to its interracial character, however, it has been the subject of numerous past allegations that it represents the headquarters for communism in Eastern Tennessee.” [HQ 67-318195, #210, 5/23/61 memo from G.H. Scatterday to A. Rosen — copy in Scatterday’s personnel file.]
J. Edgar Hoover handwrote two comments on this memo:
(1) With respect to the original memo’s characterization that King “attended a Communist Party school seminar“, Hoover observed: “This is the understatement of the year. You deliberately made an erroneous statement of fact.”
(2) With respect to the description of Highlander originating with the Georgia Commission on Education, Hoover observed: “This is astounding. Upon what the first memo said, I orally advised A.G. [Attorney General] that King had been associated with Communists and had been at a Communist meeting.”
Hoover then approved a recommendation on the memo that Section Chief Scatterday should receive a letter of censure because his summary memoranda and synopsis regarding King “did not accurately set forth” the correct details regarding King’s attendance at the Highlander event.
At this point, Hoover did not know that the description of Highlander which was published by the Georgia Commission on Education in its pamphlet on Highlander, actually originated with Edwin H. Friend, the official photographer of the Georgia KKK!
FBI VS. JBS ON PERSONS JBS CONSIDERED “EXPERTS”
Debating a John Birch Society (JBS) member or sympathizer can be very difficult because, to inflate their credentials as an organization relying upon carefully documented and factual material, the JBS often cites as “experts” persons who testified, under oath, before state or national legislative committees as well as persons who had some connection to the FBI (either as former Special Agents or as security informants) or persons who were informants for local police departments.
Some of these folks became JBS members, endorsers, speakers, or authors and they lent an aura of authority and special “inside knowledge” to JBS assertions.
Since the Birch Society purports to be an “educational” organization and “an army fighting with facts”, “whose only weapon is the truth” it seems appropriate to consider new data, available for the first time, which originates from sources that, heretofore, even the Birch Society accepted as knowledgeable, authoritative, and reliable—such as the FBI during J. Edgar Hoover’s tenure.
FBI INFORMANTS, SPECIAL AGENTS, and THE BIRCH SOCIETY
The FBI had very negative evaluations about the post-FBI endeavors of its former security informants or Special Agents or Police Department informants who subsequently attached themselves to the JBS as members, endorsers, speakers, or authors. Examples include: Dan Smoot, W. Cleon Skousen, Julia Brown, David Gumaer, Gerald W. Kirk, Matt Cvetic, and Karl Prussion.
In an FBI memo dated January 21, 1964, the Bureau proclaimed that…
“As a matter of fact, the Bureau will not approve any individual for development as a confidential informant if he is a member of the John Birch Society.” [HQ 62-104401-2027,1/21/64 memo to Mr. Callahan from (name excised)].
The memo also points out that “No information is available to indicate membership of any Bureau employee in the JBS.” This was based upon employee submission of annual “Personnel Status Forms” which required them to list organizations to which they belonged.
It is also clear from Bureau internal memos that a JBS member would not be considered desirable as a prospective FBI employee. Wire service reports in December 1966 quoted Hoover as stating no JBS members were employed by the Bureau. A Birch Society member wrote to Hoover to challenge “the veracity of that statement” and he questioned why JBS membership would even be a concern. Hoover’s 12/22/66 reply re-iterated that “no Special Agents of the FBI are members of the John Birch Society.”
Many Birchers conflated FBI informants with FBI Special Agents and they assumed there was no qualitative difference between the two categories and this mistaken judgment continues today.
Informants supply raw information. Raw information can be fragmentary, ambiguous, contradictory, exaggerated, deceptive or false — which is why it has to be analyzed, evaluated, interpreted, weighed, and compared to other data including data from other informants.
Nevertheless, many “FBI informants” subsequently became paid speakers and earned a lucrative living from claiming special expertise that they did not actually possess or expertise which was limited in time, place, and scope.
The FBI frequently used the description “professional anti-Communists” to characterize persons and organizations whom exploited the genuine concerns of ordinary citizens about Communism primarily to generate income for themselves but (from the Bureau’s perspective) without much regard for the accuracy of information they disseminated.
The FBI’s list of such persons and organizations included the following who were associated with, endorsers of, or who were recommended by, the JBS:
Billy James Hargis (Christian Crusade), Edgar Bundy (Church League of America), Fred Schwarz (Christian Anti-Communism Crusade), Dan Smoot (former FBI Special Agent and later publisher of Dan Smoot Report) and Karl Prussion (former FBI security informant.)
As reports came into the Bureau of statements made by former FBI security informants or Special Agents (such as Dan Smoot, W. Cleon Skousen, Julia Brown, Karl Prussion, and Gerald Kirk)—it became apparent that these folks were presenting their PERSONAL opinions which were not supported by data in FBI files or from FBI investigations and thus contradicted conclusions reached by the Bureau from its investigations.
During a February 1967 appearance before the House Appropriations Committee, J. Edgar Hoover was asked if he approved of former FBI security informants speaking under the auspices of “extremist groups” such as the JBS-front group TACT (Truth About Civil Turmoil).
Hoover accepted the premise that TACT was an extremist group and he then said:
“It is an improper attempt to capitalize on the name of the FBI.”
Congressman Andrews then asked:
“In other words, this certainly does not indicate what it would to the average American, that the ‘ex-FBI undercover agents’ are so frustrated in their work in the Agency that they leave and sign-up with extremist organizations in order to try to protect America.”
Hoover replied: “Nor does it indicate I in any way condone the use of the name ‘ex-FBI-undercover agent’ in such endeavors.“ [HQ 62-104401-3135, 5/31/67].
Hoover objected to former informants seeking to inflate their credentials to persuade audiences that they had some sort of special expertise when, in reality, they simply provided raw information, of varying quality, to the Bureau.
JBS National Public Relations Director Reed Benson wrote to Hoover on 11/30/67 to ask Hoover to clarify his objection. Benson mentioned that JBS publicity releases on JBS speakers included descriptions of their association with the FBI. Examples: Julia Brown was described as former “FBI Undercover Agent” and Lola Belle Holmes and Ruth Gordienko were described as “an FBI undercover operative”.
Hoover’s terse reply to Benson was that “it is improper for individuals who have voluntarily furnished information to the FBI on a confidential basis, for which they may or may not have been compensated, to capitalize on the name and reputation of this Bureau.” [HQ 62-104401, #3215; 11/30/67 Reed Benson letter and 12/5/67 Hoover reply.]
Many FBI memos make clear that former FBI informants would often speak on matters about which they had no knowledge OR where their knowledge was limited to a specific place or time frame. But organizations such as the JBS rarely bothered to determine what, exactly, such persons did or did not know i.e. the extent or limits of their expertise.
DAN SMOOT, a former FBI Special Agent, is a unique star in the Birch Society stable of “experts”. However, from the Bureau’s perspective, Smoot’s post-FBI endeavors wrongly sought to capitalize upon his relatively brief FBI career. The Bureau thought Smoot was in the habit of making “unfactual and inaccurate statements…concerning national and international problems.”
A detailed 20-page report about Smoot may be seen here:
https://sites.google.com/site/ernie124102/smootIn early 1964, the Bureau sent Dr. Harry Overstreet material to assist him and his wife with their forthcoming book entitled “The Strange Tactics of Extremism.” One chapter of the book discussed Dan Smoot. When the Overstreets furnished advance excerpts of the book to the Bureau in the summer of 1964, the Bureau’s Domestic Intelligence Division reviewed the highly critical excerpts and concluded:
“The material from the Bureau’s point of view appears to be satisfactory…The material has been reviewed and checked previously by the Domestic Intelligence Division. From our point of view there does not appear to be anything objectionable.”
