Work for Peace

I am not sure just when I began to feel an interest in Africa. Some folks seem to assume that just as Irish Americans have asentimental regard for Ireland, and German Americans and Americansof Scandinavian descent look back to their mother countries, eitherthrough their own experience or that of their parents, so in similarways Negro Americans should regard Africa.

This was true in the 17th and early 18th centuries, when thereactually were, in the United States, Negroes who either rememberedAfrica or inherited memories from their fathers or grandfathers. Among Negroes of my generation there was not only little directacquaintance or consciously inherited knowledge of Africa, butmuch distaste and recoil because of what the white world taughtthem about the Dark Continent. There arose resentment that agroup like ours, born and bred in the United States for centuries,should be regarded as Africans at all. They were, as most ofthem began gradually to assert, Americans. My father's fatherwas particularly bitter about this. He would not accept an invitationto a "Negro" picnic. He would not segregate himselfin any way.

Notwithstanding all this, I became interested in Africa by a sortof logical deduction. I was tired of finding in newspapers, textbooksand history, fulsome lauding of white folk, and either no mentionof dark peoples, or mention in disparaging and apologetic phrase. I made up my mind that it must be true that Africa had a historyand destiny, and that one of my jobs was to disinter this unknownpast, and help make certain a splendid future. Along this lineI did, over a stretch of years, a great deal of reading, writing,research, and planning.

When I returned to New York from Atlanta in 1944 to become Directorof Special Research for the NAACP, it was in my mind specificallyfor the purpose of concentrating on study of colonial peoplesand people of Negro descent throughout the world, and to revivethe Pan-African Congresses. From this plan came the Fifth Pan-AfricanCongress in England, 1945; and my book, The World and Africa,in 1947. I should have liked to join the Council on African Affairs,and expected to be invited, but the secretary, Max Yergan, didnot seem to want my cooperation.

Nothing illustrates more clearly the hysteria of our times thanthe career of the Council on African Affairs. It had been thedream of idealists in earlier days that the stain of Americanslavery would eventually be wiped out by the service which Americandescendants of African slaves would render Africa. Most of thoseAmerican Negroes who gained their freedom in the 18th centurylooked forward to a return to Africa as their logical end. Theyoften named their clubs and churches, their chief social institutions,"African." But the Cotton Kingdom and colonial imperialismgradually drove this dream entirely from their minds until theNegroes of the post-Civil War era regarded Africa as renewal ofcolor caste and slavery. They regarded the colonization and "backto Africa" movements of Lincoln and Bishop Turner with lacklustereye; and when in 1918 I tried to found a social and spiritualPan-African movement, my American Negro following was small.

The Council on African Affairs was planned in London in 1939,when Max Yergan, a colored YMCA secretary, returning from longand trying service in South Africa, met Paul Robeson returningfrom a visit to West Africa. They set up an organization in NewYork. In 1943 they were joined by Alphaeus Hunton, son of thegreatest Negro secretary the American YMCA ever had; himself adoctor of philosophy in English, and a professor for 17 yearsat Howard University.

With the cooperation of Frederick V. Field, a fine African libraryand collection of African art, along with offices for the neworganization, were secured. A monthly fact sheet devoted to developmentsin new Africa was issued. Money was raised for starving peoplein South Africa and striking miners in West Africa. African visitorswere welcomed, and lectures delivered.

Then came the witch-hunting scare, and the Council was put onthe Attorney-General's list of "subversive" organizations. Immediately, without consulting his board, Yergan as secretary,issued a newspaper release attacking "Communists." Robeson protested. His position was that the Council was nota Communist organization even if some of the supporters were Communists. It was doing a specific and needed work; that the political orreligious opinions of its members or officials were their ownbusiness, so long as the actions of the organization as such werelegal.

A division immediately arose within the ranks of the Council andmany of the members of the board resigned. At this time, on invitationof Robeson, I was asked to join the Council, which I did. I joinedon account of my faith in his sincerity, and my belief in thenecessary function of the Council on African Affairs. Since Yergannow was at odds with the board, he was dismissed from his office. Legal complications followed, due to Yergan's claims to propertywhich the Council and Mr. Field considered theirs. When settlementwas finally made, the Council resumed work, hampered by its proscriptionby the Attorney-General.

