Science and Society 60 (2):164 - 194 (1996)

During the early years of the Great Depression, Baltimore, located at the intersection of the Jim Crow South and the industrial North, was a hostile environment for mass movements and anti-racist organizing. Nevertheless, from early 1930 on the Baltimore section of the Communist Party energetically took up a steady struggle against white supremacy in its unemployment and trade union work, during its interventions in the local Black freedom movement, and in its cultural practices. Although small in size, the Baltimore party disrupted the tense social calm that had prevailed in the wake of the crash, stimulated interracial resistance to the effects of the crisis, and catalyzed a variety of new social movements that were inherently anti-racist. Contrary to prevailing historiographical wisdom, the ultra-radical third-period approach of the international communist movement was a definite asset to Baltimore communists, although the weaknesses of this approach ultimately limited their gains and legacies.
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