FBI Assistant Director C.D. DeLoach handwrote the following observation on the review memo about the Overstreet’s chapter on Dan Smoot: “I’m glad they’re doing this. It’s about time someone called his hand.” [HQ 62-1-2576, unrecorded, 7/23/64 memo from M.A. Jones to Mr. DeLoach]
According to Bureau memos, shortly before his retirement Smoot was the subject of disciplinary action. One memo has the following summary:
“Howard D. Smoot was employed with the Bureau as an Agent from March 23, 1942 to June 15, 1951. Shortly before Smoot’s resignation, he was censured, placed on probation, and transferred due to several unfounded charges against his SAC [Special Agent in Charge of a Field Office]. His attitude before and after resignation was extremely antagonistic, and he was not recommended for re-instatement.”
[HQ 62-102576, unrecorded, 8/30/61 memo from N.P. Callahan to The Director; also see HQ 62-102576- #1, 9/13/55]
With respect to Smoot’s knowledge of communism and communist activities, it isn’t clear how much FBI experience Smoot actually had. Smoot’s 1993 autobiography states that he was assigned to the “communist squad” in Cleveland for 3 years but speaking engagements and training “took up much of my time during the remaining months of my tenure in the Cleveland office (and) gave me considerable relief from Communist duty…” [Dan Smoot: People Along The Way, Tyler Press, 1993, page 162].
From Cleveland, Smoot transferred to Bureau HQ in Washington DC and became a desk supervisor for CIA applicants which he described as “doing clerks work on Agents salaries”. [Ibid, page 166.]
Subsequently he was transferred to the Bureau’s Crime Records Section “where I served as a ghost writer of magazine articles, newspaper guest columns, prefaces, patriotic endorsements and speeches for J. Edgar Hoover.” [Ibid, page 169]. Then he transferred back to Dallas for 31 months concentrating on “police schools and special assignments” but he worked on only 2 cases—neither of which was assigned to him. Shortly thereafter he resigned. [Ibid, page 177].
In May 1962, J. Edgar Hoover responded to an inquiry about Smoot’s FBI background by stating:
“I welcome this opportunity to make it perfectly clear that former Special Agents of the FBI are not necessarily experts on communism. Some of them have sought to capitalize on their former employment with this Bureau for the purpose of establishing themselves as such authorities. I am firmly convinced there are too many self-styled experts on communism, without valid credentials and without any access whatsoever to classified, factual data, who are engaging in rumor mongering and hurling false and wholly unsubstantiated allegations against people whose views differ from their own. Such activity makes more difficult the task of the professional investigator.” [HQ 62-102576-107, May 23, 1962 Hoover reply to incoming inquiry about Smoot]
In 1994 I wrote to Mr. Smoot to inquire about several matters, including the circumstances of his resignation from the FBI. His reply does not correspond to the data contained in his FBI personnel file.
For example: Smoot denied that he had ever been subject to disciplinary action at the end of his service, and he denied being placed on probation. However, his personnel file shows that he initialed a performance evaluation which explicitly mentions the disciplinary action and his probationary status. In addition, J. Edgar Hoover’s letter of censure was mailed to him at the FBI Dallas office.
Mr. Smoot refused to reply to my inquiry concerning whether or not he had access to (and saw) FBI HQ summary memos, reports, or monographs concerning the “Communist Party and the Negro“. Like the Birch Society, Smoot claimed the civil rights movement was Communist created and controlled and served only Communist purposes—-but the Bureau’s internal reports do not reflect such conclusions–so, again, this seems to be merely his personal speculation which is not substantiated by Bureau investigations and informant reports.
W. CLEON SKOUSEN: A November 1965 FBI memo discusses a JBS advertisement which lists several persons, including Skousen, who endorsed the JBS. Skousen, a former FBI Special Agent, is described in the FBI memo as someone “who has exploited his former Bureau career for personal gain.” [HQ 62-104401-unrecorded, 11/16/65 memo from name-deleted to W.C. Sullivan].
Another source of Bureau irritation about Skousen was biographical material he distributed in which he described himself as a “top aide” to Hoover or as an “Administrative Assistant to J. Edgar Hoover.” He was neither.
In October 1961, the Bureau sent out replies to several inquiries about Skousen and stated that “there is no position in the FBI entitled Administrative Assistant to J. Edgar Hoover”. [HQ 62-104401-1448, 10/4/61 Hoover reply to inquiry]. (Former FBI Special Agent Dan Smoot also used this title in his biographical sketches.) Some Skousen admirers described him as “third in the chain of command” within the FBI which is also false.
Birch Society “experts” often could not get simple data about themselves correct. See Karl Prussion, David Gumaer, and Julia Brown below for more examples.
See the following 33-page report (revised September 2009) for a detailed discussion of Cleon Skousen’s FBI career and the mythology about it:
An October 1964 FBI internal memo discusses whether or not the Bureau should acknowledge receipt of an article written by Skousen about J. Edgar Hoover which was published in the September 1964 issue of the Birch Society magazine, American Opinion:
“The activities of Skousen are well known to the Bureau…In recent years he has been aligned closely with the extreme right-wing such as the John Birch Society and has been characterized as an ‘unprincipled racketeer in anticommunism’ who is ‘money-mad‘ and who is doing everything and anything to exploit the subject of anticommunism. Bureau files reveal Skousen has always been a strong supporter of the Bureau and the Director; however, he has not hesitated to trade on his former association with the Bureau in order to achieve stature as a writer and lecturer on anticommunism. In view of this, it is not felt we should acknowledge his favorable comments about Mr. Hoover.” [HQ 62-104401-2280, 10/8/64 memo from M.A. Jones to C. DeLoach.]
Almost all of Skousen’s performance evaluations while in the FBI rate him as “excellent” and, at one time, he was discussed by senior FBI officials as someone who might be considered for promotion to Assistant Special Agent in Charge of a field office.
However, from the time he entered the FBI (as a clerk and messenger in 1935) through his retirement in 1951 — his assignments were primarily administrative not investigative!
Skousen served as a Supervisor in the Communication Section (training new employees, writing manuals for switchboard operators, etc.) He also was responsible for the teletype section plus he edited two internal FBI employee publications.
As late as 1944 there is a memo by J. Edgar Hoover chastising Skousen for problems in the Mail Review and Dispatch Unit which was under Skousen’s supervision.
While assigned to the Crime Records Section at FBI HQ, Skousen was a speaker before various community groups where he discussed FBI jurisdiction, crime-fighting techniques, juvenile delinquency matters and he conducted tours of FBI HQ for VIP’s. He also spent considerable time preparing and presenting material for police training schools. However, most of his performance evaluations discuss his NON-investigative assignments and responsibilities.
The investigative experience shown in his file was limited to a brief period in April 1944 when he worked temporarily in the Washington DC field office and dealt with “white slave traffic”, “impersonation”, “theft of government property” and “bank robbery” cases.
In April 1945, Skousen transferred from Washington DC to the FBI’s Los Angeles field office for health reasons (stomach ulcers). His duties in Los Angeles were described as primarily liaison with local police departments, selective service investigations, juvenile delinquency-related matters, and assignment “to a special squad dealing with black market activities.”
Karl Prussion claimed to have been lured into the CPUSA in 1933 by his professors at Wayne State University in Michigan.
However, when the FBI interviewed Prussion in February 1942, in Michigan, he denied ever being a Communist Party member, but he did acknowledge fomenting strikes and unrest at auto plants in Michigan.Then, in 1949, Prussion told San Francisco FBI agents that he had been a Communist Party member during 1942.
Then, in June 1964, Prussion contacted the FBI in Los Angeles. He stated that he was an active member of the Communist Party from 1933-1938.
