Bandy- Red Menace – Part1


Good evening everyone, thanks for coming. Before we get started I want to say a couple of things for students of Dr. Weitz please sign in and also if you are not on our mailing list put an email address sign in and we’ll make sure that we contact you about future programs Our
speaker tonight is Associate Professor in history at Dalton State College He received a PhD
from Florida State University , here at Dalton State he teaches courses on African American History, Civil Rights Movement, New South and History of Georgia Dr. Wythe is the author and coauthor, editor and coeditor of numerous works including A forgotten front Florida during the Civil War era Neither an Accusing nor a Trial Body: The Florida State Legislature’s Attempt to Halt Integration tonight’s program called the Red Menace and McCarthyism in Northwest Georgia delves into an area northwest Georgia history that has either been overlooked or deliberately covered up during the
1930s and 1940s labor movements and labor tensions in Georgia and particularly
Northwest Georgia towards pretension state Federal government the possible threat of
communist subversion was all ways a major concern this fear of the Red Menace
culminated in the 1950s with the accusations rein of terror called McCarthyism In Dalton, Don West a member of the American Communist Party was attacked
for his political views this brought the Cold War to this region of the state. In his talk
tonight Dr. Weitz describes McCarthyism in
Northwest Georgia during the 1940s and 50s and how it related to other
southern states and focus on the role Don West played in the story Now when Brian asked me to deliver a
talk I had a bunch of different topics in mind but then when he said could it
be something related to the area I said okay but does it have to be about civil
war because that’s what first comes to mind when I think about history in this
area and while I’ve done research on civil war before I know that a lot of
people have spoken about the civil war in this part of the state so I wanted to
do something different and I got thinking and in my first semester
teaching here back in 2010 I was teaching albergue in Gilbert County and
intelligent and one day a colleague of mine a former colleague who’s no longer
teaching here Don Davis said can I catch a ride with you and go over to elegant
as it sure can use the company as a long drive as what do you what do you
need to do over Ellijay and it’s typical look at the records in the County
Courthouse but they have to remain they’ve gone west and I just moved here
I had never done this before he knew that a lot of my research has focused on
the car theism and a lot my doctoral dissertation and focused on McCarthyism
in Florida and he said well now that you’re here why don’t you start with me
in a car thieves emit tortoise specifically this part of the state and
I said okay and I probably did nothing on for about 70 years Brian said let’s
do something and why don’t you focus it on this part of the state I’m I’m
starting bills and I said okay connect the dots and I started thinking and I
started looking and here we have what I came up with this part of the state and
something that happened in Dalton in particular in the 1950s but what I
wanted to do was tie in with a lot of the other research that I have done from
passed on what happened McCarthyism in the South in Florida see
what happened in Georgia overall and specifically tied to what happened
dog blast story dog story in general so here we go
the term McCarthyism the turbo car theism has entered the American lexicon
and it’s generally accepted as a term describing the early years and cold war
that saw Wisconsin senator Republican Joseph McCarthy vigorously pursued the
alleged communist threat to American society historian Ella Trevor one of the
leading scholars of McCarthyism argues that the term is merely a generalization
according to shredder most victims of what has come to be called McCarthyism
never had a contact with Joe McCarthy she defines McCarthyism as the most
widespread and longest lasting wave of political repression of American history
in order to eliminate the alleged threat of domestic communism a broad coalition
of politicians bureaucrats and other anti-communist activists how did an
entire generation and their associates destroying lives
careers and all of statistics that offer a left-wing alternative view to
mainstream politics and culture it used all the power of the state to turn
descent into disloyalty and in the process drastically narrow the spectrum
of acceptable political debate as the United States emerged from the second
world war as one of the foremost super powers in the world it plunged into its
next war what it deemed an ideological crusade to contain the spread of
communism around the globe but early 1940s a bigger threat looming on the
horizon closer to home whether real or contrived it terrified Americans and
allowed cold warriors to use the fear of the Red Menace infiltrating American
society to protect their own values and promote their own causes on the national
level the demagogue Joseph McCarthy spearheaded witch hunts that ruined
countless lives he garnered Heymann attention but it was
at the state and local levels where more damage was
especially in the south where the region was undergoing an immense social change
there in car theism and anti-communism to not like its own often surpassing the
terror of the Wisconsin senators rain and usually used as a pretext to halt
integration and other perceived affront to the white southern way of life
Mississippi governor Ross Barnett said I am thoroughly convinced that any meaning
the civil rights movement is a part of the world communist conspiracy to divide
and conquer our country from women in southern states Georgia included used
communism or rather the facade of an anti-communist crusade to attack all who
oppose their way of life in nineteen fifties Georgia that meant the
n-double-a-cp and others have pushed for integration
basic rights civil rights you use labor rights and workers rights by linking or
attempting to length communism to Rights and Freedoms states and local
governments law enforcement agencies as well as newspapers and ordinary citizens
painted activists as unpatriotic and on America in a small corner of Northwest
