Herbert Aptheker, the son of Jewish immigrants, grew up in Brooklyn, fell in love with and married his older cousin, Fay Aptheker, who - already a Communist Party USA member - introduced Herbert to Party members, many of whom were already familiar with his writings on behalf of Black Liberation and African American equality.
While still in college, Aptheker started teaching night classes at the Party's New York Workers School and writing for various Party related publications, like the Labor Research Association's Labor Notes and Economic Notes. He would eventually join the Party in 1939, become an editor at New Masses, and then later Masses & Mainstream. He worked with the National Negro Congress - which was probably the largest 'Popular Front,' Party-led organization of the time - and after the bombing of Pearl Harbor he enlisted in the U.S. Army, along with an estimated 15,000 other CPUSA members who served during World War II.
After returning home, Aptheker began work on the first volume of his monumental A Documentary History of the Negro People in the United States, which covered the early colonial period through the founding of the NAACP. In the introduction Aptheker wrote, "Here the Negro speaks for himself. These are the words of participants, of eye-witnesses. These are the words of the very great and the very obscure; they are the words of the mass. This is how they felt; this is what they saw; this is what they wanted. And that is history."
W.E.B. DuBois, Aptheker's long-time friend, would hale the publication of A Documentary History as a "...dream come true..." The Black press called it a "prodigious achievement." Unfortunately, however, like his American Negro Slave Revolts, the white mainstream press and academia ignored the book - a recurring theme throughout Aptheker's scholarly career. Later, Aptheker, as DuBois' literary executor, would publish many volumes of DuBois' writings, letters, articles, essays, etc., which was also racked with controversy.
Aptheker was at his best when he focused on history, especially African American history. However, he wasn't an arm chair revolutionary. He actively flung himself into turbulent waters; as a witness in McCarran and Smith Act prosecutions defending CPUSA leaders falsely accused of conspiring to overthrow the U.S. government; as a peace activist who lead a delegation to Vietnam in 1965, as U.S. bombs were falling; as a key advisor to Angela Davis' defense, as she fought trumped-up charges of murder; as an advocate for LGBT rights within and outside of the Communist Party (many Party leaders during this time, unfortunately, held anti-LBGT sentiments); and as the founder and director of the American Institute for Marxist Studies; among many, many other examples.
During the late 1970's and 1980's Aptheker increasingly clashed with Party leaders like Gus Hall and James Jackson. Aptheker would ultimately leave the Communist Party in 1991, along with Angela Davis, Gil Green, Charlene Mitchell, Daniel Rubin and others. Years later, after Gus Hall's death, the Party approached Aptheker about rejoining. Though he declined, he did express interest in working together to build left unity; he also made a modest financial contribution to Political Affairs, the Party's theoretical journal, which he had once edited.
Expel South Africa From the UN
The Campaign for One Million Voices to Expel South Africa From the UN was a Communist Party USA front created in about 1974. The front was launched to speak on South Africa and its membership in the United Nations. They issued an undated brochure entitled "We Who Support Human Rights... DEMAND the expulsion of South Africa from the UN!" The brochure was printed by the CPUSA print shop "Prompt Press", printing bug number 209.
Sponsors included Herbert Aptheker.
In 2018 South Carolina Progressive Network published a booklet, HISTORY DENIED: Recovering South Carolina's Stolen Past by Becci Robbins. Its content is a substantive introduction to the Southern Negro Youth Congress (SNYC) and the vanguard radical labor organizing among interracial youth in the severely segregated South between 1937 and 1949. Specifically, this tells of a landmark Congress convened in Columbia, South Carolina in October of 1946.
This event had in active participation such Freedom Movement notables as local South Carolina youth leaders in addition to Paul Robeson, Herbert Aptheker, Dorothy Burnham and Louis Burnham, Esther Jackson and James Jackson, Louise Patterson, Sallye Davis, Jack O'Dell, South Carolina's Modjeska Simkins and the Congress' Keynote Speaker, Dr. W.E.B. DuBois, who gave a speech, BEHOLD THE LAND, which "has been a must read' for all young activists ever since".
Scientific and Cultural Conference for World Peace
Herbert Aptheker 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.
National Committee to Secure Justice for the Rosenbergs and Morton Sobell
On June 14, 1953, Aptheker was listed as a Sponsor of The National Committee to Secure Justice for the Rosenbergs and Morton Sobell.