In his publications and during his speeches around the country, Prussion claimed to have been a CPUSA member for “26 years” — but “for 12 years” of that time he claimed to have been an “FBI counterspy” – which, by subtraction, leaves 14 years when he supposedly was a CPUSA member by his own choice — versus his claim to the FBI in 1964 that he only was a member from 1933-1938 (5 years).In February 1959, Prussion appeared disguised as “Mister X” on the Tom Duggan TV program (KCOP-TV, Channel 13, Los Angeles). During his interview, Prussion made the following observations about the Communist Party [CP] in California.
“I would say that the 2000 members of the CP in California are members who attend Party meetings, that is, they belong to clubs; they are people who work in an organized manner. However, there are many more than 2000 members throughout the State of California – I would say four times or five times as many – who are what they call individual Communists who are using their knowledge of Communist methods and techniques, Communist strategy, who work strictly on their own, and they figure their own methods of operation within many organizations which they try to get to work for the best interests of the CP and the Soviet Union.” [Transcript of Tom Duggan interview of Karl Prussion (“Mr. X”) on 2/26/59, page 3.]
Thus, in total, Prussion claimed that there were between 10,000-12,000 Communists and Communist sympathizers living in California in early 1959.
Prussion’s speculation regarding the number of Communists in California and nationwide dramatically changed depending upon which audience he spoke to.
A brief recap:
2/26/59 = According to Prussion, 2000 CPUSA members in California plus 4-5 times as many sympathizers who advanced the interests of the CPUSA.
10/23/62 = During a speech at a Rossmoor, CA school, Prussion said “there are 36,000 hard core Communists in the United States, half of them in California.” [Long Beach CA Independent, 12/24/62, p1B: “Counterspy Raps Mosk Statements“. So, according to Prussion, the number of “Communists” in California increased 900% from 1959 to 1962!
11/14/63 = Prussion said there were 45,000 Communists in the U.S. during a speech to the South Bay Club of Federated Republican Women in Redondo Beach CA. [South Bay Daily Breeze, Redondo Beach CA, 11/15/63, page 19, “Reds Pose Big Internal Danger“]
Unlike Prussion, the FBI had access to CPUSA membership statistics because of two very highly placed moles inside the CPUSA with access to CPUSA headquarters documents in New York City (Morris and Jack Childs).
The FBI also had copies of CPUSA mailing lists, their dues payments records, and other pertinent primary source documents.
PRUSSION VERSUS FBI — SUMMARY
Prussion = 2000 CP members in California plus about 8,000-10,000 more sympathizers working to advance CPUSA interests, for a total of 10,000-12,000 in California.
FBI = According to the FBI Security Index, the correct total number of Communists and Communist sympathizers in California (combining the stats of the 4 FBI field offices covering the State), was 3300. [HQ 100-358086, serial #2603, Security Index stats from 4/12/59 Report].
Put in a different context, Prussion’s estimate of 10,000-12,000 in California alone, actually approximates the correct total for the entire country according to the FBI Security Index Monthly Report for February 1959. The national total was 11,107! [HQ 100-358086-2585, 2/20/59].
The correct total number of CPUSA members in California, as of 9/30/59, was 1143 (411 in Northern California, and 732 in southern California) according to semi-annual membership statistical report by FBI. The total membership in the United States as of 9/30/59 was 5766.
[NY 100-80638, #1654, 9/30/59 summary chart of CPUSA membership by state, by Communist Party District, and by FBI field divisions.]
Prussion = 36,000 hardcore Communists in the United States and 18,000 in California alone.
FBI = 5164 in the U.S. and 989 in California – See FBI chart below [New York file 100-80638, serial #1933, page 1, 3/31/62 summary of CPUSA membership by state, by FBI field division, and by Communist Party districts.]
Prussion = 45,000 CP members in the United States.
FBI = The reality, according to the FBI, is that there were about 4453 CP members in the U.S. as of August 1963.
KARL PRUSSION and the BIRCH SOCIETY
In a September 1962 interview, Karl Prussion answered questions concerning his evaluation of Robert Welch and the Birch Society:
“I have spoken at many of their chapter meetings” and “I have great respect for Mr. Welch” and “Well, as I say, I think the man is building an organization which is a credit to the United States and really, Tom, I think if it weren’t for such organizations, the United States would be in a much more critical condition today than it is.” [Transcript of 9/10/62 Tom Duggan interview of Prussion, Channel 11, KTTV—Los Angeles, pages 10 and 15]
In a 1965 Racine WI speech sponsored by Racine Patriots, Prussion said JBS “has my respect, and I’m grateful to them as the type of conservative organization that can develop in America and save our country.” [Racine Journal Times, 5/11/65, “Ex-Communist Assails Reuther As Greatest Problem For U.S.”]
In December 1959, John Birch Society founder, Robert Welch, wrote to J. Edgar Hoover about the background of Karl Prussion because Welch was considering hiring Prussion.
Welch stated that Prussion told him (Welch) that he worked as an informant for the FBI for 12 years. In a 9/28/63 affidavit that Prussion signed “under oath and penalty of perjury”, Prussion claimed he was an “FBI counterspy” for 12 years beginning in 1947 and ending in 1960.
By contrast, J. Edgar Hoover’s reply to Robert Welch stated that Prussion was an informant for less than 9 years (November 1949 to July 1958). [HQ 62-104401, #27, 12/1/59 letter from Welch to Hoover and 12/8/59 Hoover reply].
A February 1959 message to J. Edgar Hoover from the Special-Agent-In-Charge of the FBI’s San Francisco Field Office summarized their judgment about Prussion:
“The Agent handling this informant has noted that Prussion does not have a good memory for names, dates and places and it is his opinion that Prussion would not be inclined to make an effective witness because of this feeling.” [HQ 61-9152-#73, 2/10/59 from SAC San Francisco to J. Edgar Hoover]
In a 33-page Prussion publication in 1962 entitled “California Dynasty of Communism“, the foreword by George Racey Jordan declared that:
“…Karl Prussion secured permission to leave the service of the Bureau in order to carry his story to the public.”
The reality is starkly different.
Prussion never requested or secured permission from the FBI “to carry his story to the public”. Instead, in July 1958, Prussion was abruptly terminated as an informant by the FBI because he publicly disclosed his status to a newspaper reporter, even though he promised, in writing, never to do so without prior Bureau approval. [His 3/10/53 non-disclosure affidavit appears below].
Prussion was frequently described by the FBI as “a professional anti-communist”. His entire income depended upon his ability to entice audiences to pay to attend his speeches around the country and then subscribe to his self-published newsletter, Heads Up.In another blow to his credibility, a January 1964 California Appeals Court decision discussed Prussion’s testimony in a case where he appeared as an “expert witness“.
See: RITA JUDD MACK et al., Plaintiffs and Appellants, v. THE STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION, Defendant and Respondent. Court of Appeals of California, First District, Division Two, Docket No. 20828, January 28, 1964.“The board now agrees with petitioners that ‘the witness Karl Prussion is an unreliable witness and that his testimony be eliminated from consideration by the court in deciding this case.’ ”
Prussion attempted suicide in December 1965, claiming that he was a target for assassination by Communists. Local psychiatrists diagnosed Prussion as mentally ill and subject to paranoia. [Sacramento FBI file 157-1993, serial #2, 6/3/71].
MATT CVETIC was an endorser of the JBS whose book, The Big Lie, was recommended by the JBS. Cvetic was a chronic alcoholic who was dropped as an informant by the Bureau for various indiscretions. While initially useful in several court cases, Cvetic’s handlers at the FBI and Dept. of Justice ultimately concluded he was “unreliable”, “dishonest” and “neurotic”. J. Edgar Hoover advised subordinates that it would be “most unfortunate” to utilize Cvetic in future court proceedings.
[For a complete account of Cvetic’s anti-Communist career, see Daniel J. Leab’s book: I Was A Communist For The FBI—The Unhappy Life and Times of Matt Cvetic, Pennsylvania State University Press, 2000]. Professor Leab acquired FBI and Dept of Justice files on Cvetic and interviewed numerous associates of Cvetic.
