Benjamin Chavis

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Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr.


Benjamin Chavis is one of the saddest examples of how a clergyman can get mixed up with the Communist Party USA and its fronts, and later end up a Black Muslim, while still remaining a hardcore marxist. He really came to the nation's attention when arrested on arson charges in Charlotte, North Carolina in 197?, becoming part of the Communist-given name, the "Wilmington 10."

Over the years, some of those arrested were released from jail or found not guilty, while others, including Chavis, were convicted on several charges and served jail time. They were eventually released, in part, due to some legal problems with the police and/or prosecution.

In the meantime, the CPUSA managed to get very close to Chavis, who was then a key leader of the far-left Commission for Racial Justice, United Church of Christ, led by Rev. Cobb. Chavis eventually rose to become the leader of the CRJ/UCC(as listed in the "Guardian", June 17, 1987, p. 17.

The CPUSA recruited him into their front, the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression , which came out of the old Angela Davis Defense Organization and the Angela Davis Defense Committee. He remained a Vice-President of the NAARPR for over a decade before moving on to other organizations, including becoming the head of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People NAACP in 199?, and later he left it to become a significant member of Louis Farrakhan's Nation of Islam .

Southern Organizing Committee for Racial and Economic Justice

Heather Gray served on the board of the Southern Organizing Committee for Racial and Economic Justice that Anne Braden co-chaired along with Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth. The organization " was one of the few that provided the opportunity for us to think and act regionally and to make the essential connections of the myriad of issues we faced. From the 1980’s and on the meetings were always filled with a diversity of black, white and eventually Latino activists in the region".

We would sit for hours in New Orleans, Montgomery or Birmingham to strategize on various issues, activities and mistakes we’ve made then and in the past. We would also listen, learn and occasionally join in while the legendary leaders in our midst discussed and analyzed the dynamics of white supremacy, racial politics generally and labor challenges in the South. Anne was never without offering a lengthy epistle about anything until the wee hours of the night along with her ever-present cigarettes! These sessions were often both grueling and enlightening. They were not only a history lesson but also a socialization process into the tactics of southern civil rights activism and Anne understood the importance of this. She wanted to pass this information on to all of us and to keep the momentum going at every conceivable juncture. The meetings were a roll call of southern leaders and activists the likes of Reverend C. T. Vivian, Jack O'Dell, Gwen Patton, Virginia Durr, Reverend Fred Taylor, Reverend James Orange, Connie Tucker, John Zippert, Jackie Ward, Reverend Benjamin Chavis, Charlie Orrock, Ann Romaine, Damu Smith, Jim Dunn, Judy Hand, Scott Douglas, Ron Chisholm, Spiver Gordon, Pat Bryant, Tirso Moreno and countless others.[1]

"Wilmington Ten"

As a consequence of involuntary school desegregation, times were already tense in much of the South in 1968 when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was murdered. In Wilmington, North Carolina, school desegregation involved closing Black schools, firing or transferring Black teachers, and placing Black students in previously all-White schools, which led to fights among students and subsequent arrests. There were also battles between street-patrolling Ku Klux Klan members and Black residents.

Black students boycotted Wilmington’s high schools in January 1971 as a result of mistreatment. That year, the United Church of Christ sent 24-year-old Rev. Benjamin Chavis to Wilmington to mentor the students and assist them in developing nonviolent protests and boycotts.

Soon after Chavis arrived in Wilmington, a local grocery store was firebombed. Gunshots were allegedly fired from the top of a local Black church were Chavis and the students usually met as firemen responded.

The “Wilmington Ten” – including Chavis, eight Black male high school students and one White female anti-poverty worker – were arrested, charged, and convicted of arson and in 1971. They were sentenced to a collective total of 282 years in prison, with each serving nearly a decade in jail. The youngest of group was 18 years old; the White woman, Ann Shepard, was the oldest at 35. [2]

National Anti-Imperialist Conference in Solidarity With African Liberation

Ben Chavis of Commission of Racial Justice, United Church of Christ was named as a sponsor of the Communist Party USA dominated National Anti-Imperialist Conference in Solidarity With African Liberation held at Dunbar Vocational High School, Martin Luther King Drive, Chicago, October 19 to 21 1973.[3]

National Alliance Against Racism and Political Repression

From the CPUSA newspaper the Daily World, May 30, 1974, p. 2, "Chavis to speak in D.C. Saturday".

Washington,, May 29. Benjamin Chavis, treasurer of the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (NAARPR), has been added to the list of notables who will address the opening of the Cabral-Tubman Center for Marxist-Leninist Education here Saturday.