Herbert Aptheker Testimonial Dinner
On April 28, 1966 Herbert Aptheker was a speaker at the Herbert Aptheker Testimonial Dinner. The dinner was held on the occasion of his 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.
Socialist Scholars Conference 1966
The Legacy of Negro Slavery The Legacy of Negro Slavery and the Roots of Black Nationalism
- Eugene D. Genovese, Rutgers University
- Herbert Aptheker, American Institute for Marxist Studies
- Frank Kofsky, University of Pittsburgh
- C. Vann Woodward, Yale University
- Nathan Hare, Chairman, Howard University
Science & Society
Science & Society is a quarterly journal of Marxist thought and analysis. Published without interruption since its inception in 1936. With a press run of about 2,500 copies, the journal reaches 565 individual subscribers, of whom 475 are in the United States and 90 reside in other countries. S&S also has 800 library and other institutional subscribers, both in the United States and abroad.
In its early years, Science & Society played a unique role in providing a home for scholarship in the Marxist tradition. It attracted contributors from many countries, and was a major site of interaction among Marxist researchers in capitalist countries and those working in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. The British "social relations of science" movement was well represented, including some of that school's leading figures, such as J. B. S. Haldane, Hyman Levy and J. D. Bernal. Also from Britain, political economists such asMaurice Dobb, and historians such as Eric Hobsbawn and Christopher Hill, contributed regularly; in this way, S&S played a role in the early development of the British Marxist Historians school. In the United States, leading figures in history, literature and the social sciences, such as Joyce Adler, Herbert Aptheker, M. F. Ashley Montagu, W. E. B. DuBois, Abraham Edel, Lewis S. Feuer, Philip S. Foner, Margaret George, Alvin W. Gouldner, Irving Louis Horowitz, Corliss Lamont, Eleanor Burke Leacock, Robert S. Lynd, Robert K. Merton, June Nash, Joan Robinson, and William Appleman Williams, among many others, wrote articles and reviews for the journal.
Science & Society was founded, after a developmental period of several years that involved two main centers: one group in Boston, led by the MIT mathematician Dirk Struik, and another in New York, with significant participation from faculty members at New York University. Founding editor Margaret Schlauch, the distinguished linguist and medievalist, was a member of the English Department at New York University, as was Edwin Berry Burgum, another S&S founding editor. Dr. Annette T. Rubinstein, who was not a founding editor but joined the Editorial Board in the 1960s and was active with the journal until her death in 2007 at age 97, also taught briefly at NYU, where there was a concentration of S&S activism in the first period of the journal's existence.
One particularly influential contribution arose as a result of Paul Sweezy's 1950 essay on Maurice Dobb's Studies in the Development of Capitalism, which developed into a full-fledged controversy involving, in addition to Dobb and Sweezy, Rodney Hilton, H. K. Takahashi, and Christopher Hill, subsequently published in book form as The Transition from Feudalism to Capitalism, under the editorship of Hilton. This "first round" debate in the theory of social transformation set the stage for the later "Brenner Debate" on the transition to capitalism, and has often been revisited in recent years in S&S.
In the early decades, Science & Society had a strong base in the non-academic political left, in a time when "ordinary" working people felt comfortable studying political economy, reading critiques of the leading mainstream intellectual figures of the time, or debating the "situation in the biological sciences" (S&S was an early critic of T. D. Lysenko). There were "friends of Science & Society" clubs in various cities throughout the United States, and the journal also achieved an international reputation. It should be noted that, while S&S was in (what could be called, in that period) the Marxist mainstream, and some of its authors were aligned with or sympathetic to the Communist parties, the journal has always been organizationally independent, never affiliated with or funded by any political party or institution.
"A letter to Congress" on North Korea
In 1974, approximately 50 prominent, mainly Communist Party USA aligned leftists, signed a "Letter to Congress" on the situation regarding North Korea.
- "For a quarter of a century the people of all Korea have needed such a peace agreement. The American People are ready for it. The People of the world deserve it. Peaceful coexistence must replace war and the threat of war. Negotiations must replace confrontation."
- "Therefore, we the undersigned, concerned about the dangerous conditions in Korea earnestly appeal to you, and to all peace-minded Americans to join together in combining our reason and our political influence to secure the peaceful resolution of this problem."