When I was dismissed by the NAACP as Director of Special Researchin 1948, I was offered the honorary position of Vice-Chairmanof the Council on African Affairs without salary but with an officerent-free, and the services of a secretary to be furnished bythe Council. I accepted for two reasons: first, because of mybelief in the work which the Council should do for Africa; andsecondly, because of my belief that no man or organization shouldbe denied the right to a career because of political or religiousbeliefs.

The Council was, however, on shaky foundations so far as fundswere concerned. Membership fell, and money-raising efforts werenot very successful. One promising effort presented itself inMay 1950. We had received from South Africa a moving appeal forassistance from a native musician, Michael Moerane. We turnedto the brilliant, black orchestra leader, Dean Dixon, and askedhim to arrange a concert of symphonic music by Negro composersof all lands, including Moerane. The concert was successful. We gave it at Town Hall. A thousand persons paid to listen. Critics applauded.

But alas for our dream! The concert cost $4,617, and our receiptswere $3,236, leaving a loss of $1,381. This was not bad in itself;but since we had very limited funds and a dwindling income thisresult made any plans for repeating the concert annually, as Dixonso ardently desired, impossible. Yet the Voice of America broadcastnews of this concert as proof of the encouragement of Negro cultureby the United States! It failed to add that this was done byan organization listed by the United States as "subversive."

The ability of the Council to finance even my rent and clericalhelp decreased, and by 1950 it seemed my duty to relieve themof this obligation. However, the officers came to me and askedme earnestly not to do this, and disclosed a plan which they hadconsidered; and that was that I would consent to a celebrationof my 83rd birthday in February 1951, for the declared purposeof raising a publication fund; that this fund would go to maintainingmy office and my connection with the Council on African Affairs,and also for re-publication of some of my works long out of print,and for new publications of certain unprinted manuscripts. Theywere sure that such a proposition would be welcomed by a largenumber of people, and would mean not only forwarding my work,but the renewed activity of the Council on African Affairs, ata time when its services were greatly needed.

It was a particularly difficult situation because the increasedcosts called for a high charge a plate, and other expenses meanta great outlay of money. Yet I did not feel free to refuse. I consented. A committee was organized, and the dinner planned. Publicity sent out by Dr. E. Franklin Frazier of Howard University,past president of the American Sociological Association and chairmanof the sponsoring group, said:

"More than 200 prominent individuals from all sections ofthe United States, among them Dr. Albert Einstein, Mrs. Mary McLeodBethune, Dr. Kirtley F. Mather, Langston Hughes, Lion Feuchtwanger,and Hon. J. Finley Wilson, have joined in sponsoring a testimonialdinner honoring W. E. B. Du Bois on the occasion of his eighty-thirdbirthday this month.

"Honorary chairmen of the sponsoring group for the dinnerinclude Dr. Mordecai W. Johnson, President of Howard University;Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver of Cleveland; Thomas Mann, noted author;Mrs. Mary Church Terrell of Washington; Miss Mary White Ovington,a founder of the NAACP; Dr. Alain Locke; Dr. William H. Jernagin;Carey McWilliams; and Bishop William J. Walls.

"At the peak of his unparalleled experience, learning, andskill, we have the rare opportunity of paying tribute to him ina tangible way by assuring continuing facilities for his research,writings, and publications. His priceless library must be keptintact and preserved. His unique collection of scores of thousandsof letters and manuscripts must be edited and published. Mostimportant of all, his basic works now out of print must be madeavailable through the publishing of The Collected Works of Dr.W. E. B. Du Bois."

Then suddenly came news of my indictment. I was indicted as acriminal by a grand jury in Washington, on February 9, 1951, fornot registering as an agent of a foreign power in the peace movement!

