American Reds

Full-length video interviews from the film “American Reds,” which chronicled the emergence of American Communism.

Anne Burlak-Timpson (1911-2002) was a labor and civil rights activist and the daughter of Ukrainian immigrants.  She joined the Young Communist League when she was 15 years old and spent many of her years involved in union organizing.  In 1956 she was arrested for charges under the Smith Act, but the case was later dropped.

Malcolm Cowley (1898-1989) was a social historian, editor, writer and literary critic. In 1935, Cowley helped to establish the League of American Writers, which attempted to persuade the United States to fight against fascism in the Spanish Civil War.

Sam Darcy (1905-2005) was a Communist Party leader in both the CPUSA and the Communist Party International. Darcy was known for his help in organizing New York City’s first unemployment march in 1930, and was celebrated for his role with the Communist Party in California in the 1934 San Francisco General Strike. In 1934, he made an unsuccessful run for governor of California. He left the CPUSA in 1945 due to differences with Earl Browder, the one-time head of the Communist Party.

Max Gordon

Sid Stein

Max Weiss

Gil Green (1906-1997) was a leading figure in the Communist Party of the United States of America.  He is known for his involvement in the Young Communist League, which was the party’s youth organization, during the 1930s.  As a youth, he joined the Young Workers League (later the Young Communist League) and eventually became its national secretary.  Green was convicted under the Smith Act in 1949, and imprisoned from 1956 until 1961.  He left the CP in 1991 and went on to help found the Committees of Correspondence.

Gus Hall (1910-2000) was the general secretary of the Communist Party of the United States of America and the Party’s candidate for president during four election years in the 1970s and 1980s.  In the late 1940s, he was one of 11 party leaders convicted of conspiring to overthrow the government under the Smith Act and was sentenced to prison for five years.  After fleeing to Mexico while on bail, he was recaptured and jailed until 1957.  Hall remained an active member and the general secretary of the CPUSA until his death in 2000.

John Hammond (1910-1987) was a civil rights activist, a record producer and a board member for the NAACP.  Although he was never a member of the Communist Party, he supported many leftwing causes and fought segregation within the jazz and entertainment industries. 

John Houseman (1902-1988) was a British-American actor and producer.  He was subpoenaed by the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) regarding the influence of Communism in the film industry.  Although he never joined the party himself, he worked frequently with members of the Communist Party. 

 

Edna Ocko Meyers

 

Steve Nelson (1903-1993) was a labor activist, a former Communist Party official, the Political Commissar in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade and a Spanish Civil War veteran.  Nelson was convicted under the Smith Act in the 1950s.  He left the Communist Party in 1957 after Khrushchev’s report on the atrocities of the Stalin regime.  In 1963, Nelson became the National Commander of the Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, an organization that was established during the Spanish Civil War to aid returning veterans and support the fight against fascism.

Clarence Norris (1913-1989) was known for being a defendant in a court case where nine African-American defendants were falsely accused of raping two white women in the south, known later as the “Scottsboro Boys” rape case. Norris was sentenced to death three times, spent 15 years in prison and later became a fugitive when he violated his parole. When he was 64 years old, the Alabama Pardon and Parole Board found him innocent of the rape charges.

 

Robert Schrank

 

Pete Seeger (1919-2014) was a social activist and a popular American folk artist.  He joined the Young Communist League in 1936 at the age of 17, and later became a member of the Communist Party of the United States.  He left the Party in 1949 after his disagreement regarding Soviet Communism.  He was opposed to war and this could be noticed through his songs, some of which centered around the Spanish Civil War and the Vietnam War. 
Edith Segal (1902-1997) was a member of the Needle Trades Workers Industrial Union and a resident of New York City’s Lower East Side.  She was best known as being a leftist dancer and for her choreographed dances on race relations, including Scottsboro and Black and White.  She staged dances for Communist Party rallies and helped found the Workers Dance League.  In her later years, she taught at Camp Kinderland, a Jewish-socialist camp.
Will Weinstone

Henry Winston (1912-1986) was an African-American political leader, the chairman of the Communist Party of the United States of America and a civil rights activist.  Winston spent over five years in prison for conspiring to overthrow the government under the Smith Act.  His sentence was commuted in 1961 by President Kennedy.  During his time in prison, he had an untreated brain tumor that caused him to go blind.  He eventually filed a suit against the Federal Government arguing that negligence by prison officials had caused his blindness.  He later dropped the case, even though the U.S. Supreme Court upheld his right to sue.