Congress. House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). Subversive Influences in Riots,
Looting, and Burning. Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1967, 1968.
Pt. 1: Subversive Influences in Riots, Looting, and Burning (October 25, 26, 31, November 28, 1967).
SuDoc No.: Y4.Un1/2:R47/pt.1
Date(s) of Hearings: October 25, 26, 31, November 28, 1967
Congress and Session: 90th - 1st
The HUAC hearings start off with the testimony of former light heavyweight boxing champion
Archie Moore (an African-American) who had recently written an article that was published
in the San Diego Union which states in part,
"The devil is at work in America, and it is up to us to drive him out. Snipers and
looters, white or black, deserve no mercy. Those who would profit from their brother's
misfortunes deserve no mercy, and those who would set fellow Americans upon each other deserve
no mercy. I'll fight the man who calls me an Uncle Tom. I have broken bread with heads of
state, chatted with presidents, and traveled all over the world. I was born in a ghetto, but
I refused to stay there. I am a Negro, and proud to be one. I am also an American, and am
proud of that."
The purpose of this lead off witness is unmistakable. The intent was not so much to show
that African-Americans were against riots (for the majority were) but to show that communism
was not going to be able to manipulate African-Americans into rioting based on the inequalities
and racism that existed in the United States.
African-Americans had long been the target of Communist Party members due to the racism
inherent in America. The mayor of Los Angeles, Sam Yorty, had stated in his testimony that
in years past the communist tactic had been relatively unsuccessful but, "because we
are fighting in Vietnam, they are more effective." Elsewhere Mayor Yorty said that,
"The war in Vietnam just happens to be the current issue that the Communists use to
try to cause citizens to confront policemen and to defy them." This logic that it was
the communist influence and not social conditions within the United States ("which have
been in existence for many years") that caused the riots is weaved throughout the HUAC
hearings. Several committee members concluded that since conditions for African-Americans
had been improving in recent years through the civil rights movement that the only logical
conclusion for the participation of African-Americans in the riots was the subversive
influence of communism.
Several committee exhibits are entered into the record during this portion of the hearings.
Committee Exhibit No. 1 is entitled "International Communist Statements on Racial Agitation
and Riots in the United States." Sixteen pages of radio and newspaper statements from
the Soviet Union, Communist China, Cuba and North Vietnam express a sympathy with
African-Americans due to the suffering they endured under an imperialistic country that did
not limit its racism within its own borders but also through excursions in Vietnam and the
Dominican Republic. According to HUAC, one of the goals of these statements was, "to
convince civil rights organizations and activists, and Negroes in general, that Negroes in
this country cannot achieve full equality unless the United States ends the war in Vietnam,
i.e., pulls out of Vietnam and permits the Communists to take over that country."
However, even though it is obvious that some of the Communist claims are exaggerated, there
is a real sense that many African-Americans would be able to pick up on some of the themes,
i.e., the United States government was conducting a imperialistic and undeclared war against
a "colored" nation while continuing to ignore the problems at home that resulted
from the undeclared war against African-Americans.
Committee Exhibit No. 2, entitled "FBI Statements on Communist Racial Agitation,"
largely pulls from testimony of FBI director J. Edgar Hoover given before House Appropriations
Subcommittee hearings. Typical of the statements is this quote,
"Communists thus capitalize on the adverse propaganda effect that reports of
discrimination and oppression in the United States can produce in the eyes of the rest of
the world, particularly among the African and Asian peoples; that is, the idea that this
country is against equal rights for all races."
Committee Exhibit No. 3, "Organizational Background Material" is a series of
reports culled from HUAC files that gives a brief history and composition of the various
communist organizations that are talked about throughout the course of these hearings.
Information included in each of the organizational material is origin, purpose, key leaders,
publications, statements, and activities. Organizations included are the Communist Party of
the United States of America, the W.E.B. DuBois Clubs of America (DCA), Freedomways, the
Progressive Labor Party, the Socialist Workers Party, the Workers World Party, Youth Against
War and Fascism, the Spartacist League, the Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM), the Student
Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the Southern Student Organizing Committee (SSOC),
the Southern Conference Educational Fund, Inc., the Liberator, ACT, the Organization for
Black Power, the Freedom Now Party, the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), and the Nation
of Islam. Many of these organizations primarily consist of African-Americans and are actively
involved in anti-Vietnam protest.