DAVID GUMAER infiltrated Students For A Democratic Society and W.E.B. DuBois Clubs and was an undercover operative for the Chicago Police Department. Gumaer joined the JBS in 1964 and subsequently gave speeches under the auspices of American Opinion Speakers Bureau. He was also a Contributing Editor to the JBS weekly magazine, Review of the News.
In 1970, the FBI’s Savannah GA office forwarded a copy of a flyer to HQ which advertised a 9/16/70 speech by Gumaer under JBS auspices. The flyer described Gumaer as an undercover operative for police intelligence and also stated that “His services were also called upon by the FBI and Committees of both Houses of the U.S. Congress.” Upon learning about this false description of his association with the FBI, HQ directed its Chicago field office to contact Gumaer “and advise him to cease and desist from making statements that his services have been requested by the FBI.” [HQ 62-113743, #1, Hoover to SAC Chicago, 9/18/70].
Subsequently, in October, FBI HQ instructed its Los Angeles field office to contact Gumaer to again demand he stop referring to himself as being associated with the FBI.
The quality of Gumaer’s analytical skills may be assessed from his speech in Norfolk VA in December 1970 where he predicted that “a dictatorship will be in control of the United States by 1972…Rioting will start on campuses and ghettoes. Communications will be cut off and the stock market will go broke. The people will call for law and order in the streets. Martial law will be declared and we will have a dictatorship. The wave of assassinations and kidnappings will begin before that.” Furthermore, according to Gumaer, “The Conspiracy is ahead of schedule. By 1973 it will take over unless we can expose the full scope of it before then.” [HQ 62-113743, unrecorded, 12/11/70 article in Norfolk VA Ledger-Star by Larry Bonko.]
During a February 1971 speaking engagement in Reno NV under the auspices of the JBS front-group, Support Your Local Police, Gumaer again stated that he had been an informant for the FBI. FBI HQ instructed its San Francisco field office to immediately contact Gumaer “and once again admonish him for referring to the FBI in his speech in Reno and direct him to immediately cease and desist from making any further reference to the FBI in his talks.” [HQ 62-113742-10, M.A. Jones to Mr. Bishop]. During his Reno speech, Gumaer announced his personal choices for President and Vice-President as George Wallace and Lester Maddox.
In October 1973, the FBI’s Washington DC Field Office sent a memo to HQ advising that it had been contacted by “a confidential source who has provided reliable information in the past” and this informant advised that Gumaer “is alleged to be organizing right-wing airlines pilots to fly ‘hit teams’ around the United States to assassinate certain individuals. Henry Kissinger, Secretary of State, was the only name mentioned.” The field office described Gumaer as “a right-wing anti-Semitic extremist.” The informant was further described as someone who “has on numerous occasions provided information on security matters which has been analyzed to be 95 percent accurate.” [HQ 62-113743-16, 10/26/73; SAC WFO to Hoover].
In November 1973 an informant told the FBI Dallas Field Office that he met Gumaer in Maryland during a March 1972 JBS-sponsored speaking tour. Significantly, the informant is identified as a fellow-Bircher who also was a paid speaker under the auspices of the JBS Speakers Bureau! He was employed by a public relations firm in Dallas that promoted conservative politicians.
Gumaer was described by this informant as “a nut and a crook”. The informant stated that Gumaer had misused a passport secured through his employment with Congressman John Schmitz (Birch Society National Council member) “for the purpose of smuggling gold into the U.S. and this offense allegedly led to Gumaer being fired.” The informant also stated that Gumaer had stolen an electric typewriter from Schmitz’s office. [Dallas 62-4577, #14 and #15 which are 11/5/73 teletype from SAC Dallas to Hoover and 11/7/73 Dallas Special Agent report on discussion with informant].
In January 1967 Gumaer was convicted on charges of battery and subsequently received one year probation. In May 1976 he was convicted of filing a false tax exemption certificate and served 30 days with 2 years probation. [Phoenix FBI file 100A-8715, SubG6, #2, 8/26/85].
In October 1984 FBI HQ authorized a full field investigation of Gumaer and during November 1985 Gumaer was under FBI surveillance because of his association with Arizona Patriots (AP).
An FBI HQ summary memo on Gumaer contains the following comments:
“A review of Bureau indices determined numerous references for Dave Emerson Gumaer. A review of Bureau file 62-113743 determined that Gumaer, who was never an FBI employee or an FBI informant, is allegedly a right-wing, anti-Semitic extremist. Gumaer was an undercover operative of the Chicago Police Department in the 1960’s being directed against ‘new left’ organizations. He came to the attention of the Bureau in 1970-1971, when he undertook a multi-state speaking engagement on behalf of the John Birch Society, of which he was a member. During these speeches, wherein Gumaer would indicate his prior undercover activities and relationship with the Chicago Police Department, Gumaer also identified himself as an FBI informant working matters of a similar nature for the Bureau. These speeches were generally of an alarmist nature, intended to arouse the wrath of conservative America to the ever growing threat from ‘new left’ and ‘Communist backed’ movements in the U.S. Considerable correspondence was received at FBIHQ, due to Gumaer’s purporting to be an FBI informant, in addition to his inflammatory rhetoric during these speeches.” [Phoenix 196B-1603, #42 = 4/30/85 airtel from J. Edgar Hoover to SAC Phoenix, pages 1-2]
The Phoenix FBI field office files on Gumaer also reported:
“Subject is presently a member of the Arizona Patriots organization. He is employed by American Federal Bullion and Coin Inc…Will conduct a very loose surveillance of subject…Subject should be considered armed and dangerous.” [Phoenix 100A-8715, Sub G6, #8, 11/7/85 Special Agent Report to Special Agent in Charge, Phoenix FBI office]
Another serial describes Arizona Patriots as follows: “The Arizona Patriots are an anti-tax, neo-Nazi, paramilitary organization whose philosophy resembles the Aryan Nations, Posse Comitatus, and other right-wing extremist groups to advocate the armed revolution and the overthrow of the United States Government. The actual size of AP is unknown, but leaders claim to have more than 4000 individuals who are members or sympathizers, among these being current and retired members of law enforcement and the military.” [Phoenix 100A-8715, Sub G6, serial #55, 9/26/85]
In December 1986, Gumaer was arrested by BATF and FBI agents in Phoenix.
“On 12/17/86, Federal Grand Jury, Denver CO, returned indictment against Stephen Christiansen and Gumaer for violation of Title 26, U.S. Code Section 5861(e) and Title 18, U.S. Code Section 2” – which pertain to illegal weapons transfers.
Christiansen, a co-worker of Gumaer at Western Monetary Consultants in Denver, Colorado, had told Gumaer about Uzi machine guns he had for sale:
“According to transcripts of secretly taped conversations by an FBI informant in the Arizona Patriots case, Gumaer attended some meetings of the fringe group, which planned to rob an armored truck leaving a Laughlin NV casino and bomb a Phoenix synagogue and the IRS center in Ogden UT…Gumaer mentioned to the undercover informant, a former Sheriff’s Deputy who infiltrated the Arizona Patriots in 1984, that he knew a man in Colorado who could sell them eight Uzis. The informant…passed the information to federal agents who then used Gumaer to set up the sale.” [Phoenix 100A-8715, Sub G6, #84 and #86, Phoenix to SAC Denver, 1/26/87 and Rocky Mountain News, 2/24/87, page 13]
A CASE STUDY OF A JBS “EXPERT”
(FBI HQ file 100-382107 and Cleveland 134-19 and Cleveland 66-35, sub 264)
Also see the following reports for additional details concerning Julia’s false assertions regarding our civil rights movement:
Dan Smoot report: http://ernie1241.googlepages.com/smoot
Highlander Folk School report: http://ernie1241.googlepages.com/hfs-1
In the summer of 1960 Julia Brown expressed the desire to be released from her role as an FBI informant due to the strain on her health and her desire to restore the confidence of her friends and relatives who had no idea of her FBI informant status.
