The was the rise of the industrial

The Russian Revolution is considered one
of the most critical events of the twentieth century. It was critical in
European history because it ended centuries of Russian imperial ruling and the
start of new social change under the guidance of Lenin. It’s impact not only
changed European politics and society, but inspired global change. The Russian
Revolution encouraged people to protest racism and imperialism, namely
disenfranchised black Americans and European colonial subjects. This revolution
promised a world without class and racial oppression and exploitation. In the
United States, black Americans used the message of social, class, and racial
equity influenced by this revolution, resulting in the Civil Rights Movement.  I am going to
explore the impact that the Russian Revolution had on African Americans.

            In 1917, the world witnessed the
collapse of the Russian Empire. Tsar Nicholas II’s empire experienced economic
stagnation, where the proletariat – the working class, farmers, and other wage
earners – suffered from the Tsar’s policies (Hogsbjerg,2017). This resulted in
the revolution, where Marxist socialists such as Vladimir Lenin, Leon Tolstoy, and
the Bolsheviks desired to form a government based on communist ideals. Lenin, a
Bolshevik leftist, rose to power and abolished the practice of the czarist
rule. Lenin intended the working class, peasants, and soldiers to have more
influence in the new Soviet government. This distinction was important in that
these groups of people were the main protestors. The first party were the
peasants, who made up most of the population in Russia. They were excessively
poor and could barely escape famine, second party was the rise of the
industrial working class. The working class consisted of people working in the
mines, factories and workshops. These people suffered from low wages, poor housing
and many hazardous conditions in the workplace. Lastly, the Russian people
disapproved of Tsar Nicholas II, as he was more involved with his family than
the matters of the state. These three factors would contribute to the rise of
Russian Revolution. This sparked the beginning of a new era in Russia, the
revolution also influenced other class movements in countries around the world.
This drastic end to the Romanov Dynasty – therefore, centuries of Russian
Imperial rule – instigated global movements, namely in the United States.

            The Russian Revolution under Lenin
leadership, Russia withdrew from Europe and its imperialist conflict and
resolved quickly in its own towards a communist system. This communist system
would free Russia from class conflict and imperialist wars. The Russian people
were being oppressed by the Czarist government, just as African Americans were
being oppressed by segregation, inequality and race in the United States. The
Russians had a dream about the revolution just like Martin Luther King  who was a civil rights leader he had a dream
that someday African Americans would have equality just like the white men.
Throughout history African Americans have endured discrimination they were not
allowed to attend the same school as the white folks, church or even same
public restroom. Imagine having to face discrimination on a daily base and then
society wants you to live a segregate life no wonder a lot of African American
accepted the ideology of communism because they wanted a social change in their
society. The Communist party influence on African Americans came during a time
when African Americans strived for a change. This change would consist of equal
rights, hopes for optimism against racism, imperialism and exploitation. African
Americans had little or no rights they were treated like peasants.

 The
communist regime gave African Americans high expectation for justice. The
oppression of black people had been a fundamental part of capitalism in the
United States. The fight for black freedom has gone through a corresponding
series of phases from slave rebellions to the abolitionist movement to the
struggle of black workers. Karl Marx explained, “Labor in the white skin can
never free itself as long as labor in the black skin is branded (Taylor,2011).
His words reflected the treatment of African Americans who were being ignored
on the consciousness of the white workers. Communism became a platform for
African American it worked in their favor it allowed for African Americans to
stand up against social injustice and to have a voice in society. As we see in
Glimore book ” The reddest of the Blacks” this book discusses about the
presence and influence of communism and its ideologies on black Americans
during the civil rights movement it also examines how communism affected the
black community leaders in the United States. Martin Luther King and the
southern communist contribution to social justice in the southern states.
African Americans in the south were fed up with society and wanted a social
change and we see that 49 members of Charlotte who were brave and made the
decision to join the communist party to improve their lives. Gilmore also
discusses about Martin Luther King acknowledges 
communism and he starts to work for racial justice during the Mccarthy
era also the role of the FBI in regards to spying on African Americans. Another
article where the communist intervened is in  Robin, Kelley book “Hammer and Hoe” the story
takes place in Alabama during the 1930’s and we see the courage and
perseverance of black communist workers underground in the dangerous south. The
communist party led about 5,000 tobacco workers they rallied around the
defendants in the infamous Scottsboro case, which would eventually set legal
precedents against all white juries. The story of Hammer and Hoe demonstrates
the important issue that fights can be won, racism cannot be overcome under
capitalism, which successfully uses police-state terrorism up to this day. The
solution is that a revolution can overthrow a capitalist state and eliminate
all oppression and exploitation of workers.

Marxism is the understanding that
capitalism is an economic system with two major classes. One of the classes
being capitalist and the other being the working class which is most of the
population. In this type of system, the profits were being made by paying
employees less wages and making them work in horrible conditions. The
capitalist controlled means of production and this to Marx was exploitation of
workers.

Marx’s theory about capitalism in the
United States focuses on attempts by capitalists to divide black and white
workers. If white workers identify primarily as whites, rather than as workers,
they will not act in their common class interests with black workers. The way
to end racial oppression and class exploitation is an interracial and united
working class.

