Civil Rights Congress

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The Civil Rights Congress (CRC) was cited as subversive and Communist by President Harry S. Truman's Attorney General Thomas Clark on the Attorney General's list furnished to the Loyalty Review Board and released to the press by the U.S. Civil Service Commission on December 4, 1947 and September 21, 1948. In the House UnAmerican Activities Report on the Civil Rights Congress, it was cited as an organization formed in April 1946 as a merger of two other Communist-front organizations, the International Labor Defense (ILD) and the National Federation for Constitutional Liberties (NFCL); "dedicated no to the broader issues of civil liberties, but specicially to the defense of individual Communists and the Communist Party" and "controlled by individuals who are either members of the Communist Party or openly loyal to it." The organization was redesignated on April 27, 1953 the U.S. Attorney General pursuant to Executive Order N. 10450.[1]

International Labor Defense (ILD) national secretary William Patterson led the group throughout its existence.[2] President Barack Obama's early mentor, Frank Marshall Davis, served on the organizations National Executive Board.[3] Patterson also headed the communist front organization, the Abraham Lincoln School in Chicago, with Davis also on the faculty and Baord of Directors.[4]

In December, 1947, the National Negro Congress was merged with the CRC.

In 1951, the Civil Rights Congress issued its a petition to the United Nations entitled, We Charge Genocide, The Historic Petition to the United Nations for Relief from a Crime of the United States Government Against the Negro People.[5]

The editor of the petition is was William Patterson. The staff for the petition included Richard O. Boyer, Howard Fast, Dr. Oakley Johnson, Leon Josephson, and Elizabeth Lawson. The petitioners include Isadore Begun, Richard O. Boyer, Benjamin J. Davis, Jr., Howard Fast, James Ford, Abner Green, Harry Haywood, Arnold Johnson, Claudia Jones, Albert Kahn, Elizabeth Lawson, William L. Patterson, Pettis Perry, John Pittman and Paul Robeson.

The introduction by William Patterson reads as follows:

It is sometimes incorrectly thought that genocide means the complete and definite destruction of a race or people. The Genocide Convention, however, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1948, defines genocide as any killings on the basis of race, or, in its specific words, as "killing members of the group." Any intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, racial, ethnic or religious group is genocide, according to the Convention. Thus, the Convention states, "causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group" is genocide as well as "killing members of the group."

You will recall that the U.S. Supreme Court said in Brown v. Board of Education on May 17, 1954, that segregated schools produce in the Negro child "a feeling of inferiority as to his status." This would imply not only that those Americans who want segregated schools are guilty of genocide, but that the genocide convention, can somehow intervene to forbid segregation.

We maintain, therefore, that the oppressed Negro citizens of the United States, segregated, discriminated against and long the target of violence, suffer from genocide as the result of the consistent, conscious, unified, policies of every branch of government.

. . . We further submit that this Convention on Genocide is, by virtue of our avowed acceptance of the Covenant of the United Nations, an inseparable part of the law of the United States of America.

. . . The General Assembly of the United Nations, by reason of the United Nations Charter and the Genocide Convention, itself is invested with power to receive this indictment and act on it.

Further reading

See also


  1. Report prepared from the files of the House Committee on Un-American Activities for Senate 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. pp. 12-14.
  2. Gerald Horne, Communist Front? The Civil Rights Congress, 1946-1956 (Rutherford: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1987); Horne, Civil Rights Congress, in Mary Jo Buhle, Paul Buhle, and Dan Georgakas, eds., Encyclopedia of the American Left (New York: Garland Publishing, 1990), 134-135,
  3. Honolulu Record, May 12 1949, v.1 no.41. p.3.
  4. Chicago Defender, October 20, 1945, cited in FBI file Frank Marshall Davis Correlation Summary 12/28/55, v.4 p.80 pdf.
  5. We Charge Genocide, The Historic Petition to the United Nations for Relief from a Crime of the United States Government Against the Negro People, (New York, Civil Rights Congress 1951).