American Negro Labor Congress (ANLC)
AMERICAN NEGRO LABOR CONGRESS (ANLC)
Organized in Chicago in October 1925 by the American Communist Party and its Trade Union Educational League, the American Negro Labor Congress (ANLC) sought "the abolition of all discrimination, persecution, and exploitation of the Negro race and working people generally." In a significant shift from the party's earlier strategy to organize black laborers along separatist black nationalist or "Pan-Africanist" lines in the African Blood Brotherhood (ABB), the ANLC, led by former ABB proponents Lovett Fort-Whiteman, H. V. Phillips, Edward Doty, and Harry Haywood, planned to achieve its goal by bringing black and white workers and farmers together in a nondiscriminatory trade union movement—an interracial proletarian movement. The ANLC hoped to form local councils in all centers of African-American population, especially in the South. The councils in turn would form interracial labor committees to eliminate all practices that divided black and white workers and to support all efforts to unite them.
The few hundred black laborers who attended the ANLC's opening session, however, quickly became disenchanted with the organization when the evening's entertainment turned out to be a Russian ballet and a play by Alexander Pushkin, performed in Russian. Only a handful attended the next day's organizing meeting, and even fewer local councils were formed. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the National Urban League, and the African-American press each castigated the ANLC for being under the thumb of Communists. Lacking popular support, the ANLC's major activity became its opposition to the Socialist and anti-Communist A. Philip Randolph, the head of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters (BSCP). When the BSCP applied for affiliation with the American Federation of Labor in 1926, the ANLC criticized Randolph and the BSCP leaders for selling out: "They have forsaken the militant struggle in the interests of the workers for the policy of class collaboration with the bosses." By then, however, the ANLC, beset by African-American indifference and disunity, as well as white hostility, barely existed. Outside of several tiny units in Chicago, only the ANLC's official paper, the Negro Champion, subsidized by the American Communist Party, struggled on. After several years of stagnation, its objectives never realized, the ANLC ceased existence in 1930, and was succeeded by the National Negro Labor Congress the following year.
Haywood, Harry. Black Bolshevik: Autobiography of an Afro-American Communist. 1978.
Naison, Mark. Communists in Harlem During the Depression. 1983.
Solomon, Mark. The Cry Was Unity: Communists and African-Americans, 1917–1936. 1998.
Spero, Sterling D., and Abram L. Harris. The Black Worker. 1931.