Sidney Lens

From KeyWiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Template:TOCnestleft Sidney Lens (born on Jan. 28, 1912 in Newark, New Jersey, died, 1986). His real name is Sidney Okun and, while testifying under oath on Feb. 15, 1965 before the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee, said that he could not remember if he had ever changed his name legally. Lens-Okun married Shirley Ruben.[1]


Since 1941, Lens served as director of Local 329 of the United Service Employees Union, AFL-CIO.

Running for Illinois

Lens has run unsuccessfully for the Illinois legislature and for the United States House of Representatives. He has also been a member of the board of directors of the Chicago Council for Foreign Relations.

Support for peace movement

In 1962 Shirley Lens and Sidney Lens served[2]on the Advisory Council of the Hyde Park Community Peace Center, with Timuel Black and Quentin Young.

Senate Internal Security testimony

Lens appeared as a witness before the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee on February 15, 1963.

Lens testified he was part of the visiting group of trade unionists to the Soviet Union (1960) and that. he was director of the United Service Employees of Local 329 in Chicago at the time.

Lens was also actively interested in Cuba. He testified that he had made two trips to that country, that he had conferred with Fidel Castro and "Che Guevara; that he had authorized the use of his name on an advertisement launching the Fair Play for Cuba Committee appearing in the New York Times of April 6, 1960; and that he acted as a' speaker at meetings arranged by the Fair Play for Cuba Committee in Chicago . and in Los Angeles (1960 and 1961).

Testimony before the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee on January 10, 1961, disclosed that the Fair Play for Cuba Committee had, from its inception, been subsidized by the Cuban government.

The Revolutionary Workers League has been cited as subversive by the (U.S.) Attorney General. In testimony before the Subcommittee on February 15, 1963, Sidney Lens invoked the fifth amendment in refusing to answer all questions pertaining to his connections with the Revolutionary Workers League.[3]

National Committee to Abolish the House Un-American Activities Committee

As of May 1964, Sidney Lens, writer, business Manager Local #929 AFL-CIO, Chicago Illinois, was listed as a sponsor of the Communist Party USA front, National Committee to Abolish the House Un-American Activities Committee.

Hyde Park-Kenwood Voices

In January 1969, the Chicago radical newspaper, Hyde Park-Kenwood Voices, listed those who had helped produce its first 16 monthly issues as "writers, researchers, photographers, artists and clerical workers".

The list included Sidney Lens.[4]

GI Civil Liberties Defense Committee

Circa 1969, Sidney Lens, National Mobilization Committee, Chicago , was listed as a sponsor of the Socialist Workers Party led GI Civil Liberties Defense Committee .[5]

Norman Thomas lecture


Sidney Lens gave the Norman Thomas lecture for 1976.

Anti-Vietnam Mobilization Committee Leadership Identifications

Sidney Lens was one of the best organizers and thinkers in the various "Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam mélange. The "Mobes" were controlled by the Communist Party USA (CPUSA) often with help from the Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party (SWP) and its' youth front, the Young Socialist Alliance (YSA), which took control of the Student Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam Student Mobe (SMC), away from the CPUSA in 1968.


In March 1979, the New York radical magazine the Guardian issued an emergency appeal to funds in an effort to save the publication.

Over fifty supporters endorsed the appeal including Sidney Lens[7]

Conference on Socialism and Activism

The Maoist-oriented weekly newspaper, The Guardian of November 27, 1985, on Page 14, featured a half-page announcement about the upcoming Conference on Socialism and Activism to be held on December 6-8, 1985, at Teachers College, Columbia University in New York City. It was "sponsored" by The Guardian, The Nation Institute, The Progressive (magazine), and WBAI-FM (one of the Pacifica stations).