My connection with the peace movement had been long. Even inmy college days I had vowed never to take up arms. I wrote inThe Crisis in 1913 concerning the meeting of the peacesocieties at St. Louis: [16]

"Peace today, if it means anything, means the stopping ofthe slaughter of the weaker by the stronger in the name of Christianityand culture. The modern lust for land and slaves in Africa, Asia,and the South Seas is the greatest and almost the only cause ofwar between the so-called civilized peoples. For such 'colonial'aggression and 'imperial' expansion, England, France, Germany,Russia, and Austria are straining every nerve to arm themselves;against such policies Japan and China are arming desperately.And yet the American peace movement thinks it bad policy to takeup this problem of machine guns, natives, and rubber, and wants'constructive' work in 'arbitration treaties and internationallaw.' For our part we think that a little less dignity and dollarsand a little more humanity would make the peace movement in Americaa great democratic philanthropy instead of an aristocratic refuge."

At the Congress of Versailles in 1919, my contribution was thePan-African Congresses, and appeals to the Mandate Commissionand the International Labor Organization. In 1945, as consultantto the American delegation to the UNO in San Francisco, I triedto stress the colonial question. I wrote May 16, 1945:

"The attempt to write an International Bill of Rights intothe San Francisco Conference without any specific mention of thepeople living in colonies seems to me a most unfortunate procedure. If it were clearly understood that freedom of speech, freedomfrom want and freedom from fear, which the nations are asked toguarantee, would without question be extended to the 750 millionpeople who live in colonial areas, this would be a great and fatefulstep. But the very fact that these people, forming the most depressedpeoples in the world, with 90 per cent illiteracy, extreme povertyand a prey to disease, who hitherto for the most part have beenconsidered as sources of profit and not included in the democraticdevelopment of the world; and whose exploitation for three centurieshas been a prime cause of war, turmoil, and suffering--the omissionof specific reference to these peoples is almost advertisementof their tacit exclusion as not citizens of free states, and thattheir welfare and freedom would be considered only at the willof the countries owning them and not at the demand of enlightenedworld public opinion."

On February 5, 1949, O. John Rogge, formerly U.S. Assistant Attorney-General,wrote me:

"The recent development in American-Soviet relations placesa new emphasis on the need for a meeting such as our Culturaland Scientific Conference for World Peace. Certainly intellectualstoday are faced with no greater challenge than to give the bestof their talent, skills, and special knowledge to the problemof how we achieve a real peace.

"We are most eager to make this Conference a real contributionto the solution of the problems that now block the way to peace. For that reason we are asking you and a small group of key individualsamong our sponsors to meet with us to help in the preparationof the subject matter and program as well as speakers for thisConference. . . ."

The conference took place in March 1949, at the Waldorf-AstoriaHotel, New York, and marked an era in the cultural history ofthe United States. It was sponsored by 550 of the outstandingleaders of American cultural and liberal thought. It succeededin bringing together an extraordinary representation of the leadersof modern culture, and especially cultural leaders of the SovietUnion.

So rabid was its reception by the American press, that a concertedand directed movement against peace and in favor of war againstthe Soviet Union was made clear. Distinguished cultural figureslike Picasso were refused visas to attend. The meeting becamea matter of bitter recrimination; the sessions were picketed,and the distortion of the whole enterprise in the press was unprecedented.

Thus a conference called by persons of the highest standing inscience, literature and art, and conceived with the best motives,became as the New York Times said, one of "the mostcontroversial meetings in recent New York history"; and asignal expression of the witch-hunting and calumny in this nationwhich drove free speech and the right to inquire and reason intoalmost total eclipse.

At the final meeting in Madison Square Garden I said in introducingthe Chairman, Harlow Shapley:

"We know and the saner nations know that we are not traitorsnor conspirators; and far from plotting force and violence itis precisely force and violence that we bitterly oppose. Thisconference was not called to defend communism nor socialism northe American way of life. It was called to promote peace! Itwas called to say and say again that no matter how right or wrongdiffering systems of beliefs in religion, industry, or governmentmay be, war is not the method by which their differences can successfullybe settled for the good of mankind."

