Science and Society 75 (4):454 - 479 (2011)

The Communist Party USA's reputation for being in the forefront of the fight against African American oppression was forged in the 1930s as the result of the adoption of the Communist International's position that African Americans were an oppressed nationality. According to Marxist-Leninist doctrine, this entitled African Americans to the right to self-determination in that area of the country where they were a majority (the Black Belt South) and equal social and political rights throughout the country. The organizational internalization of this position was accomplished through numerous articles in the Party's press, which were used as educational tools for the membership. The most sustained organizing work in the South occurred in Alabama with the organizing of the Share Croppers Union (SCU). A study of the Party and the SCU in Alabama during the 1930s helps demonstrate the significance of the self-determination position and its importance in shaping the work of the Party among African Americans
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