African America, Communists, and the National Negro Congress, 1933-1947

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The National Negro Congress was established in 1936 to "secure the right of the Negro people to be free from Jim Crowism, segregation, discrimination, lynching, and mob violence" and "to promote the spirit of unity and cooperation between Negro and white people." It was conceived as a national coalition of church, labor, and civil rights organizations that would coordinate protest action in the face of deteriorating economic conditions for blacks. The National Negro Congress (NNC) was the culmination of the Communist Party’s Depression-era effort to unite black and white workers and intellectuals in the fight for racial justice, and marked the apex of Communist Party prestige in African American communities. This collection comprises of the voluminous working files of John P. Davis and successive executive secretaries of the National Negro Congress. Beginning with papers from 1933 that predate the formation of the National Negro Congress, the wide-ranging collection documents Davis’s involvement in the Negro Industrial League and includes the "Report Files" of Davis’s interest and work on the "Negro problem."

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Archives Unbound Series

Introducing Archives Unbound -- a vast new resource that combines the best of legacy microfilms from Gale and Primary Source Media and new, never-before-filmed collections. Specifically developed to address the needs of individual scholars, universities, and organizations, Archives Unbound is unique not only for its expansive, multi-disciplinary content but also for the distinct new intuitive search platform by which it is accessed.

Features and Benefits

  • On the grassroots level, the Congress helped organize boycotts, rent strikes, and other direct action protests against racial discrimination.
  • The NNC persuaded the WPA Federal Writers Project to guarantee positions for African American writers and artists.
  • President Franklin D. Roosevelt sent greetings to annual meetings of the NNC; and the NAACP’s Walter White felt compelled to participate in the radical NNC.