The next month I was urged by O. John Rogge, Albert E. Kahn, andothers to attend a world peace meeting in Paris. The Americancommittee offered to pay a part of my expense, and I paid therest. I went to what seems to me to have been the greatest demonstrationfor peace in modern times. For four days witnesses from nearlyevery country in the world set forth the horrors of war and thenecessity of peace if civilization was to survive. On the concludingSunday, 500,000 pilgrims from all parts of France, coming on foot,by automobiles, by train and plane, filed through the vast BuffaloStadium crying, "Peace, no more war!" At this ConferenceI emphasized colonialism and said:

"Let us not be misled. The real cause of the differenceswhich threaten world war is not the spread of socialism or evenof the complete socialism which communism envisages. Socialismis spreading all over the world and even in the United States.. . . Against this spread of socialism, one modern institutionis working desperately and that is colonialism, and colonialismhas been and is and ever will be one of the chief causes of war.. . . Leading this new colonial imperialism comes my own nativeland, built by my father's toil and blood, the United States. The United States is a great nation; rich by grace of God andprosperous by the hard work of its humblest citizens. . . . Drunkwith power we are leading the world to hell in a new colonialismwith the same old human slavery which once ruined us; and to aThird World War which will ruin the world."

On Monday, April 25th, during the last session of the Congress,a Peace Manifesto was adopted. This historic document whose preambledeclared it was drawn up by representatives of the people of 72countries, "men and women of every creed, philosophy, color,and type of civilization," solemnly proclaimed that "thedefense of Peace is henceforth the concern of all peoples." In the name of the 600 million represented, the Congress sentout this message: "We are ready and resolved to win thebattle for Peace, which means to win the battle for Life."

The Congress adjourned and the delegates returned to their 72countries.

In July 1949, I joined with Linus Pauling, John Clark, Uta Hagenand O. John Rogge to call an "American Continental Congressfor World Peace" to be held in Mexico City in September.

Again in August 1949, 25 prominent Americans were asked to attendan all-Soviet peace conference in Moscow. For reasons which arosedirectly from the violent reception given the peace congress inMarch, I was the only one who accepted the invitation. I addressedthe 1,000 persons present:

