This is a part of our Alumni Series of articles written by past participants of the WallBuilders/Mercury One Leadership Training Program (now called “AJE Summer Institute”). Click here to learn more about this program.
By Noah DeGarmo – Class of 2019
Manning Johnson, a black man born in 1908, joined the Communist Party USA in 1930, where he served as a national organizer for the Trade Unity League.[i] From 1931 to 1932, he served as the District Agitation Propaganda Director for Buffalo, NY, and was district organizer for Buffalo from 1932 to 1934. In 1935, Johnson ran as the Communist Party’s Candidate for New York’s 22nd Congressional District for the U.S. House of Representatives. From 1936 to 1939, he served on the Party’s National Committee, National Trade Union Commission, and Negro Commission. Despite his notable status, Johnson left the Communist Party in 1939.[ii]
Johnson explained that some of the biggest factors to his departure included his original religiosity, the Party’s promotion of “Soviet Negro Republic” in the “Black Belt” of the United States, the insincerity of the Party in saving the Scottsboro Boys, and finally, the Hitler-Stalin Pact of 1939.[iii] Additionally, Johnson saw that the Communists were using black Americans as pawns in their hope that a “bloody racial conflict would split America.”[iv]
After leaving the Party, Johnson became a government informant and witness, testifying in 18-20 cases by his own estimation.[v] In 1958, he published Color, Communism, and Common Sense detailing the Communist Party’s tactics for infiltrating the African-American community and inciting racial division in the United States, paving the way for a Communist takeover in America. Shortly after publishing the book, Johnson died in an automobile accident on June 26, 1959.[vi] The information he provides in this book is eerily similar to and has much to say about the state of America in 2020.
Johnson shares that the goal of Communist agents in the early 20th century was to cripple the black community in America and incite racial division. This division would consequently weaken the nation as a whole and provide the opportunity for Communists to gain power.
He writes that white Communists infiltrated black communities by presenting themselves as allies of the black cause. They preached that black Americans were oppressed and offered liberation as a guise for their Communist agenda:
White leftists descended on Negro communities like locusts, posing as “friends” come to help “liberate” their black brothers. Along with these white communist missionaries came the Negro political Uncle Toms to allay the Negro’s distrust and fears of these strangers. Everything was interracial, an inter-racialism artificially created, cleverly devised as a camouflage of the red plot to use the Negro.[vii]
Despite how they portrayed themselves, the Communists never did anything to advance the well-being of the black population. However, they gained power and money by parroting and hiding behind the cause of civil rights. The Communists placed all the responsibility for the condition of the African-American community on the white man. Johnson noted that this victimhood mindset strips black individuals of agency, discouraging initiative and responsibility.
The placing of the repository of everything, right and just, among the darker races is a dastardly Communist trick to use race as a means of grabbing and enslaving the whole of humanity.
Moscow’s Negro tools in the incitement of racial warfare place all the ills of the Negro at the door of the white leaders of America. Capitalism and imperialism are made symbols of oppressive white rule in keeping with instructions from the Kremlin.
To one familiar with red trickery, it is obvious that placing the blame for all the Negroes’ ills at the door of the white leaders in America is to remove all responsibility from the Negro. This tends to make the Negro:
- feel sorry for himself;
- blame others for his failures;
- ignore the countless opportunities around him;
- jealous of the progress of other racial and national groups;
- expect the white man to do everything for him;
- look for easy and quick solutions as a substitute for the harsh realities of competitive struggle to get ahead.
The result is a persecution complex — a warped belief that the white man’s prejudices, the white man’s system, the white man’s government is responsible for everything. Such a belief is the way the reds plan it, for the next logical step is hate that can be used by the reds to accomplish their ends.[viii]
Despite all the promises, plans, and “solutions,” Johnson understood that the Communists were only fanning the flames of racial tension in order to raise money which they poured into promoting more tension instead of using it to benefit black communities:
The fact that the reds have never contributed anything tangible to the progress of the Negro is overlooked though the reds have collected millions of dollars as a result of race incitement. Like the Communist Party, the N.A.A.C.P. has collected millions of dollars through exploitation of race issues. The bigger the race issue, the bigger the appeal and the bigger the contributions.[ix]
Yet one cannot find any report of any of this money being spent for factories and shops to provide jobs, land and home construction, specialized training for talented youth, hospitals, convalescent homes, classes in sanitation and personal hygiene, care and upkeep of property, combatting crime and juvenile delinquency, centers to aid Negro youth in preparing to meet stiff employment competition in science and industry.