Jarvis Tyner, national chairman of the Young Workers Liberation League, will be the featured speaker. The list also includes:

1979 pic

Ben Chavis 1979

New Afrikan Freedom Fighter Day


On 1982 Chokwe Lumumba, National Committee to Honor New Afrikan Freedom Fighters, headlined a New Afrikan Freedom Fighter Day in Harlem.

Lumumba spoke alongside Imari Obadele, Republic of New Afrika, Ben Chavis, National Black Independent Political Party, Serge Mukendi, Congolese National Liberation Front, Jose Lopez, Movimiento de Liberacion Nacional, Pan Africanist Congress of Azania, Jim Haughton, Fightback, Zala Chandler, Coalition of Concerned Black Women, National Conference of Black Lawyers, First World Poets, Spirit of Life Ensemble, and others...


"The Black Community Must Never Turn Its Back On Its Freedom Fighters"

National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression

The 10th Anniversary Conference in 1983 Chicago, May 13-15 hold at McCormick Inn - Featured speakes included Ben Chavis[4]

Cuban church visit

June 22-28 1984, at the Methodist Church 23rd and K Streets a "Theological Seminar: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Memoriam" was held the Valedo District of Havana, Cuba.

Granma, the Cuban Communist Party newspaper reported that the organizers were the Ecumenical Council of Cuba, the Baptist Worker-Student Coordination of Cuba, and the Caribbean Council of Churches.

The Black Theology Project was listed as a US sponsor, and the Soviet controlled Christian Peace Conference was also represented.

The appearance of US Presidential candidate Jesse Jackson, with Cuban president Fidel Castro, "was the highlight of a King memorial service attended by some 300 representatives of US, Caribbean and Cuban churches.

Jackson was introduced by Benjamin Chavis.

Other attendees included George C.L. Cummings, instructor in Theology of the Chicago Theological Seminary, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, pastor UCC Trinity Church Chicago, Tyrone Fitts, National Council of Churches Racial Justice program, Thelma C. Adair, executive director Church Women United, William Babley, director Racial Union Program Methodist Church, Esmerelda Brown Methodist Church, Calvin Bults Abyssinian Baptist Church, James Cone Union Theological Seminary, Howard Dodson chairman Black Theology Project, Jualynne Dodson dean Union Theological Seminary, Noel Eskind Emory University, Robert Franklin, professor of Ethics University of Chicago, Dwight Hopkins, vice chairman Black Theology Project, president Union Theological Seminary student association, Carolyn Knight, assistant pastor Canaan Baptist Church New York, Mark Ridley-Thomas, executive director Southern Christian Leadership Conference - West, Los Angeles, Gayraud Wilmore, dean Interdenominational Theological Seminary New York.[5]

Endorses Frontline


In 1987 Re. Chavis endorsed the Line of March paper Frontline.

1987 Rainbow conference/Board

At the 1987 National Rainbow convention in Raleigh North Carolina, a new board was elected, which included Rev. Benjamin Chavis.

Jackson supporter

Unity, March 28, 1988

Socialist Scholars Conference 1990

The Socialist Scholars Conference 1990, held September 6-8, at the Hotel Commodore, New York, included panels such as:[6]

Roundtable on Ecology, Economy, Equality; Towards a Black, Red and Green Perspective

Chavez and His Record of Support For, and Participation in Various Marxist/Communist Fronts and Causes

Endorsement of The Guardian Marxist weekly newspaper

In the June 17, 1987 edition of the "Guardian" Marxist weekly, in a section ("Guardian-Activist Tool"),that featured, over time, key supporters of that newspaper, one found the Rev. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr, Executive Director, United Church of Christ, Commission for Racial Justice, (with photograph) providing the following endorsement of that publication:

"I never miss reading the GUARDIAN. I can't afford to. Well written and factually correct information - with a progressive perspective - is hard to find in this reactionary Reagan age. The GUARDIAN helps keep me informed of the impending battles, and equally important, of our many victories."

[Just because someone endorsed a particular newspaper that they saw as "Well written and (with)factually correct information" does not necessarily mean that they agree with its ideological orientation, since many people who opposed the marxism of the Guardian also felt that it was a very good newspaper as a source of information about communism around the world and in the U.S.

However, Chavez's use of three key words/phrases revealed that he was talking about the Guardian as an ideological source of information and inspiration, rather than as just one of many news sources he would read. Those three words were "progressive perspective", "reactionary Reagan age", and "our many victories." They speak for themselves re where Chavis' ideological leanings were tilted.)

CBC/NOI Alliance

At a rare public gathering, September 16, 193, a diverse group of African-American leaders pledged greater unity within their sometimes fractured ranks, including the announcement of a more formalized working relationship between the Congressional Black Caucus and the Nation of Islam.

