[sixties-l] Re: Military Service and Herbert Aptheker

From: William Mandel (wmmmandel@earthlink.net)
Date: Fri Jun 30 2000 - 19:43:31 CUT

  • Next message: radman: "[sixties-l] Fwd: How do we win?"

       I have been quite surprised by the absence, on any list I
    subscribe to, of reference to the amazing 25 pages given in the
    current issue of The Journal of American History, Vol. 87 No. 1,
    to an old soldier, Communist Party member for half a century, and
    eminent Black history scholar, Herbert Aptheker, white and
    Jewish. He entered the army in World War II as a buck private and
    left it as a major, not a desk title, but in the field artillery.
       Most of the space on him is an interview of him by the
    distinguished African-American professor, Robin D. G. Kelley.
    Some passages are of major significance:
       "Aptheker: OCS was in Fort Still, Oklahoma, and of course the
    whole society was Jim Crow, but NOT the officers' candidate
    schools. They were integrated. Any of the southern kids who
    didn't like it were told to get out, and some did. We slept five
    in a tent, black and white together. Quite remarkable."
       "I put in for service with black troops. I was assigned to
    black troops in Louisiana, the 350th Artillery. They educated
    me....Sergeant Stewart, my communications officer, and I laid out
    the line of march for the army ground force test, a
    twenty-five-mile march, eight hours, full pack with rifle. We
    marched as a unit through Pollock, Louisiana, which had a sign
    'Nigger, stay out.' No black person in the town, day or night. We
    marched right through that town, 110 armed men, and one white
    maniac [himself] in charge. We started screaming: 'John Brown's
    body lies a-moldering in the grave. But his soul goes marching
        "I was known as a Communist; I wrote for New Masses while I
    was in the service. Shortly before leaving for overseas, at Fort
    Bragg, two things happened. One was we got notice that no Nazi or
    Fascist could go oversease. A Communist could, if he wanted to. I
    knew that one kid in our outfit was a Communist, so I told him,
    you can stay home if you want to. He got very made at me, and he
    did go over with us."
        On another matter of very major historical importance: "It
    [Dr. Du Bois' centenary, 1968] was a big affair in Carnegie Hall
    at which Martin Luther King made his remarkable speech hailing Du
    Bois as the prophet that he was. King did not move away from the
    fact that Du Bois was a Communist: he said, Pablo Neruda's a
    Communist, Sean O'Casey's a Communist. Du Bois is a Communist.
    King all but joined the party himself. He didn't, but he was very
    close. In that speech, he announced his commitment to the
    Washington antipoverty movement. Shortly thereafter he was
                                    William Mandel

    To be removed from list, e-mail "Opt Out."
    You may find of interest website www.BillMandel.net

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Fri Jun 30 2000 - 21:14:50 CUT