It is then no accident that the N.A.A.C.P. is dubbed “The National Association for the Agitation of Colored People.” The record speaks for itself. Millions for agitation; not one cent for those things that win the respect and acclaim of other races and national groups.[x]
Johnson’s words from 1958 seemingly prophesy the events of 2020. Modern leftists of both races have artificially enflamed and exploited racial division for profit. Former NFL player Colin Kaepernick gained fame by kneeling during the national anthem in protest of police brutality, and has made millions off of this fame, securing an exclusive advertising deal with Nike and a recently-signed partnership with Disney. Additionally, organizations like Black Lives Matter collect millions in donations while doing nothing to practically advance black communities.
Johnson also writes that politicians would exploit racial division for votes, a practice continued by Democrats today.
Many white Northern politicians objectively aid the rapidly deteriorating racial situation through the exploitation of leftist propaganda to garner Negro votes. They care not a tinker’s dam about the Southern Negro and simply flatter the Northern Negro whom they consider a gullible fool. Getting elected and re-elected is their only concern.[xi]
The Democrat Party has maintained power in black communities for decades, while those communities continue to suffer from poor economies and high crime rates. Democrats claim to fight for black people, while doing nothing for their well-being.
Because the Communists were not truly on the side of the black community, they had to squash any voices who called them out on their hypocrisy. Any whites who opposed the communist agenda were accused of white supremacy, while black opponents were labeled Uncle Toms. Johnson, in a long but invaluable section of his book, reveals that this is not a new practice:
At the root of all the present racial trouble is interference in the internal affairs of Southern States by people not at all interested in an amicable settlement of any problems arising between Negro and white Americans.
This interference comes from organizations and individuals in the North seeking to use the Negro. Among them are found Communists, crypto-communists, fuzzy-headed liberals, eggheads, pacifists, idealists, civil disobedience advocates, socialists, do-gooders, conniving politicians, self-seekers, muddle-headed humanitarians, addle-brained intellectuals, crackpots and plain meddlers. Like “missionaries,” they descend on the South ostensibly to change or to benefit the Negro.
In fact and in implication, all of them seek to by-pass the responsible white and Negro leaders in the South to effect a solution. They employ a pattern of setting up provocative situations which inflame and agitate the white populace and then using it as propaganda here and abroad against the South in particular and all of America in general.
White Southerners who oppose these “missionaries” are pounced upon and labeled “race baiters”, “reactionaries”, “Ku Kluxers”, “white supremacists”, “persons outside the law” and so forth. Negro Southerners who oppose these “missionaries” are also attacked and labeled “Uncle Toms”, “traitors of the race”, “handkerchief heads”, “white folks niggers” and so forth.
Obviously such name calling is a deliberate attempt on the part of these “missionaries” to scuttle all the progress made by the Negro since slavery by creating an atmosphere of distrust, fear, and hate. Like a witch stirring her brew the “missionaries” stir up all the sectional and racial bitterness that arose in the wake of the Civil War and Reconstruction. They open old wounds. They thumb the pages of closed chapters. They rake over the dying embers of old grudges, old grievances, old fears and old hates, that time has been gradually consigning to history in the onward sweep of a young, lusty, healthy and growing nation.
Labeling opponents is a specialty of the reds. Smear is a cardinal technique. Any label found in the red stockpile, you may be sure, is carefully made and selected to draw the maximum hate to the person or persons, the group or the organization to which it is attached.
The use of such labels has a tendency to divide America. Nothing, in my opinion, would please the aforementioned weird assortment of “missionaries” more than a divided America unless it is a Soviet America. They are forever predicting it at the same time working tirelessly to bring it about.[xii]
Modern leftists still employ this tactic today. The Republican Party has been smeared as the party of racism, as the media constantly accuses conservatives, particularly President Trump, of white supremacy. Additionally, black conservatives are frequently labeled “coons” and “Uncle Toms.” In fact, conservative author and commentator Larry Elder, recently produced a documentary titled Uncle Tom exploring this exact phenomenon. Black conservatives in the public eye like Elder, Candace Owens, Jesse Lee Peterson, Ben Carson, and even Kanye West are often smeared as Uncle Toms by their leftist opposition.
Johnson goes on to share how the communists would highlight racial division and emphasize incidents of racist violence while downplaying racial progress to cultivate a victimhood mentality among blacks in America.
Moreover, while they talk about “racial strife” in America as providing grist for Moscow’s propaganda mill they are busy creating it. They are careful to hide the fact that they are responsible for the provocations of extremists as was the case in Little Rock.
In all red propaganda, here and abroad, such acts of extremists are made the symbol of the treatment of the Negro in America. It also is the red smear pot in which all opponents of a forthwith solution of the race problem are tossed. The fact is that the majority of white Southerners are opposed to extremists. All-white Southern juries have convicted some of them as troublemakers and white Southern judges have sentenced some of them to long prison terms. This is deliberately ignored or played down by the leftists.[xiii]
These facts, too, are ignored or played down by the leftist “missionaries” and irresponsible crusaders. In political warfare, it seems, a cardinal principle to credit your enemy with only that which will hasten the build-up for his destruction.