The Special-Agent-In-Charge (SAC) of the FBI’s Los Angeles office sent an inquiry to the SAC of the Cleveland office to inquire about Julia Brown. Julia had recently moved from Cleveland to Los Angeles. Cleveland SAC’s reply was:
“It would appear that while she may be somewhat concerned about her reputation among her friends and relatives, this factor did not seem to be of much concern to her in the past. Former (Julia’s FBI code name deleted) gave the impression of being financially ambitious, and now may feel that she can capitalize on her experience in the Communist Party to her financial advantage, and for the prestige she may believe such publicity will afford her.” [Los Angeles file (no number provided), serial #A-12, SAC Cleveland to SAC Los Angeles, 8/17/50.]
It was also the SAC Cleveland’s judgment that Julia, with only a 10th grade education, was not intelligent enough to write for publication, as she originally proposed. [Los Angeles file, (no number provided), serial A-21, SAC Cleveland to J. Edgar Hoover, 10/7/60.]
In her 1966 book “I Testify: My Years An An FBI Undercover Agent” published by the Birch Society (which actually was ghost-written by Carleton Young), Julia gives a fictitious account of her marital history as well as false details concerning joining and leaving the Communist Party. Other details in the book are also wrong.
According to Julia, she married her first husband (Edward Harris) while she was a teenager but he died. [Julia Brown, I Testify: My Years As An Undercover Agent For The FBI, Western Islands Publishers, 1966, page 11]
Her next mention of marriage is many years later to Curlee Brown of Cleveland. In reality, however, Julia divorced Edward Harris, then married Jack Latimer and divorced him, then married Fred Brice and divorced him the same year she married him, and then married Curlee Brown but considered divorcing him as well.
When Carleton Young submitted two chapters of “I Testify” to Julia for review, she initially rejected the material. Julia told the Los Angeles FBI field office that Mr. Young was expressing his personal political views rather than her views and she characterized Young as an adherent of the “lunatic right” which she described as “Birchers”.
[For “lunatic right” comment, see Los Angeles file (no number provided), serial #A-129, SAC Los Angeles to J. Edgar Hoover, 8/8/63 and for Julia’s reference to “Birchers” see serial #A-119, SAC Los Angeles to J. Edgar Hoover, 3/28/63.]
Julia’s opinions about the civil rights movement, and prominent persons and organizations within it, underwent a stunning reversal after she associated herself with the Birch Society as a paid speaker.
In a March 1961 magazine interview, Julia stated that Communists had “little or no influence” within the NAACP and she concluded that:
“I’m 100 percent with the NAACP and I think they are doing a wonderful job. Top government officials are aware that the NAACP is legal and is working in the American way for first class citizenship for all Americans.” [Ebony magazine, “I Was A Spy For The FBI“, March 1961, p102].
Ebony magazine also reported that during her interview, Julia stated that:
“The extent of Communist penetration among Negroes is sometimes exaggerated by well-meaning but uninformed persons. She disagrees with former President Truman who was quoted as saying the sit-in movement was Communist-inspired. Mrs. Brown, who attended state and national Party conventions says: ‘The sit-in movement was not Communist-inspired, but the Communists have tried to infiltrate it. Truman was wrong. The Communists would have never inspired a movement based on passive resistance. They don’t believe in that. They don’t do anything that’s decent. But after it started, they tried to jump on the bandwagon.’ ” [Ebony magazine, “I Was a Spy For the FBI, March 1961, p96]
FBI Headquarters received an advance copy of Julia’s Ebony magazine interview which it reviewed for errors. In a January 16, 1961 FBI memo, the Bureau stated that Julia should limit her comments to what she personally observed and experienced in Cleveland because “she is not qualified to assert herself as a spokesman for what is happening in the CP across the country.”
Among Julia’s errors discussed in the Bureau’s review memo were:
· the number of “Negroes” Julia claimed were in the Communist Party
· her claim that the Communist Party was sending young members to school to become ministers which the Bureau described as an “isolated” example rather than common practice, and,
· Julia’s claim that Communists used white women as sex bait to lure blacks into the Party, which the Bureau thought was false. [HQ 100-382107-70, M.A. Jones to C. DeLoach, 1/16/61].
In another magazine interview, Julia said: “I don’t think the Communists have appeal to Negroes. I feel that American Negroes are awakened to the menace of Communism.” [Sepia magazine, “Communist For The FBI”, 09/62, p12]
However, AFTER associating herself as a paid speaker for the Birch Society, Julia claimed that the NAACP was “badly infiltrated” by Communists and she routinely denounced the NAACP during her JBS-sponsored speeches as representative of the problem of Communist infiltration of the civil rights movement.
I have been unable to find any Birch Society speaker who ever had anything favorable or pleasant to say about the NAACP (after they became paid JBS speakers or authors).
In December 1963, a JBS member wrote a letter to J. Edgar Hoover to inquire if Hoover agreed with statements attributed to Attorney General Robert Kennedy about insignificant Communist infiltration of the civil rights movement. The Bircher asked: “Certainly you must be aware of the high degree of Communist infiltration into the NAACP, CORE, etc.?” [HQ 62-104401, #1981, 12/5/63 letter to Hoover.]
About a month later, the Bureau received another letter which observed:
“I have just attended a meeting where two members of the John Birch Society spoke. They said the NAACP is run by Communists, all of the top people are Communist and Mrs. Elanore (sic) Roosevelt belongs to 30 Communist fronts over the last 23 years.”
Julia served as “Honorary Chairman” of the JBS-front group in Cleveland called TACTIC (Truth About Civil Turmoil In Cleveland). In August 1966, TACTIC sent a request to FBI HQ asking permission to reprint a Bureau poster entitled “What YOU Can Do To Fight Communism“.
Normally, the Bureau routinely approved such requests or even sent hundreds of copies to requesters. However, in this case, the Bureau produced an “in-absence” reply. In-absence replies were used as a means of distancing the FBI from a person or group perceived as repugnant and not deserving a response with a signature by J. Edgar Hoover. Hoover’s secretary (Helen Gandy) signed in-absence replies. Gandy’s response to TACTIC was curt: “as a matter of policy, he [Hoover] would prefer you not reprint the poster…”
Julia’s past services to the Bureau were no longer considered deserving of either a direct Hoover reply with his signature nor permission to reprint a poster. [HQ 62-104401-2938, incoming 8/17/66 inquiry to J. Edgar Hoover and Gandy reply]
Here is the FBI’s official description of Julia Brown in response to an April 1965 inquiry about her status:
“Concerning Mrs. Julia Brown, she furnished information on subversive activities to the FBI on a confidential basis from 1951 to 1960. Although she was not an employee of this Bureau, she was compensated for her services. Her current views are strictly her own and do not represent the FBI in any way.” [HQ 62-104401-2499, 4/24/65]
During her FBI informant period Julia was paid varying amounts on a monthly basis for her services plus actual expenses. Those payments commenced in August 1951. For the month of July 1954, Julia received $175 for services and $31 in expenses – which was a fairly typical month until November 1956 when her monthly services payment increased to $190. In January 1957, her monthly payment increased to $225 but then fluctuated to amounts between $90 and $225 during her final three years as an FBI informant.Significantly, Julia made considerably more money (monthly and annually) as a paid speaker for the Birch Society (usually $100 per speech) than she ever made working as an informant for the FBI.
In November 1966 an attorney contacted the FBI about a reference by Julia in her book, I Testify, to a person Julia cited as a “founding member” of the Communist Party. The attorney represented the person Julia identified and he disputed Julia’s description. A Bureau memo concluded that:
“It appears probable that the name (deleted for privacy)…is a misprint and that the person intended to be mentioned was actually (name deleted for privacy).”
