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Hammer and HoeAlabama Communists during the Great Depression$
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Robin D. G. Kelley

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781469625485

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469625485.001.0001

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The CIO’s in Dixie!

The CIO’s in Dixie!

(p.138) Seven The CIO’s in Dixie!
Hammer and Hoe

Robin D. G. Kelley

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter discusses the formation of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) in 1935, which fanned the flames of anti-Communism while simultaneously creating opportunities for Communists in the labor movement. In Birmingham, the CIO was more than just a federation of labor organizations. The CIO offered activists strength in numbers, security, interracial unity, and legitimacy—goals that Alabama Communists had hoped to achieve through the Popular Front. Thus, it should not be surprising that black Communists devoted more time and energy to the CIO, contributing to the decline of the Party. Most Blacks who left the Party during the Popular Front were not disillusioned with the goals or ideals of the movement; they simply found a better vehicle through which to realize these goals. For some black working people, the CIO was the first real alternative to the Communist Party; for others, the CIO became the Party.

Keywords:   Congress of Industrial Organizations, Communists, Birmingham, Alabama, labor movement, anti-Communism, John L. Lewis, unionism

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