The media of public information is far from free of communists and fellow travelers who operate under the guise of liberalism. They are ready at all times to do an effective smear job. Among these red tools may be found editorial writers, columnists, news commentators and analysts, in the press, radio and television. They go overboard in giving top news coverage to racial incidents, fomented by the leftists, and also those incidents that are interpreted so as to show “biased” attitudes of whites against Negroes. This is a propaganda hoax aimed, not at helping the Negro, but at casting America in a bad light in order to destroy its prestige and influence abroad, thereby aiding Soviet Russia in the penetration and conquest of Asia and Africa.
Thus all racial progress based upon understanding, goodwill, friendship and mutual cooperation, built up painfully over the years, is wiped out. White Americans are set against Negro Americans and vice versa. The stage is thus set for the opening of a dark and bloody era in Negro and white relations. Many white Northern politicians objectively aid the rapidly deteriorating racial situation through the exploitation of leftist propaganda to garner Negro votes. They care not a tinker’s dam about the Southern Negro and simply flatter the Northern Negro whom they consider a gullible fool. Getting elected and re-elected is their only concern.[xiv]
Modern leftists likewise seek to define the African-American experience exclusively by horrible, yet rare, incidents of violence against blacks at the hands of whites, specifically white cops. Following the tragic murders of Ahmaud Arbery and George Flloyd, many prominent Democratic politicians and celebrities wasted no time in painting the picture that these murders reflect the treatment of blacks across America.
Additional statements include:
Watching his life be taken in the same manner, echoing nearly the same words as Eric Garner more than five years ago — ‘I can’t breathe’ — is a tragic reminder that this was not an isolated incident, but part of an ingrained systemic cycle that exists in this country.[xv]—Joe Biden
Being black in America should not be a death sentence. For five minutes, we watched a white officer press his knee into a black man’s neck. Five minutes. When you hear someone calling for help, you’re supposed to help. This officer failed in the most basic, human sense.—Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey
This does not necessarily mean that LeBron James is a communist. In fact, Manning Johnson reveals that Communists would manipulate progressives and liberals to spread their propaganda.
Significantly… there is only one highly organized, trained and disciplined force, and that is the Communists. So they are able to use, manipulate and combine this weird assortment of leftist “missionaries” in one way or another to bring about “a social upheaval which will plow up Southern institutions to their roots.”[xvi]
An essential tenet of the Communist strategy was the destruction of black businesses. Black communities could not have strong, independent, economies because that would undermine the communist argument that they were oppressed by the white man. According to Johnson, they schemed to ensure that black people were dependent on white businesses and on the U.S. government. If the black community was thriving, they wouldn’t be susceptible to the communist victimhood propaganda. As discussed earlier, the communists fostered “a persecution complex — a warped belief that the white man’s prejudices, the white man’s system, the white man’s government is responsible for everything.”[xvii] Independent, black-owned businesses were detrimental to this complex. Johnson writes:
The Negro business man has always been a chief target of the reds. They despise him because of his conservatism. They label him “a tool of the white imperialists” and an “enemy of the Negro masses.” Such labels are reserved for those the reds plan to liquidate and since the Negro business man is an inspiration and example to other Negroes to take advantage of the countless opportunities of the free enterprise system, he is therefore an object of derision by Communists. An enthusiastic response of the Negro to the appeal and opportunities for Negro business is a cardinal bulwark against Communism. Consequently, the reds seek to discredit, discourage and liquidate Negro business.
Only during the period of the Popular Front did the reds cease their attack on Negro business in order to link the Negro banker, broker, realtor, business man, merchant, lawyer, physician, preacher, worker and farmer with Bolshevism under the guise of a National Negro Congress.
Basically, the reds’ policy is now, and always has been, anti-Negro business. The fact that Negro business is sustained in the main by Negro patronage, that it exists almost entirely in the Negro community, makes it vulnerable to attack by the reds. They term it a product of “segregation,” “social isolation,” “the ghetto,” etc. And, too, the reds use the example of sharp competition between small and big business to discourage Negro entry into the general arena.[xviii]
While there were many peaceful protests following the murder of George Floyd, there were also violent riots in nearly every major city across America. Businesses were looted and communities were destroyed. The leftist message, parroted by the media, was that only large, insured corporations like Target were subject to looting. This is false. The brunt of the physical and financial destruction caused by these riots was borne by the Communists’ greatest enemy: black-owned small businesses.
Violent, racial conflict was the goal of the Communists — to divide America, weaken it, and make it ripe for Communist takeover.
