The Negronn Question
THE most obscure and puzzling chapter in the story of American Communism has long been its one-time policy for Negroes in the South -- "the right of self-determination of the Negroes in the Black Belt." For many years this policy was exclusively associated with the Communists and, more than any other theoretical and practical program, distinguished them from other American radical movements.
To trace the development of the Communist position on the Negro question, we must roam far afield in both the Negro and Communist past. Long as the trail may be, it will take us to many forgotten phases of American n hisntory and to many of the most closely guarded secrets of American Communism.
In the older Socialist tradition, no special Negron program existed, and no need for one was recognized. The Socialist views ranged from the equality militantly espoused by William English Walling, a founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, to the racial inequality argued by Victor Berger. Segregation prevailed in the Socialist party's southern branches. The Socialist Appeal to Reason once envisioned the separation of Negroes and whites in a Socialist America with Negro cities, plantations, and shops, "black cities," as "beautiful as those the whites live in." The Socialist party, David A. Shannon wrote, "made no special effort to attract Negro members, and the party was generally disinterested in, if not actually