Keynote Speakers were;

Michio Kaku was also listed as being one of five members of the "Steering Committee" in an ad for the conference in the Marxist weekly the "Guardian", Oct. 9, 1985, along with Barbara Koeppel, a film maker; Joe Miller, a longtime supporter of communist fronts and causes; Carolyn Kazdin; and veteran Marxist organizer from Chicago, Sidney Lens. "Join Us At The Conference on Socialism and Activism", New York City, Dec. 6, 7, 8, Teachers College, Columbia University: "Our Movement Is At A Critical Juncture - Where Do We Go From Here?"

Institute for Policy Studies

In 1993 was listed as a among "former Visiting Fellows and Visiting Scholars and current TransNational Institute Fellows" on the Institute for Policy Studies 30th Anniversary brochure.

Fair Play for Cuba Committee

Lens was an original sponsor of the Castro-subsidized Fair Play for Cuba Committee. This led to the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee calling him as a witness.[1]

Communist Affiliations

Lens invoked the protection of the first and fifth amendments to the Constitution when asked whether he had been a member of the Revolutionary Workers League (cited as subversive and Communist) from the mid-1930s until late 1947. He also declined to answer when asked if he had ever been a Trotskyist or a member of any splinter group of Trotskyists. These are instances of Len's evasiveness when confronted regarding his alleged Communist-affiliations.

However Len did admit to having held official positions in the American Forum of Socialist Education. He further admitted to writing a pamphlet for the Mine, Mill and Smelters Union, ten years after that union was expelled from the CIO for being dominated by Communists. He also admitted to signing an appeal to the 86th congress, calling for the United States to abandon unilaterally all nuclear weapons tests, calling for admission of Red China to the UN and calling for all U.S. foreign aid to be channeled through agencies of the United Nations. Lens also admitted that he had petitioned at various times for amnesty for Communist Party leaders who were convicted under the Smith Act; for the convicted Communist spy, Morton Sobell and for Communists Henry Winston and Gil Green.

Len has further been a sponsor of the National Committee to Abolish the House Un-American Activities Committee; a committee with the directive to lead and direct thr Communist Party's Operation Abolition campaign.

In 1965, Len was a prominent supporter of the anti-Vietnam "teach-in" movement, which the Communist propaganda apparatus exploited for purely Communist purposes. In 1966, he was a member of the national council of the Committee for Independent Political Action, and a main speaker at the CIPA's Chicago conference. The CIPA has as its objective the formation of a new political party, and the Chicago conference was attended by radical pacifists, violent racists, representatives of the so-called "new left" and known members of the Communist Party.[1]


  • Left, Right and Center
  • The Counterfeit Revolution
  • A World in Revolution
  • The Crisis of American Labor
  • Working Men
  • Africa - Awakening Giant
  • The Futile Crusade
  • A Country is Born

Lens has also written for such magazines as Commonweal, Harvard Business Review and Liberation Magazine, the masthead of which features a representative list of pacifists, Socialists, "civil rights" agitators, and notorious Communist-fronters, including Dorothy Day, Waldo Frank, Bayard Rustin, Lewis Mumford, Staughton Lynd, Michael Harrington, James Peck and Martin Luther King Jr..[1]



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Biographical Dictionary of the Left, Francis X. Gannon, Vol. 1, pp. 418-419
  2. Center letter to Timuel Black June 8 1962
  3. A REPORT ON THE CHICAGO ORGANIZING CONFERENCE:Committee for Independent Political Action Part 1, Alice Widener
  4. Hyde Park-Kenwood Voices, January 16 1969, page 4
  5. Undated, GI Civil Liberties Defense Committee letterhead circa 1969
  6. "Subversive Involvement in the Origin, Leadership and Activities of the New Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam and Its Predecessor Organizations", Staff Study, House Internal Security Committee, (HISC), April 1970. Mentioned on pages X, 1-3, 5, 7, 10, 11, 14, 22, 24, 27, 35, 37-39, 45, 66 ,67 & 69 including congressional identifications of him as a former leader of the Marxist Revolutionary Workers League (WRL)
  7. Guardian March 2 1979