By all accounts, during her service as an informant for the FBI, Julia was quite effective and provided valuable information. One Cleveland memo to FBI HQ has the following summary:
“Information Furnished Of Unusual Value: The twelve page ‘Report of the Ohio State Board to the State Committee’ dated November 11, 1956, furnished by informant, was not received from any other source in the Cleveland Division. Informant’s information re CP funds, CP infiltration of NAACP, and CP Organization in the Cedar-Central Section is not duplicated by any other informant of this division. Information furnished by [Julia’s code name deleted] has been of considerable value in relation to a technical source close to an Ohio CP functionary.” [HQ 100-382017, #44; 1/14/57 SAC Cleveland to J. Edgar Hoover.]
One wonders, however, what accounts for Julia’s association with the JBS given her pre-JBS favorable recollections of persons and organizations which the JBS despised.
Another puzzle concerns a major discrepancy between Julia’s public accounts in her book and speeches about how she came to join the Communist Party (CP) versus what she told the FBI when she first contacted them in December 1950 and, again, during an extensive interview in June 1951.
According to Julia’s December 1950statement to the FBI, she was approached by a Communist Party member in the summer of 1947 requesting her permission to place a poster about the CP candidate for City Council on her front porch. She then became interested in local politics and she attended political rallies. Subsequently, she was visited by Frieda Katz, the Communist Party’s Cuyahoga OH County Organization Secretary and Julia was invited to several CP social functions.Then, around Christmas 1947 Julia signed an application for membership in the Communist Party while at Katz’s home. She paid her 50 cent dues and received Communist Party literature. She then attended a number of Party meetings including one in the spring of 1948 where Gus Hall was the principal speaker. [FBI HQ file 100-382107, #1, SAC Cleveland report to J. Edgar Hoover, 6/27/51.]
“She stated that a regular membership card for the CP had been issued to her, but that she had destroyed it after she decided to leave the Party in the summer of 1948″. [Cleveland 66-35, Sub 264, #2; 6/27/51 SAC Cleveland to J. Edgar Hoover, page 1, re: “Mrs. Julia Forston Brown nee Julia Forston aka Mrs Curlee Brown, Mrs. Edward Harris, Mrs. Jack Latimer, Mrs. Fred Brice”.]
In June 1951, the Cleveland FBI field office again interviewed Julia and a Special Agent prepared a summary memorandum for the Special Agent in Charge of the Cleveland field office. The pertinent portion is quoted below.
Julia’s story concerning how she became a Communist Party member is worth recounting in detail because it illustrates how many decent and patriotic Americans were seduced into supporting political candidates, organizations, and causes which they later rejected or which they later discovered were Communist-inspired and controlled.
The Birch Society rarely, if ever, acknowledges the legitimate concerns or the serious and genuine social/economic problems which made people like Julia Brown receptive to Communist propaganda. Instead, the Birch Society (and extreme rightists in general) attempt to de-legitimize and demonize anyone connected to organizations which they describe as “Communist” or “Communist front”.
In the JBS scheme of things, if person “x” supposedly joined such an organization—the mere fact that their name appears as a member or endorser on a letterhead or on a petition or in a newspaper ad, etc. tells you everything you need to know about the character, loyalty, patriotism, and intelligence of that individual. [Note: Communists often added the names of prominent persons from their communities to Communist-sponsored petitions or Communist-front publications without the knowledge or approval of those persons–– just to create the impression of support from such respected and/or well-known members of the community or to create the impression of widespread public interest in Communist Party-originated proposals.]6/51 Cleveland Special Agent Report on Julia Brown:
“Mrs. Julia Brown, 3196 East 123 Street (use T-symbol), on June 3, 1951, verbally informed Special Agent [name deleted] that in the Summer of 1947, one Joseph Hill, who was representing Albert Young, then running for councilman in her ward, requested her permission to place an election poster about Young on her front porch. Mrs. Brown stated she then became interested in politics and was visited by Hill on two or three occasions afterward and discussed politics with him. She stated that after attending a few political rallies on behalf of Albert Young, she was visited by Frieda Katz, who spoke to her about politics. Subsequently, Mrs. Brown was invited to several social affairs at the home of Fried Katz and about Christmas of 1947, Mrs. Brown signed an application for admittance to the Communist Party in the kitchen of the home of Frieda Katz, 3692 East 146 Street, at the request of Katz. At that time, Eugene Bayer was present and approved Mrs. Brown’s application. Mrs. Brown stated that she believed that she had also signed a Communist Party application for her husband, Curlee. Mrs. Brown stated that she joined the Communist Party in 1947 because she felt at that time that the Party was the only answer to racial discrimination. Mrs. Brown stated that after joining the Communist Party sometime around Christmas of 1947 she attended many of the club meetings and many of the larger meetings. In the Spring of 1948 she attended a meeting at the Croatian Hall on St. Clair, at which time Gus Hall was the principal speaker. She stated that it was at this particular meeting that she subscribed to the ‘Daily Worker’ and to ‘The Worker’. She also stated that she had a regular membership card in the Communist Party but that she destroyed it after quitting the Party in the middle of the Summer of 1948. She stated that the reason she quit the Party and stopped attending the meetings was because she had a change of heart and felt that the Communist Party was not the answer she was looking for in regard to race discrimination.” [Cleveland 66-35, Sub 264, SA-#6; 6/27/51 Cleveland Special Agent summary memo to Special Agent in Charge of FBI Cleveland Field Office, pages 1-2.]
However, in her JBS-sponsored speeches during the 1960’s and in her 1966 book she claims that she did not know she was joining the Communist Party. Instead, she thought she had just joined a civil rights group called “Civil Rights Congress”.
According to her book, the day after she joined the “civil rights group”, Julia’s husband (Curlee) saw her membership card and he told her that it was a Communist Party membership card – to which Julia claims to have responded:
“I don’t know anything about this Communist Party and I don’t want to have anything to do with it. It is bad, isn’t it?” [I Testify, pages 16-17, 19]
According to Julia, her husband replied:
“All I know is that some fellow came to me on one of my jobs and tried to talk me into joining. I asked a friend of mine about it and he told me to stay clear of the Communist Party. There must be something wrong with it.” [I Testify, page 19]
Julia married her fourth and final husband, Curlee L. Brown, in May 1944. In 1940, Curlee “was listed as a signor of a Communist Party petition filed with the Board of Elections. A Cleveland Police Department report of January 18, 1948, reflects that an automobile bearing license MV 563, listed to Curlee Brown…was observed in the vicinity of the Lenin Memorial meeting on January 18, 1948 at the Public Auditorium, Cleveland, at which William Z. Foster, was the featured speaker.” [Cleveland 66-35, Sub 264, #2; 6/27/51 memo from SAC Cleveland to J. Edgar Hoover re: Julia Brown, page 3.] Note: Foster was the Communist Party candidate for President in 1924, 1928, and 1932. In July 1948, Foster was indicted under the Smith Act for subversion, but he did not go on trial because of a serious heart condition.]
Although during her Birch Society period, Julia claimed that she did not know she had joined the Communist Party – it is significant that she told the FBI that she did know it was the Party – and, furthermore, she subscribed to Communist newspapers, attended speeches by Communist Party officials, received Communist Party publications, signed Communist Party petitions, and worked closely with Cleveland-area Party members.
LOLA BELLE HOLMES
Lola Belle Holmes, is another former member of the Communist Party who subsequently became an FBI informant, and later, a paid speaker for the John Birch Society.
During her 1965 testimony before the House Committee on Un-American Activities, Lola stated that she was born in Waterproof, LA on April 22, 1916. However, a grandchild of hers told me that she was actually born April 12, 1912 and that birthdate also is reflected on her death certificate.