The letter to Congress was in response to a March 25th, 1974 letter from the Supreme Peoples Assembly of the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea to the United States Congress.
Communist front conference
On February 8 and 9, 1975, the Second National Conference in Solidarity with Chile was held at Concordia Teachers College in the Chicago suburb of River Forest. Many nnown Communist Party USA members sponsored the event. Herbert Aptheker, American Institute for Marxist Studies, was also on the list of sponsors..
World Peace Council
- We publish in this booklet a list of members of the World Peace Council elected at the Council's Session in Warsaw in 1977.
U.S. members listed, included; Herbert Aptheker, Writer; Historian; Editor, Jewish Affairs
Palestine Human Rights Campaign
A brochure came out in early 1978 announcing "A National Organizing Conference" sponsored by the Palestine Human Rights Campaign to be held on May 20-21, 1978, at American University, with the theme of "Palestinian Human Rights and Peace".
The list of "Sponsors" was a mix of a several groupings including the Communist Party USA and its sympathizers, the World Peace Council, the Hanoi Lobby, black extremists, mainly marxists, radical Christians, and Arab/Arab-American organizations, plus a few phone-booth sized pro-Palestinian Christian groups.
Communist Party reformer
In 1991, Herbert Aptheker, Northern California was one of several hundred Communist Party USA members to sign the a paper "An initiative to Unite and Renew the Party" - most signatories left the Party after the December 1991 conference to found Committees of Correspondence.
CoC National Conference endorser
In 1992 Herbert Aptheker, historian, San Jose, endorsed the Committees of Correspondence national conference Conference on Perspectives for Democracy and Socialism in the 90s held at Berkeley California July 17-19.
Conference on Perspectives for Democracy and Socialism in the 90s
The Conference on Perspectives for Democracy and Socialism in the 90s was the Committees of Correspondence's first national conference held in Berkeley, California July 17-19, 1992.
Plenary speakers were ;
- Charlene Mitchell, national coordinator, CoC
- Jose LaLuz, trade unionist, chair, Latino Commission, DSA
- Manning Marable, member, CoC
- Elizabeth Martinez
- Mark Solomon, member, CoC
- Carl Bloice, member, CoC
- Leslie Cagan, exec. director, Cuba Information Project
- Ying Lee Kelly, legislative aide to Rep. Ron Dellums
- Herbert Aptheker
Committees of Correspondence
2002 Committees of Correspondence National Convention
At the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism, National Conference and Convention, July 25-28, 2002 San Francisco State University, Herbert Aptheker spoke on Racism: What it Was, What it Is, and How It Can be Overcome ..
- [ http://peoplesworld.org/herbert-aptheker-biography-is-political-narrative-of-remarkable-man/PW Herbert Aptheker by: TONY PECINOVSKY october 8 2015]
- In the brochure they made a reference to the 29th Session of the UN, which, based on its founding in 1945, would make the year 1974.
- CCDS Mobilizer August 2018
- Review of the Scientific and Cultural Conference for World Peace by the Committee on Un-American Activities, U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, D.C., April 19, 1949
- "Trial By Treason: The National Committee to Secure Justice for the Rosenbergs and Morton Sobell", House Document No. 206, August 25, 1956, House Committee on Un-American Activities, Page 54
- Dinner Program for the Herbert Aptheke Dinner, April 28, 1966
- Second Annual Socialist Scholars Conference program.
- Letter to Congress undated 1974 Hugh DeLacy papers Accession Number 3915 Box Number 9 Folder Number 2
- Hearings before the Subcommittee to investigate the administration of the Internal Security Act, U.S. Senate, 94th congress part 2 July, 1975 (page 182)
- WORLD PEACE COUNCIL LIST OF MEMBERS 1977-1980, Information Centre of the World Peace Council Lönnrotinkatu 25 A 5 krs 00180 Helsinki 18 Finland
- Addendum to Initiative document
- CCDS Background
- Conference program
- Proceedings of the Committees of Correspondence Conference: Perspectives for Democracy and Socialism in the '90s booklet, printed by CoC in NY, Sept. 1992 (Price: $4)
- CCDS membership letter Dec 20 2002
- [The Corresponer Vol 10, number 1, June 2002 http://www.cc-ds.org/pub_arch/CorresponderX1-2.pdf]