I represent millions of citizens of the United States who arejust as opposed to war as you are. But it is not easy for Americancitizens either to know the truth about the world or to expressit. This is true despite the intelligence and wealth and energyof the United States. Perhaps I can best perform my duty to mycountry and to the cause of world peace by taking a short timeto explain the historic reasons for the part which the UnitedStates is playing in the world today. I can do this the moreappropriately because I represent that large group of 15 millionAmericans, one tenth of the nation, who in a sense explain America'spressing problems.
The two great advantages of the United States have been vast naturalresources and effective labor force. The first effective laborforce were slaves, at first both white and black; but increasinglyas time went on black Africans brought in by an intense effortmade by the English especially in the 18th century. That succeededin landing 15 million black laborers in all the Americas from1500 to 1800, at a cost of 100 million souls to Africa, disruptingits culture and ruining its economy. This labor gave the worldtobacco, cotton, sugar, and numbers of other crops and openedAmerica to the world. There followed an increasing migrationof millions of workers chiefly from Europe who became energeticlaborers with initiative and skill encouraged by the large andimmediate returns from their efforts. With free land, favorableclimate and freedom of trade, the individual laborer could makea living and often become rich without the necessity of any widesocial control for the common good. Plenty for most workers,without socialism, marked America from 1800 to 1900.
But this was possible not only because of vast resources but alsobecause of the slavery of the blacks. So long as a depressedclass of slaves with no political nor social rights supplied arich mass of basic materials and a whole area of personal servicethe share of white capital and white labor was abnormally large. Even when the expanding mass of white labor tried to build ademocratic form of government, inspired by the thinkers of thelate 18th century, they faced the uncomfortable fact of slaveryin the land of liberty. Some wanted to abolish Negro slaveryforthwith; but slaves represented too much invested property andincome for this to be easy. In 1787, the United States, beginningwork on the drafting of a Constitution, and having previouslydeclared that "All men are created equal" faced theproblem of slavery and the slave trade. The phrase "Allmen are created equal" was not complete hypocrisy. Mostpersons believed that Negro slavery could not continue withouta slave trade so they arranged to suppress this African slavetrade in 20 years and thus gradually they hoped the slave laborwould disappear.
This did not happen, because slave labor in the United Stateseven with a curtailed slave trade began to raise so valuable acotton crop that this crop by use of newly invented machinerybecame one of the most profitable investments of the modern world. The spindles for spinning cotton cloth in Europe increased fromfive million in 1800 to 150 million in 1900 and black labor furnishedthe raw material. This was the Cotton Kingdom and it representedvast capital and the income of millions of people. Slavery thereforein the United States by 1820, had so firm an economic foundationthat emancipation became impossible without cataclysm.
This pressure for social upheaval naturally did not come fromthe organizers of industry, nor from property owners, nor evenat first from white workers, who had been taught that their highwages depended on the slavery of Negroes. The pressure came primarilyfrom the Negroes; first by their sheer physical expansion from750,000 in 1790 to 3 million in 1840, of whom nearly 400,000 hadgained their freedom by purchase, escape, or philanthropy. Theyorganized systematic escapes from the territory where the slavesystem prevailed; they joined with white men in an abolition movement;and their kin in Haiti and other West Indian Islands shook theworld with bloody revolt.
But the struggle of the black slave for freedom did not gain thesympathy of the majority of citizens of the United States. Thiswas because a persistent propaganda campaign had been spread asslave labor began to increase in value, to prove by science andreligion that black men were not real men; that they were a sub-speciesfit only for slavery. Consequently the fight for democracy andespecially the struggle for a broader social control of wealthand of individual effort was hindered and turned aside by widespreadcontempt for the lowest class of labor and the consequent undueemphasis put on unhampered freedom of individual effort, evenat the cost of social loss and degradation. Therefore at thetime when socialism and broad social control for the common goodshould have spread in the United States as it was spreading inEurope, there grew on the contrary exaltation of industrial anarchy,tightening of the slave system and belief in individual or groupsuccess even at the expense of national welfare.
The catastrophe was precipitated as the workers gradually discoveredthat slavery of their black fellows was not to their advantageif slave labor spread to the free soil of the West. The nationwent to Civil War therefore not to abolish slavery, but to limitit to the cotton states. The South was determined to spread slaveryin the North and if not there, into the Caribbean and South America. This would cut Northern capital off from its most valuable market,and the North fought to preserve this market. But the North couldnot win without the cooperation of the slaves themselves, sincethe slaves were raising food for the Southern armies. Graduallyby a general strike the Negroes began to desert to the Northernarmies as laborers, servants, and spies, until at last 200,000of them became armed soldiers while a million more stood readyto fight. Thus American Negroes gained their freedom.