Lola moved to Chicago circa1941. From 1946 to 1958 Lola was a member of Local 212, International Ladies Garment Workers Union, as well as a delegate to Chicago Federation of Labor for 7 years. Lola testified that in 1958 the ILGWU Executive Board discovered that she was a Communist and they terminated her union membership.
From August 1957 to January 24, 1963, Lola worked inside the Communist Party in Chicago and she provided information about Communist Party matters to the FBI.
Lola attended the Communist Party’s 17th National Convention (December 10, 1959 in New York City) as an Alternate Delegate for the State of Illinois. She was a member of the Illinois State Committee and the Illinois State Executive Board of the CPUSA. She also served on the CP’s National Negro Commission. Lola also helped organize and then became the first woman Vice-President of the Negro American Labor Council.
Lola surfaced on January 24, 1963 to testify before the Subversive Activities Control Board against Claude Lightfoot, the CPUSA Chairman in Illinois. She also was a principal witness at May 1965 hearings in Chicago of the House Committee on Un-American Activities.
LOLA’S HUAC TESTIMONY REVEALS MANY CONTRADICTIONS OF JBS DOGMA
During her HUAC testimony, Lola made a number of statements that contradict Birch Society dogma. One has to wonder why she associated herself with the Birch Society?
Her primary speech under the auspices of the JBS was entitled “Is The Civil Rights Movement Directed From The Kremlin?”. The answer to the question was a foregone conclusion.
………LOLA and CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT………
The Birch Society publicity release on Lola described her civil rights activities as follows:
“During that time she carried out orders from Moscow to gain control of the ‘civil rights’ movement and use it as the torch to light a fire of revolution in America.”
One is struck by the contradiction between standard JBS dogma versus the aforementioned claim that she was instructed to “gain control“ of the civil rights movement.
Standard JBS dogma maintains that the civil rights movement was “created” and “controlled” by Communists, and it “serves only Communist purposes”… so why was it supposedly necessary for Lola to work toward “gaining control” of something that the CPUSA supposedly had created and was using from its inception?
Not long after Lola’s January 1963 testimony before the Subversive Activities Control Board against Illinois Communist Party Chairman Claude Lightfoot she entered the orbit of the John Birch Society. A Birch Society section leader in the Chicago area invited Lola to attend JBS meetings—and thus began her indoctrination into JBS dogma. However, her alarmist and inflammatory statements and assertions during her JBS-sponsored speeches produced numerous inquiries to the FBI which requested the Bureau’s evaluation of her credibility. By 1966, one note from FBI Director Hoover’s office observed:
“After she was discontinued as an informant, she displayed signs of emotional instability and it was necessary to admonish her to cease making false statements which were embarrassing to the Bureau.” [FBI HQ file 134-4473; no serial number, 10/3/66 “Office of the Director” note]. See copy here:
……….LOLA ON NAACP………..
Prior to appearing on the Birch Society’s lecture circuit as a paid speaker Lola (like Julia Brown) characterized CPUSA attempts to infiltrate NAACP as unsuccessful due to the anti-Communist leadership of the NAACP. Only after joining the JBS as paid speakers did both Lola and Julia dramatically change their tune.
Lola discussed CPUSA attempts to infiltrate NAACP and Negro American Labor Council on during her HUAC testimony:
“I was on the NAACP caucus of the Communist Party from 1957 until 1959. I was nominated as secretary for the NAACP against the incumbent, and at that time we lost the election…Subsequently, the national office declared the election valid and the Party slate was thrown out. After the Party slate was thrown out, the Party caucus had a meeting in 1960 and decided to pull its forces out of the NAACP because they realized they could not work in the NAACP effectively.” [Communist Activities in The Chicago Illinois Area, part 1; Hearings before the House Committee on Un-American Activities; May 25-27 and June 22, 1965, page 372.]
HUAC Chairman Edwin Willis then asked Lola:
“Do I take it that these caucuses in the NAACP were not with the knowledge or approval of the leadership of the NAACP?” [Ibid]
“It definitely was not with the knowledge…I want it to be very clear the leadership of either organization did not know that the CP had caucuses working in their respective organizations. When they found it out, they found out who they were, they immediately dropped them from the membership list.” [Ibid]
………JBS on NAACP……….
By contrast, the JBS description of the NAACP and its leaders (Walter White and Roy Wilkins) focused on all the alleged “Communist affiliations” which NAACP officials had.
For example, the following comments are excerpts from the Birch Society’s summary about the NAACP which is published in Volume 1 of its Biographical Dictionary of the Left (pages 140-153):
“In 1923, the NAACP began to receive grants from the Garland Fund which was a major source for the financing of Communist Party enterprises.”
“The indefatigable Walter F. White, NAACP Executive Secretary, was weekly in Washington cultivating white power which was often Red.”
“[Walter] White, as George Schuyler noted, worked hand-in-hand with the Communists. Wilkins, on the NAACP’s staff since 1931, went out of his way to praise the Communist Party for the help it gave to the Negroes. And from 1937 until 1949, Wilkins was affiliated with a number of Communist fronts and enterprises.”
In commenting upon Manning Johnson, (another African-American who had been a Communist Party member but who later associated himself with the John Birch Society) the JBS observed:
“He did testify as to the Communist character of the NAACP since he has been assigned the job of bringing Negro organizations into the Communist orbit.”
Other JBS comments about NAACP:
“From it inception to the present, no matter the protestations of Langston Hughes or any other NAACP apologist, the organization’s officials and its known members, collectively and individually, have represented the influential left, the leadership of Communist fronts, and leftwing political and pacifist groups, and the most effective of the anti-anti-Communist establishment.”
“The relationship between the NAACP and the Communist Party has been demonstrable through the activities of those attorneys who have held office in the NAACP, its branches, or the ‘Committee of 100’ which supports the NAACP’s Legal Defense and Educational Fund.”
…….FBI on NAACP………
The Bureau prepared two comprehensive monographs on the history of “The Communist Party and the Negro“. In the October 1956 edition, the Bureau concluded:
“Persons identified with the Communist Party and the NAACP have, in the past, acted jointly and frequently engaged in parallel activities. However, it must be kept in mind that the ultimate aims of these two groups are entirely distinct. The CP seeks to foster discord and discontent among the Negro race by agitation and propaganda…whereas the goal of the NAACP is to achieve full racial integration and equality within the present form of government. It is to be noted that the CPUSA, in order to confuse the American people, is attempting to make its policies parallel to those of the NAACP on controversial, racial issues….The NAACP held its 47th annual convention in San Francisco CA from June 26 to July 1, 1956. It re-affirmed its anti-communist position and at the same time extended its policy of non-cooperation with communist-controlled groups to declare communists ineligible for membership in the NAACP.”
The monograph then goes on to discuss attempts by Communists to infiltrate and use NAACP chapters around the country and how local NAACP leaders repulsed such attempts.
Also see 8/23/63 FBI monograph “Communist Party USA—Negro Question”, pages 15-17:
“The CP has at various times during the existence of the NAACP evidenced interest in infiltrating the NAACP…In view of the CP’s interest in and attempts to infiltrate the NAACP the FBI had conducted an investigation to determine the results of the Party’s efforts….This investigation, together with our over-all coverage and investigation of the CP, has disclosed that some local NAACP chapters have been infiltrated by CP members but the CP, on a national level, has not been successful in influencing the NAACP or its policies. While some local chapters have been infiltrated, the CP members in such locals do not exercise any influence therein. In other areas the local CP’s are not taking any action to infiltrate the local chapters. The following are specific examples:
On March 25, 1963, there was no CP influence in the St. Louis NAACP.
On April 3, 1963, there was no current CP program to infiltrate or attempt to gain domination of the NAACP in Los Angeles.