African Americans had been facing racism
and the origins of this is traced back to the European conquest of the
Americas. Racism in the United States is defined as the systematic oppression
of African-Americans and other people of color and the related ideology of
white supremacy and black inferiority. These two aspects of racism have shaped
U.S. society even till today. The slave trade created much of the wealth
subsequently invested in textile, shipbuilding and other emerging capitalist
enterprises in the Northeast United States and Europe. Marxists call this the
“primitive accumulation of capital” (Taylor, 2011). The ideology of black
inferiority developed as a rationalization or justification for slavery; it was
not the cause of slavery. This racist ideology spreads throughout the United States.

During the 1930s the Communist Party
became very significant and popular in the black working class. The Communist
Party’s work in the Scottsboro Boys case, showed that they wanted African
Americans to have equality in society. In the case of the Scottsboro boys where
the communist party defended nine young black men falsely accused of raping two
white women in Alabama, this horrible situation was the key to developing their
base among African Americans. The communist party was also involved in another
case as we see in Lloyd Brown’s “Iron City” this article narrates the story of
a group of incarcerated African Americans communist and the relationship they
have with a man named Lonnie James, who is wrongfully accused and sentenced to
death for the murder of a white drug store owner. Lonnie confesses to the
murder he did not commit because he understands the judicial process and racism
targeting African Americans. One of the prisoners understands the racist
implications of Lonnie imprisonment identifies this interrogation as “legal
lynching” and compares it to the Scottsboro boys, the racist practices of the
legal system prompt the intervention of the Communist party. During the
Scottsboro Boy case they were the first political party to help and this was to
their advantage. This is during a time where the term communism has a tainted
image in the south

 

 The
communist party used the failure of capitalism and used this case to show they
support for African American equality. The Communist party then launched a
nationwide “Free the Scottsboro Boys” campaign (Sorensen, 2004). The
ideology of the communist party paved the way for what would become the civil
rights movements of the 1960 they also were responsible for the emerging
African Americans and white working class leaders who would play a role in the
civil rights and black power movements. The communist party wanted for African
American to have equality but, being associated with the party had its
consequences people were blacklisted and also 
under  surveillance by the FBI  for many 
years. We see thisin the case of 
Paul Robeson. In the article “Paul Robeson and the Black Press” the
world’s famous man Paul Robeson who was an African-American athlete, actor and for
the civil rights of people around the world. He rose to prominence in a time
when segregation was legal in the United States, and Black people were being
lynched by racist mobs, especially in the South. In this article the United
States  government has banned Paul
Robeson from traveling overseas. Robeson was known as a communist sympathizer
and the government feared his actions so during the student peace conference
that was held in Paris in 1949,  Robeson  was vocal about the mistreatment of African
Americans questioned why African Americans had to fight in the army when the
United States could not even tolerate racism within its own country. This was
at a time when the cold war was happening and the tension between the United
States and Russia was intense and anyone who had something negative to say
about the United States faced backlash. In the case of Robeson he was
addressing an issue about racism because of his outspokenness, he was accused
by the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) of being a Communist.
Robeson saw this as an attack on the democratic rights of everyone who worked
for international friendship and for equality. This almost ended Robeson career
and the government condoned his actions by confiscating his passport in an
attempt to stop Robeson from talking and writing about the issues that African
Americans faced in the United States and the colonies. During the Hoover
administration Robeson was under the watchful eye of the FBI and it would take
him eight years to obtain his passport back. Communism effected people in
different ways some people benefitted like in the case of Scottsboro boys and
some people like Robeson it backfired on them.

 

Another activist that we covered in class
is Angela Davis her work has intrigued me and she is fascinated person to learn
about. Angela Davis was born on January 26. 1944 in Birmingham Alabama she was
an educator, scholar and politician. Davis upbringing paved the way for her to
be involved in the civil rights movement. Her mother was an active member of
the NAACP, when it was dangerous to be openly associated with the organization
because of its civil rights activities. Davis went on to get her masters from
New York University. While she was attending New York University she was introduced to the
ideas of socialism and communism, joining a Marxist-Leninist. Davis was a
strong believer in the communist party and spoke on how communism was great for
African Americans.  Angela Davis stated,
“the only path of liberation for black people is that which leads toward
complete and radical overthrow of the capitalist class.” (Chandler, pg.
50). Capitalism is an economic and political system in which a country’s trade
and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the
state. Her knowledge on communist made her strive for equal rights and this
allowed her to make speeches across the country. By 1980 she became the Vice
President of the Communist Party this allowed for Davis help to raise awareness
of the Communist Party within the African American community (Joseph, 2006).
Angela Davis, she went on to be the founder of the National Alliance Against
Racist and Political Oppression. In the wake of the collapse of the Soviet
Union Davis and others formed a dissenting wing of the U.S. Communist Party and
challenged the party to reject Leninism and take a more moderate stance; when
it failed to do so they split from the CPUSA, defining themselves as democratic
socialists and taking the name Committees of Correspondence for
Democracy and Socialism in 2000.. The communist movement
paved the way for civil rights movement and we see it broke  down barriers like segregation, and introduced
a legislation like in the case of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka which allowed
black people to be equal to white people.

 

 

The Russian
Revolution was just the beginning of a series of events that occurred in
history that would pave the way in aspiring African Americans to stand up and
fight against optimism and racism. The ideologies of Marxism and the
involvement of the communist party in the Scottsboro boys greatly influenced
the black movement and made the world aware about the conflict that African Americans
were facing not just within the United States but worldwide. The outcome of
revolution gave us many amazing activist and political figures such as Angela
Davis and Paul Robeson outspoken nature and activism helped others understand
communism and this paved the way for future leader that we have seen in the
civil rights movement.