Last modified on June 28, 2020, at 22:58

National Negro Congress

The National Negro Congress (NNC) was originally one of eleven organizations cited by President Franklin Roosevelt's Attorney General Francis Biddle in 1941 as a subversive communist front organization.[1] "The officers of the National Negro Congress are outspoken Communist sympathizers, and a majority of those on the executive board are outright Communists," the Dies Committee reported.[2] Democratic President Harry S. Truman's Attorney General Thomas Clark also cited it as subversive and Communist.[3] The organization was redesignated on April 27, 1953 pursuant to Executive Order No. 10450.[4][5]

It was the premier Communist front movement in the United States among African-Americans during the New Deal and World War II.[6][7] Singer Paul Robeson was a member since its inception.[8] President Barack Obama's early mentor, Frank Marshall Davis, had been active in the NNC since at least 1936.

In May 1947, the National Negro Congress published "a petition to the United Nations on behalf of 13 million oppressed Negro citizens of the United States of America." The "Proof in Support of the Petition" is presented under a heading called "The Oppression of the American Negro: The Facts," by Dr. Herbert Aptheker. The pamphlet begins with the following paragraphs, in an attempt to establish that the United Nations has jurisdiction to act within the United States:

4. Reference: Article 55, Sec. 1 (c), Charter of the United Nations.
"With a view to the creation of conditions of stability and well-being which are necessary for peaceful and friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, the United Nations shall promote: Universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion."

The petition asks that the UN do as follows:

2. Make such recommendations and take such other actions as it may deem proper with respect to the facts herein stated, to the end that "higher standards" in the field of human rights may be achieved in the United States of America and "discrimination and other abuses" on the grounds of race and color, may be "checked and eliminated." 3. Take such other and further steps as may seem just and proper to the end that the oppression of the American Negro be brought to an end.

CPUSA General Secretary William Z. Foster said,

There are many . . . signs, of course, of the developing national consciousness of the American Negro people They are building up many movements that are definitely of a national liberation character. They are also closely identifying themselves with the national liberation struggles of colonial peoples all over the world. They feel a kinship with these movements. Very significant in this general respect was the demand made by the National Negro Congress to the United Nations to take up the grievances of the Negro people in this country . . . Such an act was essentially that of a nation appealing over the head of the American government to the peoples of the world for justice, much as almost any other colonial or oppressed nation might do.[9]

In December, 1947, the NNC was merged with the Civil Rights Congress, which was also a Communist front organization.[10]

See also


  1. Congressional Record, September 24, 1942, pages 7687 and 7688, cited in report prepared from the public files of the House Committee on Un-American Activities for Senator William E. Jenner, Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Internal Security, October 20, 1953, reproduced in Who Was Frank Marshall Davis?, Cliff Kincaid and Herbert Romerstein, p. 13.
  2. Reports of January 3, 1939, page 81; also cited in Reports of January 25, 1942; and March 29, 1944; Ibid.
  3. Press releases of December 3, 1947 and September 21, 1948, Ibid.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Executive Order 10450--Security requirements for Government employment.
  6. Investigation of Un-American Propaganda Activities in the United States, appendix IX, Special Committee on Un-American Activites, House, 78th Congress, second session (Washington, D.D., Government Printing Office, 1944), pp. 1284-1295. Also, Hearings Regarding Infiltration of Minority Groups, vol. 3, House, 81st Congress, first session (Washington, D.C., Government Printing Office, 1949), p. 2148.
  7. Report prepared from the files of the House Committee on Un-American Activities for Senator William E. Jenner, Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Internal Security, October 20, 1953, reproduced in Who Was Frank Marshall Davis?, Cliff Kincaid and Herbert Romerstein.
  8. Paul Robeson, the Artist as Activist and Social Thinker, by John Henrik Clarke,
  9. The Communist Position on the Negro Question, (New York, New Century Publishers, 1947), pp. 14-16. Also in William Z. Foster, On the Question of Negro Self-Determination, Political Affairs, vol. 26 (January 1947) p. 54.
  10. Report on the Civil Rights Congress, House Committee on Un-American Activities (September 2, 1947).