Research Catalog

Angelo Herndon papers,

Title
Angelo Herndon papers, 1932-1940.
Author
Herndon, Angelo, 1913-1997.

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StatusVol/DateFormatAccessCall NumberItem Location
Box 1Mixed materialUse in library Sc MG 124 Box 1Schomburg Center - Manuscripts & Archives
Box 2Mixed materialUse in library Sc MG 124 Box 2Schomburg Center - Manuscripts & Archives

Details

Additional Authors
Description
0.8 linear ft.
Subjects
Source (note)
  • Angelo Herndon
Biography (note)
  • Communist Party organizer in Georgia and renowned African-American political prisoner in the 1930s. Angelo Herndon, who helped organized a protest march of Black and white unemployed workers in Atlanta in 1932, was found guilty of "inciting to insurrection" in a Fulton County court, under an 1861 slave stature, and condemned to 18 to 20 years on a Georgia chain gang. A petition drive for his release organized by the International Labor Defense collected two million signatures. Freed on bail in December 1934, he toured the United States, speaking to thousands of supporters. The Georgia Supreme Court upheld the lower court's decision, but the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in his favor in April 1937. Earlier that year, his autobiography "Let Me Live" was published by Random House. Herndon continued with his literary and political activities into the next decade, co-editing with Ralph Ellison the short-lived "Negro Quarterly: a Review of Negro Life and Culture," but retired to private life before the onset of the Cold War. He died in 1997.
Call Number
Sc MG 124
Author
Herndon, Angelo, 1913-1997.
Title
Angelo Herndon papers, 1932-1940.
Summary
The Angelo Herndon papers comprise two series, Correspondence and Writings, in addition to legal and financial documents related to his defense. The collection complements the Angelo Herndon case files in the records of the International Labor Defense available on microfilm.
The Correspondence series, 1932-1937, includes Herndon's letters from prison to ILD Secretary William Patterson and Acting Secretary Anna Damon, letters from supporters in the United States and abroad, and correspondence with his publisher. Also included are letters from Herndon's lawyers Benjamin Davis and John Greer, and letters of support from the several Angelo Herndon ILD branches, Free Herndon committees, the national Herndon Petition Committee, and a Defend Angelo Herndon children's club in Dallas, Texas. There are also three April 1933 letters to Herndon from death row inmate John Downer, found guilty of "attacking a white woman," and an appeal for clemency to Georgia governor Eugene Talmadge, in Herndon's handwriting, from another death row inmate Willie White. Herndon's own letters in these files are those of a defiant and alert young man who continued to organize both in jail and out on bail.
The Writings series comprises the edited typescript of Herndon's autobiography and some of the original documents used as appendices; several speeches given at mass rallies across the country; Herndon's account of an interview with Communist Party leader Tom Mooney at the San Quentin jail in California; a review of James Ford's The Negro and the Democratic Front, and articles on Black history and culture and in defense of the Soviet Union. Herndon, whose brother Milton died fighting with the International Brigades during the Spanish civil war, also wrote in support of Loyalist Spain and against German fascism. The collection includes a correspondence and research file on sharecropping and lynching, material from the Youth Branch of the National Negro Congress (1936), miscellaneous correspondence and documents pertaining to Eugene Braxton, Herndon's alias, and Pathway Press memorabilia (founded with Richard B. Moore).
Biography
Communist Party organizer in Georgia and renowned African-American political prisoner in the 1930s. Angelo Herndon, who helped organized a protest march of Black and white unemployed workers in Atlanta in 1932, was found guilty of "inciting to insurrection" in a Fulton County court, under an 1861 slave stature, and condemned to 18 to 20 years on a Georgia chain gang. A petition drive for his release organized by the International Labor Defense collected two million signatures. Freed on bail in December 1934, he toured the United States, speaking to thousands of supporters. The Georgia Supreme Court upheld the lower court's decision, but the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in his favor in April 1937. Earlier that year, his autobiography "Let Me Live" was published by Random House. Herndon continued with his literary and political activities into the next decade, co-editing with Ralph Ellison the short-lived "Negro Quarterly: a Review of Negro Life and Culture," but retired to private life before the onset of the Cold War. He died in 1997.
Added Author
Damon, Anna.
Talmadge, Eugene, 1884-1946.
Davis, Benjamin J. (Benjamin Jefferson), 1903-1964.
International Labor Defense.
Research Call Number
Sc MG 124
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