Now came the problem as to what to do with them. They were ignorant,poverty-stricken, sick. The Northerners wanted to let them drift. The freedmen desperately wanted land and education. A plan ofsocialistic control with schools and land distribution was workedout by philanthropists, but industry rejected it as too costlyand as alien to American individualism. Then came a hitch; unlessthe slaves were given the right to vote, their numerical votingstrength would go to their white former masters, who would voteto lower the tariff on which war industry flourished and to scalethe war debt owned by Northern banks. Suddenly industry gavethe black freedmen the vote, expecting them to fail but meantimeto break the power of the planters. The Negroes did not fail;they enfranchised their fellow workers, establishing public schoolsfor all and began a modern socialistic legislation for hospitals,prisons, and land distribution. Immediately the former slaveowners made a deal with Northern industrial leaders for the disfranchisementof the freedmen. The South would support the tariff and the debt. The freedmen lost the right to vote but retained their schools,poorly supported as they were by their own meager wages and Northernphilanthropy.
The history of the United States in the last 75 years has beenone of the great series of events in human history. With marvelloustechnique based on scientific knowledge, with organized expertmanagement, vast natural resources, and world wide commerce, thiscountry has built the greatest industrial machine in history--stillcapable of wide expansion. This organization is socialistic inits planning and coordination and methods but it is not underdemocratic control, nor are its objects those of the welfare state.
Our industry is today controlled, as George Seldes tells us, by1,000 individuals and is conducted primarily for their profitand power. This does not exclude a great deal which is for theprogress of America and the world, but human progress is not itsmain object nor its sole result. The American philosophy broughtover from pioneer days was that individual success was necessarilysocial uplift, and today large numbers of Americans firmly believethat the success of monopolized industry controlled by an oligarchyis the success of this nation. It is not; and the high standardof living in the United States and its productive capacity isnot due to monopoly and private profit, but has come in spiteof this and indicates clearly how much higher standards of livingmight have been reached not only in America but throughout theworld, if the bounty of the United States and its industrial planninghad been administered for the progress of the masses instead ofthe power and luxury of the few.
The power of private corporate wealth in the United States hasthrottled democracy and this was made possible by the color castewhich followed Reconstruction after the Civil War. When the Negrowas disfranchised in the South, the white South was and is ownedincreasingly by the industrial North. Thus, caste which deprivedthe mass of Negroes of political and civil rights and compelledthem to accept the lowest wage, lay underneath the vast industrialprofit of the years 1890 to 1900 when the greatest combinationsof capital took place.
The fight of Negroes for democracy in these years was the mainmovement of the kind in the United States. They began to gainthe sympathy and cooperation of those liberal whites who succeededthe Abolitionists and who now realized that physical emancipationof a working class must be followed by political and economicemancipation or means nothing. For more than half a century thisbattle of a group of black and white Americans for the abolitionof color caste has gone on and made striking progress: The AmericanNegro is beginning to vote, to be admitted to labor unions andto be granted many civil rights. But the mischief and long neglectof democracy has already spread throughout the nation. A largepercentage of eligible voters do not get to the polls. Democracyhas no part in industry, save through the violence or threatenedviolence of the strike. No great American industry admits thatit could or should be controlled by those who do its work. Butunless democratic methods enter industry, democracy fails to functionin other parts of life. Our political life is admittedly underthe control of organized wealth and while the socialized organizationof all our work proceeds, its management remains under oligarchicalcontrol and its objects are what that oligarchy decide. Theymay be beneficial decisions, they may be detrimental, but in nocase are they arrived at by democratic methods.
The claim of the United States that it represents democracy incontrast to fascism or communism is patently false. Fascism isoligarchy in control of a socialized state which is run for thebenefit of the oligarchs and their friends. Communism is a socializedstate conducted by a group of workers for the benefit of the massof the people. There may be little difference in the nature ofthe controls exercised in the United States, Fascist Germany,and the Soviet republics. There is a world of difference in theobjects of that control. In the United States today the objectis to center and increase the power of those who control organizedwealth and they seek to prove to Americans that no other systemis so successful in human progress. But instead of leaving proofof this to the free investigation of science, the reports of afree press, and the discussion of the public platform, today inthe United States, organized wealth owns the press and chief newsgathering organs and is exercising increased control over theschools and making public discussion and even free thinking difficultand often impossible.
The cure for this and the way to change the socially planned UnitedStates into a welfare state is for the American people to takeover the control of the nation in industry as well as government. This is proceeding gradually. Many Americans are not aware ofthis, but it is true: we conduct the post office; we are in theexpress and banking business; we have built the great TennesseeValley river control system; we exercise control in varying degreesover railroads, radio, city planning, air and water traffic; ina thousand other ways, social control for general welfare is growingand must grow in our country. But knowledge of this, of its successand of its prevalence in other lands, does not reach the massof people. They are being carried away by almost hysterical propagandathat the freedoms which they have and such individual initiativeas remains are being threatened and that a third world war isthe only remedy.
Not all America has succumbed to this indefensible belief. TheProgressive Party . . . has challenged this program, the votersin 1948 declared wide agreement but were induced by fear to votefor a man who has not carried out his promises; the Council ofArts, Sciences and Professions assembled a vast protest againstwar last year and the religious sect of Quakers have just issueda fine balanced statement in the same line. There are millionsof other Americans who agree with these leaders of the peace movement.I bring you their greetings.

