African Americans and the Communist Party

BY: Jarvis Tyner| May 12, 2018
African Americans and the Communist Party

What’s the difference between socialists and communists when it comes to understanding issues of race and identity? Did the CP “take advantage” of the race issue opportunistically? Or did it have a deeper appreciation of what was inherent in Marxism?

Marx for example rejected anti-Irish prejudice among the British working class claiming there would never be a revolution unless they rid themselves of anti-Irish prejudice. “No nation can be fee so long as it oppresses others nations” he wrote.

In Capitol he struck a similar theme when discussing slavery in the U.S. “Labor in the white skin cannot be free so long as labor in the black is branded.”

In the early days of U.S. socialism, some of the movement’s  advocates, while recognizing race claimed that addressing its problems would have to wait until the socialism advent. Others, grouped in the Communist Party argued it had to be addressed in the here and now – otherwise, the working class would never arrive at socialism.  This and more is addressed by CPUSA National Committee member Jarvis Tyner in the video below:




    Jarvis Tyner is executive vice chair of the Communist Party USA and a long-time member of the party's national board.. He was a founding member of the Black Radical Congress and served on its national coordinating committee for five years.

    Tyner was born in the Mill Creek community of West Philadelphia in 1941 and graduated from West Philadelphia High School. He joined the Communist Party USA at the age of 20. After several years working in various industrial jobs in the Philadelphia area, where he was a member of the Amalgamated Lithographers and the Teamsters union, he moved to New York in 1967 to become the national chair of the DuBois Clubs of America, and later founding chair of the Young Workers Liberation League. He was the Communist Party USA candidate for vice president of the U.S. in 1972 and 1976, running with party leader Gus Hall.

    As a leader of the CPUSA Tyner has been an active public spokesperson against racism, imperialism and war. He has written numerous articles and pamphlets and appears on the media, campuses and in other public venues advocating for peace, equality and the socialist alternative. He currently resides in the Inwood section of Manhattan, N.Y., is married and the father of four adult children and one grandchild.


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