Georgia this battle is being fought in the mid 1950s and the small city of dull
as cold warriors found an enemy in the emerging labor movement and their fiery
spokesman Don West a longtime labor activist who had joined the Communist
Party in the 1930s but who came under greater scrutiny during the heightened
tensions of the locals and the Red Scare of the 1950’s in the late 1920s the
Communist Party of the United States began a campaign aimed at swelling its
ranks by purging interracial cooperation this was met with fear and very good
attacks especially in the south especially in North Georgia I was which
was within the reach of the CP USA’s weekly newspaper the southern Worker
published just across the state line in Chattanooga Georgia
we’re and fearful of not only the party’s weekly news organ but also the
growing support in industrial cities such as Birmingham Alabama which was
also not far enough away for their Lincoln the high point for communism in
Georgia came through in the early part of 1930s during the Great Depression
before Franklin Roosevelt elected what was able to enact his New Deal policies
by the 1930s Georgia politics was split into factions both centered around the
Democratic Party and it was into this political and social climate that Donna
masses made emerged born in 1906 near allergenic located 35 miles east of
Dalton on the mountains of North Georgia to sharecropping parents he was an
activist from an early age never conforming to society he organized the
protest in high school against the filth the birth of the nation caused him to be
expelled from his high school though he would later graduate he was also
expelled from Lincoln Memorial University in tennis
for leading another protest against the paternalism of the campus although he
eventually returned to graduate from there in 1929 he went on to study at
Vanderbilt University Divinity School and Nashville he was influenced by the
social gospel movement while student he became a socialist he participated in
labor strikes and textile factories and coal mines
he was a poet at heart despite his activism he was a poet at
heart he continued his work as an activist Helena found the Highlander
Folk School in Michael Tennessee in between Nashville and Chattanooga
this would later become one of the most prominent civil rights training schools
during the arts of rights movements he stayed there only a year before moving
back to Georgia where he found in his own southern folk saloon library in
Kennesaw back in Georgia he joined the American Communist Party
became immersed in its causes including defended at America’s the most of his
work lay in the area of labor organization these positions often
brought the wrath of political conservatives in Georgia and stayed on
the radar of Georgia politicians throughout the 1930s and 1940s in the
1940s he moved around the state eventually accepting a teaching position
at ólafur University in Atlanta in 1926 for most of the 1930s and 1940s
Georgia was dominated politically by a wild man from sugar creek governor
Eugene College his anti labor and anti-government stances put in office
with the National Democratic Party led by Roosevelt and the New Deal politics
which Talmadge denounced as communist it also put honest with Don West Communists
and those who supported labor usually found in urban areas such as Atlanta or
rural areas such as Northwest Georgia interestingly according to public
opinion polls taken of the 1930s most Georgians favored Roosevelt’s
do policies and more liberal policies in general but the reality was many of
those that responded to the polls were either african-americans or poor ones
and thus could not vote due to literacy tests and other measures which they were
still in place from reconstruction and the dawn of the Jim Crow era Talmadge’s
disdain for organized labor was so strong that he considered strikes to be
unamerican often calling up the National Guard to help disperse them on one
occasion in 1934 he arrested striking workers and held them without trial in a
detention camp claiming to quote personally have broken the backs of the
unions in Georgia the 1948 presidential election proved to be one of the most
contentious in American history as the Democratic Party split with the
emergence of Strom Thurmond states rights Democratic or the Dixiecrats in
the deep south the election was also right with red baby as the Progressive
Party under the stewardship of former vice president Henry Wallace was often
arm of the Communist Party taking orders from Moscow Georgia was flown to a local
branch of a Progressive Party but it was hindered by a statement from the state’s
small Communist Party which declared that would help the progressives in the
upcoming election the reactions from the ruling elite including the governor was
Swift it made a professor at the University of
Georgia was fired after he was nominated as a state’s progressive party candidate
for governor the reason given was that his political activities made it
impossible for him to carry out his duties as president the campaign waged
against the Progressive Party was nothing to that conducted by the Atlanta
Constitution in hopes of bringing down Don West West was not a new target by
any means but his vocal support for Henry Wallace brought his name back into
the fold Ralph McGill of the Constitution made it
a personal mission to distract West you give a liberal himself was worried that
west of those like him would Sully remain because his own words communists
Oh their loyalty first to Soviet Russia West was in the Guild’s mind an enemy of
the United States and thus the newspaperman enlisted the aid of Georgia
congressman James C Davis to obtain documentation from the house on American
Activities Committee to help prove West’s communist affiliation and
subsequent guilt the findings were enough to expose West
and provide Oglethorpe with Browns to dismiss him from his teaching position
at the school the assult progressive platform was also successful as Wallace
holding minuscule 0.39% in Georgia compared to two point three seven
percent nationally which is not very impressive but comparatively speaking
and much lower than Strom Thurmond’s 20.3% in the state unlike neighboring
Alabama and South Carolina though Harry Truman easily carried Georgia with over