My trip to the Soviet Union made it impossible for me to get tothe Congress in Mexico City, but I watched with interest otherpeace conferences: in Cuba in August; in Australia in April 1950;the delegations to the Parliaments of the world, projected bythe Defenders of Peace in Paris in February 1950. I joined agroup to welcome persons selected to come here, including theDean of Canterbury, and the great painter, Picasso. They wererefused visas. A Mid-Century Conference for Peace was calledby the Committee for Peaceful Alternatives in May 1950, in whichI was asked to conduct a panel; but a previous engagement keptme away. I was asked to attend the meeting of the Executive Committeeof the Paris Defenders of Peace in Prague in August 1951, andaccepted. This meeting was to call a Second World Congress andmake a new plea for disarmament.

But before this meeting, we had succeeded in forming in the UnitedStates an organization to work for peace. This was the PeaceInformation Center. There were about 60 Americans who attendedthe World Congress of the Defenders of Peace in Paris in April1950. We were all tremendously impressed and discussed many timesthe question as to what we could do when we returned to America. We did nothing for nearly a year, because in the state of hysteriaand war-mongering which we found in the United States, it wasnot at all clear as to what could be done legally.

Finally I received this telegram from O. John Rogge:

"Strongly urge your participation meeting my house 400 East52 Street at 8 o'clock Wednesday evening March 1st. Purpose isto discuss certain vital problems relating to current activitiesfor promotion of world peace."

I went to the meeting and found that the 30 or 40 persons attendinghad already in previous meetings been exploring methods of organizingfor peace in the United States. The first idea seemed to havebeen a federation of the various peace movements in the UnitedStates already in existence. That had fallen through. Then acommittee to welcome the prominent advocates of peace who proposedto visit the United States proved useless when they were refusedvisas. We appointed a committee to explore possibilities.

A number of the participants in this initial meeting went to Europeto attend a meeting of the Bureau of the Defenders of Peace inStockholm, and also to visit Russia under the plan of approachingParliaments in the interests of peace. Our committee adopteda plan which seemed to us all unusually apt and legal, and thatwas, as we decided at a later meeting in a private home, to forma Peace Information Center, the object of which should be simplyto tell the people of the United States what other nations weredoing and thinking about war.

Johannes Steele suggested that we publish what he called a "Peacegram"at intervals, and in that way we could collect information andsend it over the United States. The proposal to organize wasmade by the chairman of the committee, Elizabeth Moos, and weproceeded to locate offices and start organized work. In July,Mrs. Moos, on account of ill health, resigned with regret afterhaving put the organization on its feet.

Abbott Simon, a young veteran interested in work among youth,was her obvious successor and became our executive secretary fromJuly to our dissolution. Kyrle Elkin was a young businessman,educated at Harvard, and engaged in small manufacturing. He hadnever been especially active in social work, but was attractedby our program, and in his quiet way helped us by accepting theduties of treasurer.

We all worked together smoothly and effectively. We issued the"Peacegrams," and then reprinted and circulated the"Stockholm Appeal" to abolish the atom bomb. We distributedthis over the nation, and collected in all 2,500,000 signatures. We printed and distributed other demands and arguments for peace,like the Red Cross Appeal, the statement of the Friends, and manyothers.

The half-billion persons in the world who signed the StockholmAppeal and the billion who would have signed if given the chance,were moved not by the thought of defending the Soviet Union somuch as by the desire to prevent modern culture from relapsinginto primitive barbarism.

The first direct public attack on the Peace Information Centercame in a broadside from the United States Secretary of State,Dean Acheson, released July 12 (New York Times, July 13, 1950):

"I am sure that the American people will not be fooled bythe so-called 'world peace appeal' or 'Stockholm resolution' nowbeing circulated in this country for signatures. It should berecognized for what it is--a propaganda trick in the spurious'peace offensive' of the Soviet Union. . . ."