Black rebellion was what Moscow wanted. Bloody racial conflict would split America. During the confusion, demoralization and panic would set in. Then finally, the reds say: “Workers stop work, many of them seize arms by attacking arsenals. Many had armed themselves before . . . Street fights become frequent. Under the leadership of the Communist Party the workers organize Revolutionary Committees to be in command of the uprising. Armed workers . . . seize the principal government offices, invade the residences of the President and his Cabinet members, arrest them, declare the old regime abolished, establish their own power. . .”[xix]
While it may seem conspiratorial, we should not underestimate the influence of Communists and Marxists in America today. Socialism is now viewed as favorable by millennials and Generation Z,[xx] with popular Democrat politicians like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders openly advocating for it. Marxism has spread through universities and left-wing activism, and one of the founders of Black Lives Matter has openly said, “We are trained Marxists.”
We should acknowledge the information shared by Manning Johnson and recognize that Communism is still a threat to American liberty, and it is a threat that we must take seriously and address accordingly.
Too few Americans in our day have the courage of their convictions. Too few will fly in the face of leftist opposition. Too few will stand up for truth in the face of the ominous and destructive storm of “me-tooism” or the communist ideological regimentation that hangs like a pall over our country. Many take the attitude that it is better to be safe than sorry or conclude, after a little difficulty or several reverses, that “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” The words God, country and posterity have lost much of their substance and are becoming only a shadow in the hearts and minds of many Americans.[xxi]
Johnson’s entire book, which I encourage everyone to read, can be freely viewed at manningjohnson.org.
Disclaimer: The viewpoints expressed by the authors do not necessarily reflect the opinions of WallBuilders.
[i] Hearings Regarding Communist Infiltration of Minority Groups. US GPO. 1949. pp. 497–521.
[ii] Hearings Regarding Communist Infiltration of Minority Groups. US GPO. 1949. pp. 497–521; County Clerk’s Index. 1951. pp. 1180-1363 (all testimony), 1180 (birth), 1183-1184 (CPUSA service), 1294-1295 (witness against Gerhart Eisler), 1295 (18-20 cases); Rader, Melvin (5 July 1954). “The Profession of Perjury”. The New Republic.
[iii] Hearings Regarding Communist Infiltration of Minority Groups. US GPO. 1949. pp. 497–521.
[iv] Manning Johnson, Color, Communism, and Common Sense (Belmont: American Opinion Reprints, 1963), 18.
[v] County Clerk’s Index. 1951. pp. 1180-1363 (all testimony), 1180 (birth), 1183-1184 (CPUSA service), 1294-1295 (witness against Gerhart Eisler), 1295 (18-20 cases).
[vi] National Cemetery Administration. U.S. Veterans’ Gravesites, ca.1775-2006 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2006. Ancestry, Inc.
[vii] Manning Johnson, Color, Communism, and Common Sense (Belmont: American Opinion Reprints, 1963), 22.
[viii] Manning Johnson, Color, Communism, and Common Sense (Belmont: American Opinion Reprints, 1963), 43-44.
[ix] Manning Johnson, Color, Communism, and Common Sense (Belmont: American Opinion Reprints, 1963), 43-44.
[x] Manning Johnson, Color, Communism, and Common Sense (Belmont: American Opinion Reprints, 1963), 44-45.
[xi] Manning Johnson, Color, Communism, and Common Sense (Belmont: American Opinion Reprints, 1963), 54.
[xii] Manning Johnson, Color, Communism, and Common Sense (Belmont: American Opinion Reprints, 1963), 51-52.
[xiii] Manning Johnson, Color, Communism, and Common Sense (Belmont: American Opinion Reprints, 1963), 52-33.
[xiv] Manning Johnson, Color, Communism, and Common Sense (Belmont: American Opinion Reprints, 1963), 53-54.
[xv] Sullivan, Sean. Biden calls for federal civil rights investigation into death of George Floyd, April 27, 2020. https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/biden-calls-for-federal-civil-rights-investigation-into-death-of-george-floyd/ar-BB14G39Q?sf17491758=1.
[xvi] Manning Johnson, Color, Communism, and Common Sense (Belmont: American Opinion Reprints, 1963), 55.
[xvii] Manning Johnson, Color, Communism, and Common Sense (Belmont: American Opinion Reprints, 1963), 43-44.
[xviii] Manning Johnson, Color, Communism, and Common Sense (Belmont: American Opinion Reprints, 1963), 58.
[xix] Manning Johnson, Color, Communism, and Common Sense (Belmont: American Opinion Reprints, 1963), 18.
[xx] “2019 Annual Poll,” 2019. https://www.victimsofcommunism.org/2019-annual-poll
[xxi] Manning Johnson, Color, Communism, and Common Sense (Belmont: American Opinion Reprints, 1963), 56.
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