60% of the state’s vote by the 1950s a common form of combating the perceived
communist threat and often the first line of defense was a loyalty oath by
1953 the height of Joseph McCarthy’s power newer than 3/4 of states required
public employees to sign one as a condition of their employment the oaths
could cover all walks of life as in in the animal boxers at decide one before
stepping in the ring but Georgia is home to one of the strictest loyalty oaths in
the nation put in place in 1949 by Eugene Talmadge’s son governor
unintelligent lawyers were required to name any family member who ever belonged
to not just the Communist Party but also any subversive body as the fine
United States Attorney General seemingly following worse and one Georgian went as
far to list his father grandfather and uncle who had served in the Confederate
Army Georgia’s loyalty oath remained in place until 1965 when it was removed by
the United States Supreme Court despite these measures the early 1950s actually
saw Georgia politicians curtailing extremist actions and urge restraint in
dealing with suspected and alleged communists so if not to foster and
create little car thieves as the Atlanta journalist so aptly stated in 1952
ironically the climate shifted around the time when McCarthy’s power was
waning nationally the change was due not to an increased communist threat the
change was due to the fact that it was common knowledge that the Supreme Court
was lightly moving against segregation in the ongoing brown v board of
education case the shift included but was not limited to legislative bills as
forms such as one submitted by marshal Jade mm Junior
which called from me or Georgia hue atom and another introduced by Tituba
County’s sloppy Floyd excellently whose goal was to ban all subversive activity
while creating a screening program for all state employers the bill called for
the governor to appoint a special attorney to investigate subversion which
Floyd believed would finally result in upon the American Communist Party there
was opposition to both proposals within the legislature mostly because the
opposition came from the anti Talmadge faction they claimed they did not want
to see the cockiest which months within Georgia but if you actually read the
minutes from the legislature they just didn’t like Talmadge so that’s kind of
it and there was also a rivalry between the Floyd and double-a themselves so
they fought one another over and so that’s really where most of the dissent
came from ultimately how much supported Floyd the bill was met with some
opposition from citizens throughout the state pilatus were announcement coming
from the in church women of Atlanta who alive
themselves with the Atlanta Journal and other papers but they didn’t call for
strapping the bill they called for amending the bill their fear was that
this would turn into a witch hunt and that it wouldn’t be used to hunt
communist which is what mostly happens they feared that it would be used as a
political weapon not to actually group out communism ultimately the bill passed
town excitement to law created the Georgia Commission on education in early
1954 the group’s executive director and Atlanta attorney dirt woodpile called
for privatization of the state schools which in itself makes some sense now
he sought to keep schools segregated by any means possible he prophesized
communists and their dues are on the March and the menacing Reds will do
anything in their power to destroy laws concerning separate schools to the races
the mere thought of integration terrified Georgia’s political leaders
the subsequent election of ardent anti-communist and segregationist Marvin
Griffin governor’s office affirm this agency’s
quest to maintain segregation of the schools in 1957 Griffin would tasked
legislators with broadened the powers of the Education Commission he wanted the
agency to be able to employ investigators hold hearings subpoena
witnesses they ended up utilizing any and all propaganda issued by the
Commission including the infamous communism in the n-double-a-cp pamphlet
issued by the Commission in 1958 as an attempt to smear ban double AC P it
reiterated testimony by Newton and double ACP Authority dr. JD Matthews who
had testified in front of committees in Florida Mississippi Alabama Louisiana and other erroneous reports that were
being distributed to law offices businesses churches after the
publication of this report the state’s attorney general published his home
published his own report called the ugly truth about the n-double-a-cp it was a
scathing attack about the n-double a-c-p the state’s attorney general attorney
general cook said the n-double-a-cp was the most
unamerican orbit in the United States and in swore that
as long as he kept office the underlay CP would be a bribe legal target of his the American Communist Party did have
ties to the African American community the American Communist Party lawyers had
defended the Scottsboro Boys in Alabama in the 1930s they had organized
sharecroppers and tenant farmer unions during the Great Depression they had
helped lead other strikes and protests against unequal employment opportunities
fearing negative response from white society in many cases the n-double-a-cp
and african-americans in general tried to distance themselves from the
Communists despite the fact that they were often one of if not the only white
groups supporting them at any given time the n-double-a-cp you realize the
problem the problem posed by communist support and they have mended their
platform to further distance themselves distance there were
from Economist’s at the forty-first convention of the n-double a-c-p
held in 1949 the organization who resolved to form an investigative
committee to look into possible infiltration of the group by the
communists the Board of Directors was further charged with taking necessary
act to eradicate such infiltration and necessary suspend and reorganize who
lift the Charter and expel any Union which comes under communists or other
political control and domination this and other efforts by the n-double-a-cp
and African Americans did nothing to convince the majority of the white South
of their loyalty and the feeble link between the entire african-american
community and communism

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