I replied immediately on July 14, saying in a release to the press:

"The main burden of your opposition to this Appeal and toour efforts lies in the charge that we are part of a 'spuriouspeace offensive' of the Soviet Union. Is it our strategy thatwhen the Soviet Union asks for peace, we insist on war? Mustany proposals for averting atomic catastrophe be sanctified bySoviet opposition? Have we come to the tragic pass where, bydeclaration of our own Secretary of State, there is no possibilityof mediating our differences with the Soviet Union? Does it notoccur to you, Sir, that there are honest Americans who, regardlessof their differences on other questions, hate and fear war andare determined to do something to avert it? . . . .

"We have got to live in the world with Russia and China. If we worked together with the Soviet Union against the menaceof Hitler, can we not work with them again at a time when onlyfaith can save us from utter atomic disaster? Certainly hundredsof millions of colonial peoples in Asia, Africa, Latin Americaand elsewhere, conscious of our support of Chiang Kai-shek, BaoDai and the colonial system, and mindful of the oppressive discriminationagainst the Negro people in the United States, would feel thatour intentions also must be accepted on faith.

"Today in this country it is becoming standard reaction tocall anything 'communist' and therefore subversive and unpatriotic,which anybody for any reason dislikes. We feel strongly thatthis tactic has already gone too far; that it is not sufficienttoday to trace a proposal to a communist source in order to dismissit with contempt.

"We are a group of Americans, who upon reading this PeaceAppeal, regard it as a true, fair statement of what we ourselvesand many countless other Americans believed. Regardless of ourother beliefs and affiliations, we united in this organizationfor the one and only purpose of informing the American peopleon the issues of peace."

The Peace Information Center continued its work. The evidenceof the desire for peace came in from all parts of the United States,and especially from those regions where the newspapers were suppressinginformation. Surprising interest and support came to us especiallyfrom the West and South.

In August, I had a cablegram from Paris inviting me to attendas a guest the meeting of the Bureau of the World Congress ofthe Defenders of Peace in Prague. They were meeting for two mainpurposes: to broaden the Stockholm Appeal by asking for disarmament;and to arrange a Second World Peace Congress. I regarded thisas important and applied for extension of my passport.

It took ten days of deliberation in Washington and two telephonecalls before permission came. Even then it was carefully limitedto 60 days in Czechoslovakia and "necessary lands" enroute, and "was not to be validated for additional countrieswithout the express authorization of the Department of State." I felt like a prisoner on parole.

When asked at Prague to speak, I said:

"For 50 years I have been in touch with social currents inthe United States. Never before has organized reaction wieldedthe power it does today: by ownership of press and radio, bycurtailment of free speech, by imprisonment of liberal thinkersand writers. It has become almost impossible today in my countryeven to hold a public rally for peace. This has been accomplishedby inducing Americans to believe that America is in imminent dangerof aggression from communism, socialism and liberalism, and thatthe peace movement cloaks this threat . . . .

"Manifestly, to meet this hysteria, it is not so much a questionof the concept of war under any circumstances, as the far deeperproblem of getting the truth to the masses of the citizens ofthe United States who still in overwhelming majority hate murder,crippling destruction and insanity, as a means of progress. Bypersonal contact, by honest appeal, by knowing the truth ourselves,we can yet win the peace in America. But it is going to takeguts and the willingness to jeopardize jobs and respectability...."

After this meeting in Prague where the Bureau of the Defendersof Peace finally voted to broaden the "Stockholm Appeal"so as to ask disarmament and condemn aggression and armed intervention,I started home; but on my way I received two messages in Paris,which led to a political campaign and a criminal indictment.


16. The 4th Annual Meeting of the American Peace Congress metin St. Louis in May, 1923; it was a "correct" and respectablesociety and as such drew criticism at the time from Du Bois--seeThe Crisis, May, 1913, Vol. VI, p. 26; republished in hisABC of Color, pp. 59-60. Booker T. Washington addressedthis Peace Congress; his speech may be found in, E. Davidson Washington,ed., Selected Speeches of Booker T. Washington (Garden City, Doubleday, Doran, 1932), pp. 213-217.

From W.E.B. DuBois, The Autobiography of W.E.B. DuBois: A Soliloquy on Viewing My Life from the Last Decade of Its First Century.New York, NY: International Publishers Co. Inc., 1968, pp. 343-360.

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