Today marks the 91st anniversary of the birth of the first American Communist Party. The Communist Labor Party was formed on August 31, 1919 by John Reed, Benjamin Gitlow and other expelled members from the Socialist Party of America. The very next day the Communist Party of America was formed by more expelled members from the SPA and the former Socialist Party of Michigan. The Communist International (Comintern) encouraged these two infant parties to merge under a banner of unity. In effect, the Communist Party of America was born in May of 1921.
The Communist Party at this time numbered around 12,000 members. It would rise during the 1930s as a monolithic and militant party. American communists took roles in leading and organizing many groups, such as the American League for Peace and Democracy, the National Negro Congress, the American Writers Union and the American Youth Congress. Communists were also major players in the labor unions and by 1945, American communists led eighteen Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) affiliates that represented 1,370,000 workers; one-fourth of the CIO’s total membership. Despite being only being seventeen years old, the CPA brought as many as 66,000 advanced members of the working class into its ranks.
Today is the day to celebrate the achievements of American communism!