William Alphaeus Hunton

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William Alphaeus Hunton

Dr. W. Alphaeus Hunton was a leading US intellectual and activist of the post-WWII period.


Hunton was born in Atlanta in 1903. His family migrated to Brooklyn in the wake of the Atlanta race riot of 1906. He graduated from Howard University in 1924, earned a master's degree in Victorian literature from Harvard in 1925, and studied for a doctorate at New York University from 1934-1938. Hunton's political voice began to emerge during his years at New York University. Attracted to Marxism-Leninism, he was involved in union organizing, joined the Communist Party USA, and served on the executive board of the National Negro Congress in 1936.[1]

Anti-colonial activism

Alphaeus Hunton, Jr. was the executive director of the Council on African Affairs, Inc. and editor of the CAA's publication, New Africa, from 1943 through the organization's dissolution in 1955. In this capacity, Hunton did more than perhaps any other individual to "articulate an anticolonial critique of post-war liberalism and racial capitalism and to advance a vision of Pan-African black identity that stressed the inextricable linkage between African Americans, Africans, and colonized peoples around the world".

In 1943 Alphaeus Hunton joined the CAA as its educational director. In short order he transformed the CAA from an educational outreach group with limited reach into a political action organization with widespread influence. Lobbying through the federal government, the United Nations, and the burgeoning black press, Hunton spearheaded CAA campaigns on behalf of striking Nigerian trade unionists, famine relief in West and South Africa, and the African National Congress which had initiated its nearly century-long struggle against apartheid in South Africa.

A combination of government repression and financial difficulties doomed the CAA, and with it, Hunton's influence as an activist and intellectual. The CAA was prosecuted under the McCarran Internal Security Act of 1950, and in 1951 Hunton was imprisoned for six months for contempt of court. The CAA formally disbanded in 1955. Hunton published Decision in Africa: Sources of the Current Conflict in 1957 but was unable to find work commensurate with his education and experience. In 1960 he moved to Guinea and shortly thereafter joined W.E.B. DuBois in Ghana. In 1966 he relocated to Zambia where he spent his final years as a correspondent for the ANC publication Mayibuye. [2]

Council on African Affairs officers

The Council on African Affairs, Inc. officers circa 1950;[3]

  • W.A. Hunton - Secretary

Scientific and Cultural Conference for World Peace

Alphaeus Hunton was a sponsor of the Scientific and Cultural Conference for World Peace which ran from March 25 - 27, 1949 in New York City. It was arranged by a Communist Party USA front organization known as the National Council of the Arts, Sciences, and Professions. The conference was a follow-up to a similar gathering, the strongly anti-America, pro-Soviet World Congress of Intellectuals which was held in Poland, August 25 - 28, 1948.[4]

Herbert Aptheker Testimonial Dinner

On April 28, 1966 W. Hunton was a sponsor of the Herbert Aptheker Testimonial Dinner. The dinner was held on the occasion of Herbert Aptheker's 50th birthday, the publication of his 20th book, and the 2nd anniversary of the American Institute for Marxist Studies. It was held in the Sutton Ballroom, The New York Hilton, Avenue of the Americas, 53rd to 54th Street, New York City. Most speakers, organizers and sponsors were known members or supporters of the Communist Party USA.[5]


In the early 1950s, the publication Freedom was published monthly by Freedom Associates, 53 West 125th Street, New York 27, New York. Its editorial board consisted of Paul Robeson, Chairman; Revels Cayton, Shirley Graham, Alphaeus Hunton, Modjeska Simkins, Louis Burnham, and George B. Murphy, Jr. The printer's symbol number 178 which appears on the publication in order to identify the place where it was printed and the local of the printer's union, is also found on virtually every other piece of Communist Party USA propaganda printed in the New York area[6].