The Negro Worker

Notes for Introduction

1. A former postal-worker, Ford became the most prominent African-American member of the CP U.S., running several times as its candidate for Vice-President.

2. Born in Arouca, Trinidad, as Malcolm Nurse (a family name associated with Barbados), he worked as a journalist before, in 1924, quitting Trinidad for the U.S. This was an unusual destination in that period, as most went to Europe. He briefly attended Fisk and Howard universities. In 1927, at about the time he joined the U.S. Communist Party, he adopted the nom de guerre ‘George Padmore’ (another Barbadian name).

3. Having been deprived of its colonies as a loser of World War I, Germany could be sanguine about the presence on its territory of others empires’ anti-colonialists.

4. J.W. Ford, “The ITUCNW,” InPreCorr 10:23 (15 May 1930), 417-19.

5. James Ford, “The International Conference of Negro Workers,” The Liberator (10 May 1930), 4; (17 May 1930), 4; ITUCNW, A Report of the Proceedings and Decisions of the First International Conference of Negro Workers (Hamburg: ITUCNW, 1930); V. Chattopadhyaya, “The First International Conference of Negro Workers,” International Negro Workers’ Review III:Special (15 Oct. 1930), 3-4; L. Spitzer and L. Denzer, “I.T.A. Wallace-Johnson and the West African Youth League,” International Journal of African Historical Studies VI:3 (1973), 419.

6. See Ken Post, Arise Ye Starveling: The Jamaica Labour Rebellion of 1938 and its Aftermath (The Hague: Martinus Nijoff, 1978), 5.

7. The first Black African Secretary-General of the South African Communist Party, Nzula was tragically addicted to alcohol. He died in early 1934, in Moscow. His age is disputed, with some giving it as 29, others 33; Robin Cohen, “Introduction” to A. Nzula, I.I. Potekhin and A.Z. Zusmanovich, Forced Labour in Colonial Africa (London: Zed Books, 1979). For an interesting review see Robert Edgar, “Notes on the Life and Death of Albert Nzula,” International Journal of African Historical Studies 16:4 (1981), 675-79. Note also Paul Trewhela, “The Death of Albert Nzula and the Silence of George Padmore,” Searchlight South Africa I:1 (Sept. 1988), 64-69.

8. Minute initialed ‘TDS’, 15 Jan. 1930, CO 87/229/12.

9. Robert Hill, “Huiswoud, Otto E. (1893-1961),” Biographical Dictionary of the American Left, B.K. Johnpoll and H. Klehr, eds. (Westport: Greenwood, 1986), 220. Note also Maria Cijntje-Van Enckevort, “The Life and Work of Otto Huiswoud: Professional Revolutionary and Internationalist [1893-1961]” (Ph.D. dissertation, University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica, 2001) and Joyce Moore Turner’s Caribbean Crusaders and the Harlem Renaissance (Urbana: Illinois University Press, 2005).

10. ITUCNW, A Report of the Proceedings and Decisions of the First International Conference of Negro Workers (Hamburg: ITUNCW, 1930), 30-7.

11. Harry Haywood, Black Bolshevik (Chicago: Liberator, 1978), 328-31. On their participation in the RILU Congress see the Negro Worker I:2 (1931), 15-19. Harry Haywood (1898-1985) was an African-American veteran of World War I, a railway-worker, a member of the African Blood Brotherhood, then of the Communist Party. He was very influential in the COMINTERN’s adoption of the concept of the right of African-America to self-determination. A veteran of the Spanish anti-fascist war and, during World War II, a member of the merchant marine, he was eventually expelled from the C.P. US as a ‘counter-revisionist’. Late in life he became a Maoist.

12. Note, for example, file CO 694/29/61540 containing material on Padmore and an ITUCNW circular to contacts in England ‘Destroyed Under Statute’.

13. George Padmore, “Au Revoir,” Negro Worker III:8-9 (1933), 18.

14. Bertold Brecht, “To Those Born Later,” Poems, 1913-56 (London: Methuen, 1976), 318.

15. For a Stalinist view of his expulsion see Haywood, Black Bolshevik, 428-9; otherwise, E.T. Wilson, Russia and Black Africa Before World War II (The Hague: Martinus Nijoff, 1978), 260-3, and C.L.R. James, “George Padmore: Black Marxist Revolutionary, A Memoir,” At the Rendezvous of Victory: Selected Writings, Volume 3 (London: Allison & Busby, 1984), 254.

16. “James Ford Answers Padmore’s Charges,” The Negro Liberator (4 Aug. 1934); “Ford Terms Padmore ‘police agent’,” Negro Liberator (25 Aug. 1934).

17. George Padmore, “Ethiopia and World Politics,” The Crisis 42:5 (1935), 138-ff, and “An Open Letter to Earl Browder,” 42:10 (1935), 302-15.

18. The Crisis 42:12 (1935), 372.

19. J. Ayo Langley, “Pan-Africanism in Paris, 1924-36,” Journal of Modern African Studies 7:1 (1969), 69-94; Maria Van Enckevort, “The Caribbean Diaspora in France in the 1930s: From an anti-colonial perspective,” Papers of the 25th Conference of the Association of Caribbean Historians (Mona, Jamaica, 1993).

20. Anne Chisholm, Nancy Cunard (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1979), Chapters 20 and 21.

21. In early 1931 James went to England – specifically, Nelson in Lancashire – where he made a living, in cooperation with Leary Constantine, writing about cricket. Almost immediately, he published The Life of Captain Cipriani, reprinted the following year as The Case for West Indian Self-Government. He also brought-out a novel about Trinidad working-class life, Minty Alley. Joining the Trotskyist Marxist Group within the Independent Labour Party, James spoke widely for the Trotsky Defence Committee on the Moscow Trials, and in 1937 published World Revolution, 1917-36: The Rise and Fall of the Communist International. In 1938 he published his most enduring work, The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L’Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution. He was in Paris for the founding of the Fourth International.

22. This lasted until 1953, when he left the U.S. under threat of deportation to return to England. In 1958 he returned to Trinidad, but soon fell-out with his former student, Eric Williams (1911-1981), by then Trinidad & Tobago’s first Prime Minister. In 1963 James returned to England, then made a second U.S. sojourn. He spent the last few years of his life in Brixton, London.

23. Seven issues were published, July 1938-June 1939.