In a declaration of unity that brought a standing ovation from the crowd that included factions that have been at odds in the past, caucus chairman Kweisi Mfume (D-Md.) said, "No longer will we allow people to divide us."

The agreement between the caucus and the often controversial Nation of Islam means that the two groups will consult on legislative issues and develop common strategies, much like the caucus and the NAACP have done on major issues such as the Lani Guinier nomination and President Clinton's budget package, he said.

The occasion was a caucus-sponsored town hall meeting entitled "Race in America," in which Mfume, Nation of Islam minister Louis Farrakhan, NAACP executive director Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and Jesse Jackson, a former presidential candidate, were brought together to discuss what all agreed was the sorry state of race relations and solutions to the problems facing African Americans.

In the process, some tensions in their ranks surfaced unexpectedly and further underscored what all had agreed was the need for greater unity.

But Mfume, in the spirit of unity, announced at the close of the program that, "We want the word to go forward today to friend and foe alike that the Congressional Black Caucus, after having entered into a sacred covenant with the NAACP to work for real and meaningful change, will enter into that same covenant with the Nation of Islam" and other organizations, such as fraternities, sororities and professional groups...

The announcement of the formal Congressional Black Caucus-Nation of Islam alliance capped the event. The caucus and individual members have had informal relations with the Farrakhan group for years. But the Nation of Islam has not been deeply involved in national legislative issues; thus what positions it would take on various public policy issues is unknown.[7]

Chavis Joins the Nation of Islam

A story in the February 25, 1997 edition of the Washington Times was headlined as "Chavis now member of Nation of Islam: Ex-NAACP leader to follow Farrakhan." It revealed that Chavis had joined the Black Muslim Nation of Islam (NOI), led by Minister Louis Farrakhan, which is based in Chicago.

Key elements of the story of Chavis' career and how he ended up with the NOI, included

  • "was a minister in the United Church of Christ (UCC)
  • "named executive director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), 1992...He was dismissed in August 1994 after a 16-month tenure for committing $330,000, without board approval, to settle sexual harassment claims against him"
  • "Since then, he has been a frequent Farrakhan ally and played a major role in organizing the October 1995 Million Man March on Washington."
  • He holds "a doctorate of divinity studies from Howard University".

As to why he joined the NOI, Chavis was quoted in the article as saying:

"I have spent the last 40 years of my 49 years working in the civil rights movement to build black unity" ("Mr. Chavis told the Wall Street Journal (WSJ)." "So this is a convergence where a Christian minister and a Muslim minister have decided to work together, and I intend to help build a new nation, not a new church and not a new mosque. I still believe in Jesus Christ."

Chavis was quoted as saying "I'm turning to Allah, God bless you," to a crowd of 6,000 who turned out to hear a speech by Farrakhan the previous Sunday, i.e. "Savior's Day", which was "celebrating the founder of the National of Islam.

[KW: Also in the article it was noted that "Mr. Farrakhan visited Col. Gadhafi last year and again last month" referring to Farrakhan's DSavior's Day speech remark that "Yet Farrakhan can accept no aid from nobody who is considered a rogue nation."

The relationship of Chavis to Farrakhan and NOI strongly parallels that of Pres. Obama's 20 year minister Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who was also a close friend of Farrakhan and later left his United Trinity Church in Chicago to reportedly join the NOI as a member or as a close associate, the relationship never being officially stated. Wright was also a radical leftist and a reported marxist (for an unknown period of time), and he participated in both the Black extremist "reparations" movement as well as in Black Marxist organizations such as the Black Radical Congress (BRC)[8].

Wright also had visited Libya in support of Qaddafi in the 1980's, and was reported to actually have been there several times (but detailed documentation is lacking), and also went to Cuba to work with the Communist dictatorships official Education Department at a conference.See the "" special report on "The Black Reparations Movement".

Dream of Equality awardee

Benjamin Chavis is a past recipient of Asian Americans for Equality's annual Dream of Equality award.[9]


  1. In Motion, “The South’s Rebel Without A Pause” Anne Braden’s Tireless Commitment by Heather Gray Atlanta, Georgia
  2. Courier, The ‘Wilmington Ten’ – Will pardons ever come? November 29, 2012
  3. National Anti-Imperialist Conference in Solidarity With African Liberation - Partial list of sponsors
  4. NAARPR newsletter Mar 24 1983 p1
  5. [Information Digest, August 3, 1984, pages 247-248]
  6. Second Annual Socialist Scholars Conference program.
  8. The Black Scholar: The Black Radical Congress: 1998, in "The Black Scholar", Vol. 28, No.3/4, Fall/Winter, 1998, pp. 45-46
  9. [AAFE 2013 Banquet Journal, by Douglas Lim at Mar 26, 2013]