LTRP Note: The following article is from Manning Johnson’s 1958 book, Color, Communism, and Common Sense (taken from the 2021 Lighthouse Trails special edition). The reason our editors re-published this book is because Mr. Johnson’s words are so relevant they could have been written today. While some of his terminology would not be politically or culturally correct today (such as his use of the word “Negro” which was considered a respectful word in the 50s), we have maintained the language of the original book and do so with respect and dignity in mind for people of all colors of skin.
Background: Manning Johnson (1907-1959) was at one time in his life a member of the USA Communist Party (from 1930-1939) but left it when he realized the truth of how Communism and socialism actually were hurting the black people rather than helping them.
By Manning Johnson
The Red [Communist] propagandists distort the facts concerning racial differences for ulterior motives. All the right is not on the Negro side. Neither is all the wrong. The same holds true with regard to the white man’s side. The repository of good or evil is not to be found in any particular race. Black men are just as good or as bad as white men. Yellow men are just as good or as bad as brown or red. It ill behooves anyone to speak about the other.
White men sold white men as slaves. Black men sold black men as slaves. Black rulers are no more humane than yellow, red, or white rulers. Neither are they less brutal.
The placing of the repository of everything right and just among the darker races is a dastardly Communist trick to use race as a means of grabbing and enslaving the whole of humanity.
Moscow’s Negro tools in the incitement of racial warfare place all the ills of the Negro at the door of the white leaders of America. Capitalism and imperialism are made symbols of oppressive white rule in keeping with instructions from the Kremlin.
To one familiar with Red trickery, it is obvious that placing the blame for all the Negroes’ ills at the door of the white leaders in America is to remove all responsibility from the Negro. This tends to make the Negro: 1. feel sorry for himself, 2. blame others for his failures, 3. ignore the countless opportunities around him. 4. feel jealous of the progress of other racial and national groups, 5. expect the white man to do everything for him, and 6. look for easy and quick solutions as a substitute for the harsh realities of competitive struggle to get ahead.
The result is a persecution complex—a warped belief that the white man’s prejudices, the white man’s system, the white man’s government is responsible for everything. Such a belief is the way the Reds plan it, for the next logical step is hate that can be used by the Reds to accomplish their ends.
In their campaign against the white leaders in America, the Reds are careful to point out that this does not apply to the white leaders of Russia and their counterparts in America. This creates the illusion that the white Communists are different; that they are the friends and champions of the Negroes. This is the same sucker bait the Reds used to win and use millions of white peoples now under the whiplash of Soviet tyranny. They took the Soviet road to freedom only to find it a snare and a delusion.
The fact that the Reds have never contributed anything tangible to the progress of the Negro is overlooked though the Reds have collected millions of dollars as a result of race incitement.
Like the Communist Party, the N.A.A.C.P. has collected millions of dollars through exploitation of race issues. The bigger the race issue, the bigger the appeal and the bigger the contributions. Last year, according to Roy Wilkins, the N.A.A.C.P. had the “greatest financial year in its history.”
Yet one cannot find any report of any of this money being spent for factories and shops to provide jobs, land, and home construction, specialized training for talented youth, hospitals, convalescent homes, classes in sanitation and personal hygiene, care and upkeep of property, combatting crime and juvenile delinquency, centers to aid Negro youth in preparing to meet stiff employment competition in science and industry.
It is then no accident that the N.A.A.C.P. is dubbed “The National Association for the Agitation of Colored People.” The record speaks for itself. Millions for agitation; not one cent for those things that win the respect and acclaim of other races and national groups.
The N.A.A.C.P. set up the situation that erupted into racial violence at Little Rock, Arkansas. Reds all over the world dramatized the racial incidents created in Little Rock as examples of how white Americans resort to extremes of racial violence to deny Negroes an education. Every Communist Party in Asia and Africa, it seems, was alerted to “do a job” on America. At the same time here at home, they were screaming about the damage to our prestige abroad. Any way you look at it, it is a two-way pincer movement against Uncle Sam.
Therefore, we may readily assume that any damage done to our prestige abroad should be at the feet of the N.A.A.C.P. and the Reds who started the trouble. What is significant is that those who spread the lie that violence erupted because Negro children are denied an education have not repudiated it.
Any confusion or misunderstanding created abroad has not been cleared up by the N.A.A.C.P. leadership. At no time have they admitted that no Negro in the United States is denied an education. And, too, they have not admitted that not every Negro wants an education, for reasons better known to himself. That accounts for many Negroes not being able to read or write. Moreover, there are free schools open both day and night for all those who want an education.
There are Negro institutions of higher learning and integrated ones, based upon geographical lines that make available the highest type of training for those Negroes who seek it. There are special scholarships and funds created by white philanthropists that enable Negroes to attend the finest universities and colleges in the country. What is ironic is that most of the Negro leaders responsible for the incitement of racial violence have been the recipients of these scholarships and grants. They possibly would have been cotton pickers or bootblacks were it not for this aid, because only this aid gave them the free time to plot the destruction of America.
One can very well question the sincerity of the Reds and the N.A.A.C.P. when they try to create the impression that America in general and the South in particular is a hell hole of despotism where the Negro is concerned. This is so since the whole issue boils down to taking Negro children out of one school and transferring them to another so that they can be seated with white children on the assumption that only in this way will the Negro child get an education.
What really is being implied is that the 113,000 Negro teachers in Southern schools are inferior, incompetent, and unable to properly teach the children of their own race. Since it is no longer made a question of better schools, better facilities, and equal pay, it is a question of liquidation of the Negro school and the Negro teacher under the guise of integration.
Naturally, white parents are going to resist any attempt to force them to send their children to school on an integrated basis when Negro teachers are considered unfit by members of their own race.
Maybe this is the reason why hundreds of Negro teachers were fired in the border and Southern states where there was token integration.1
It is also implied that a Negro child is handicapped in his studies unless he is sitting beside a white child. What could be more nonsensical or ridiculous? It is a sad commentary on the ability of the Negro child to say that he cannot properly study or that he will develop harmful complexes if he does not sit beside a white child. By what quirk of reasoning does one conclude that sitting beside a white child will help a Negro child make the grade? Experience shows that a student’s success is determined by how much attention, time, and effort he is willing to put into his studies.
In New York, for example, many Negro junior high and high school graduates are outrageously poor in spelling, writing, reading, and mathematics. Yet, they attended integrated schools.
Even the report of the Public Education Association in 1955 admitted that Southern Negro children moving to New York City are on a level two grades higher than those in New York City schools.
What is also important to remember is that the late Dr. George W. Carver, the outstanding Negro scientist, was born of slave parentage. He did not learn to read and write until he was twenty. He worked his way through school to become one of the world’s greatest scientists. He didn’t have the opportunities of young Negroes today. Every difficulty was a challenge, so he had no time to develop complexes.
The main danger and handicap to the Negro is not the Southern school but the persecution and hate complex the N.A.A.C.P. and the Reds are trying to create.
- In the Daily Worker, official Communist daily, Oct. 15, 1956, p. 3, quotes the N. Y. Times as stating: “That 500 Negro teachers lost their jobs in Southern and the border States due to integration.” The Pittsburgh Courier, the largest black newspaper in America at the time, April 19, 1958, carried the headline “Integration Leaves 300 Okla. Teachers Jobless.”