On April 4, 1963, the Party in Philadelphia had shown no intention of infiltrating the NAACP.” [HQ 100-3-116, #253X]
Also see Bircher Julia Brown’s 1966 book for confirmation of this point.
“Many times I have been asked if the NAACP was a Communist front organization. I have been able to say, truthfully, that, so far as I could discern, it was not. Indeed the great Walter White, executive secretary of the NAACP prior to his death, fought Communism with might and main. Older NAACP leaders have been equally fierce in their opposition to the Red conspiracy. But it has only been by dint of great effort on the part of these loyal men and women that the Party has been thwarted in its attempts to completely dominate the NAACP.” … [Julia Brown, I Testify: My Years As An FBI Undercover Agent, Western Islands, 1966, pages 124-125.
Notice, too, Julia’s praise for Walter White versus the opposite conclusion reached by the Birch Society cited in the “JBS on NAACP” section above.
Julia also mentions that the wife of one prominent CPUSA official “hated the NAACP as did all other Communists.” (Ibid, page 125]
And referring to the Communist Party attempt to exploit the murder of 14 year old Emmett Till to its advantage, Julia observed:
“Greater success might have attended these efforts had the Party not been opposed by the NAACP…The CPUSA criticized the NAACP bitterly for not conducting a more militant campaign of protests and demonstrations. The NAACP ‘adamantly refused’ to ‘let itself’ be used, and counseled its members to avoid any action which would reflect adversely on Negroes.” [Ibid, page 165].
In addition, see Julia’s comment in her March 1961 Ebony magazine interview entitled “I Was A Spy For The FBI“, wherein she stated that Communists had “little or no influence” within the NAACP and she concluded that:
“I’m 100 percent with the NAACP and I think they are doing a wonderful job. Top government officials are aware that the NAACP is legal and is working in the American way for first class citizenship for all Americans.”
Incidentally, in a previous 1953 edition of the FBI monograph, the NAACP is discussed at much greater length in a section whose caption is: “The Communist Party and Legitimate Negro Protest and Improvement Organizations.” The report confirms Julia’s observation about Communist Party contempt for NAACP leadership and policies.
In 1964, J. Edgar Hoover met with American Legion National Commander Don Johnson. Hoover discussed his feud with Martin Luther King Jr. But in contrast, according to a FBI memo summarizing the meeting, Hoover gave this evaluation of NAACP Executive Secretary Roy Wilkins:
“He also referred to Roy Wilkins. He mentioned that Wilkins was a responsible type individual attempting to do a good job.” [HQ 94-1-17998, #1741 which is an 11/11/64 memo from Assistant Director C.D. DeLoach regarding Hoover’s meeting on 11/10/64 with American Legion National Commander Don Johnson, page 2]
In early April 1947, NAACP Executive Secretary Walter White wrote to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover to request a statement by Hoover on the NAACP which the organization could use in a pamphlet it was preparing. Hoover replied with the following statement:
“Equality, freedom, and tolerance are essential in a democratic government. The NAACP has done much to preserve these principles and to perpetuate the desires of our founding fathers. With best wishes and kind regards. J. Edgar Hoover.” [HQ 61-3176, serial #378X; JEH 4/14/47 letter to Walter White.]
In contrast to the JBS position, the FBI considered both Walter White and Roy Wilkins to be responsible moderate anti-Communists and it frequently praised their leadership of the NAACP. Roy Wilkins was one of the black leaders whom the FBI thought most desirable to replace Martin Luther King Jr. as the leading advocate for African-Americans.
A 1955 FBI memo summarized data in the Bureau’s file on the NAACP with respect to Communist Party interest in the organization:
Pg 1: “NAACP incorporated in New York City in 1911. Declared aim is to secure full citizenship for Negroes. Bureau is in receipt of reports since 1941 re Communist attempts to infiltrate NAACP. CP has had measure of success in controlling isolated chapters but unable to dominate the organization on state or national level. National Convention of NAACP in 1955 reaffirmed stand taken at 1950 convention to oppose Communism…Dominant figures are Roy Wilkins and Thurgood Marshall, executive secretary and special counsel, respectively, who have been associated with CP front organizations in 1940’s but now appear to be strongly anti-Communist.
Pg 4: “All Negro Party members have been instructed to join NAACP chapters to exert their influence in NAACP programs. Local chapters in some localities, e.g Chicago, have been penetrated to the extent that CP members have become officers of these chapters. However, most chapters, as well as the national office, are acutely aware of the constant attempt on the part of the CP to dominate these local groups and are actively combating the Communists in their efforts.” [HQ 61-3176, serial #1077; 10/21/55 memo from A.H. Belmont to L.V. Boardman.]
In April 1968, FBI Assistant Director William Sullivan prepared a paper for publication in Religion In Life, a journal produced by the University of North Carolina Law School.
In a section captioned “Gains In Equality”, Sullivan discusses “precedent-establishing Negroes (who) through hard work and abundance of ability and talent have become nationally and internationally prominent.”
Among the persons he cited as deserving of respect and praise and “outstanding recognition” were the following individuals whom the Birch Society considered as anything but deserving of respect and praise:
Thurgood Marshall, U.S. Supreme Court Justice and former General Counsel of NAACP; Robert C. Weaver, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development; Ralph Bunche (who) “has ably served this country at the United Nations”; Carl Rowan “who has served his country with distinction”; Roy Wilkins, A. Philip Randolph and Whitney Young (who) “have used their great skill and resources to gain so much for their fellow Negroes through remedies available under the law.” [William C. Sullivan, Communism and the American Negro, Winter 1968 Religion in Life, page 600]
…….A. PHILIP RANDOLPH………
During her 5/25/65 HUAC testimony Lola described A. Phillip Randolph as “anti-Communist”.
In her HUAC testimony Lola described the formation of the Negro American Labor Council in 1960:
“It was organized by A. Philip Randolph with trade union leaders all over the country. They definitely were not Communists. As you know, Mr. Randolph is not a Communist and…most of the national executive board members or vice presidents were not Communists.” [Communist Activities in The Chicago Illinois Area, part 1; Hearings before the House Committee on Un-American Activities; May 25-27 and June 22, 1965, page 372.]
By contrast, the JBS characterized Randolph as a fellow-traveler, (or worse).
After presenting a lengthy litany about Randolph’s alleged connections to subversive organizations, the closing sentence in the Birch’s Society’s summary about Randolph provides a classic example of Birch guilt-by-innuendo: “Randolph learned his lessons well as he rubbed elbows with Communists over the past three decades.” [Francis X. Gannon, Biographical Dictionary of the Left, Volume 1, page 488.]
The FBI position on Randolph and the NALC:
“CP members have opposed A. Philip Randolph, President of the NALC since its founding convention, primarily because of his opposition to CP infiltration of the organization.” [HQ 100-3-116, #253X = 8/23/63 FBI monograph “Communist Party USA—Negro Question”, page 20]
For additional information concerning Lola Belle Holmes and Julia Brown and the Birch Society’s attack on NAACP see my August 2008 26-page report on former FBI Special Agent Dan Smoot at: http://ernie1241.googlepages.com/smoot
…….NATIONAL URBAN LEAGUE……..
In early 1965 Lola went to work for the Chicago chapter of the National Urban League. At that time, the national leader of the Urban League was Whitney Young Jr. whom the JBS described as “an ultra-liberal politician, a socialist ideologue, an affiliate of ultra-leftwingers, and a suave but militant racist agitator.” [Francis X. Gannon, Biographical Dictionary of the Left, Volume 1, page 611.]
Understandably, none of the Birch Society’s publicity releases about Lola mentioned her association with, and employment by the Urban League!
To continue to Chapter 8 regarding “Right-Wing Critics of the Birch Society” – see:
To continue to Chapter 9 which is “Documentary History of the John Birch Society“, – see: