GIFT OF THE
OF THE UNITED STATES
^■s^. vA/l. -J,
TESTIMONY OF REV. JAMES H. ROBINSON
COMMITTEE ON UN-AMERICAN ACTIVITIES
HOUSE OE REPRESENTATIVES
MAY 5, 1964
Printed for the use of the
Committee on Un-American Activities
HARVARD COLLEGE LtBRARY
DEPOSITED BY THE
INITEO STATES GOVERNMENT
)AN 11 1965
U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFF[CE
38-962 WASHINGTON : 1964
COMMITTEE ON UN-AMERICAN ACTIVITIES
United States House of Representatives
EDWIN B. WILLIS, Louisiana, Chairman
WILLIAM M. TUCK, Virginia AUGUST E. JOHANSEN, Michigan
JOE R. POOL, Texas DONALD C. BRUCE, Indiana
KICHARD H. ICHORD, Missouri HENRY C. SCHADEBERG, Wisconsin
GEORGE F. SENNER, Jr., Arizona JOHN M. ASHBROOK, Oliio
Francis J. McNamara, Director
Frank S. Tavennee, Jr., General Counsel
Alfred M. Nittle, Counsel
William Hitz, Counsel vHA9H4 • V;'ljjr.r» (i>4^
I\Iay 5, 1964: Testimony of —
James H. Robinson 1930
Public Law 601, 79th Congress
The legislation under which the House Committee on Un-American
Activities operates is Public Law 601, 79th Congress  ; 60 Stat.
812, which provides :
Be it enacted dy the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States
of America in Congress assembled, * * *
PART 2— RULES OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
SEC. 121, STANDING COMMITTEES
* 4: * * * • *
17. Committee on Un-American Activities, to consist of nine Members.
POWERS AND DUTIES OF COMMITTEES
(q) (1) Committee on Un-American Activities.
(A) Un-American activities.
(2) The Committee on Un-American Activities, as a wliole or by subcommit-
tee, is authorized to make from time to time investigations of (i) the extent,
character, and objects of un-American propaganda activities in the United States,
(ii) the diffusion within the United States of subversive and un-American propa-
ganda that is instigated from foreign countries or of a domestic origin and attacks
the principle of the form of government as guaranteed by our Constitution, and
(iii) all other questions in relation thereto that would aid Congress in any neces-
sary remedial legislation.
The Committee on Un-American Activities shall report to the House (or to the
Clerk of the House if the House is not in session) the results of any such investi-
gation, together with such recommendations as it deems advisable.
For the purpose of any such investigation, the Committee on Un-American
Activities, or any subcommittee thereof, is authorized to sit and act at such
times and places within the United States, whether or not the House is sitting,
has recessed, or has adjourned, to hold such hearings, to require the attendance
of such witnesses and the production of such books, papers, and documents, and
to take such testimony, as it deems necessary. Subpenas may be issued under
the signature of the cliairman of the committee or any subcommittee, or by any
member designated by any such chairman, and may be served by any person
designated by any such chairman or member.
LEGISLATIVE OVERSIGHT BY STANDING COMMITTEES
Sec 136. To assist the Congress in appraising the administration of the laws
and in developing such amendments or related legislation as it may deem neces-
sary, each standing committee of the Senate and the House of Representatives
shall exercise continuous watchfulness of the execution by the administrative
agencies concerned of any laws, the subject matter of which is within the jurisdic-
tion of such committee ; and. for that pui*pose, shall study all pertinent reports
and data submitted to the Congress by the agencies in the executive branch of
RULES ADOPTED BY THE S8TH CONGRESS
House Resolution 5, January 9, 1963
* * * * * ^
1. There shall be elected by the House, at the commencement of each Congress,
(r) Committee on Un-American Activities, to consist of nine Members.
POWERS AND DUTIES OF COMMITTEES
18. Committee on Un-American Activities.
(a) Un-American activities.
(b) The Committee on Un-American Activities, as a whole or by subcommittee,
is authorized to make from time to time investigations of (1) the extent, char-
acter, and objects of uu-American propaganda activities in the United States,
(2) the diffusion within the United States of subversive and un-American prop-
aganda that is instigated from foreign countries or of a domestic origin and
attacks the principle of the form of government as guaranteed by our Constitu-
tion, and (3) all other questions in relation thereto that would aid Congress
in any necessary remedial legislation.
The Committee on Un-American Activities shall report to the House (or to the
Clerk of the House if the House is not in session) the results of any such investi-
gation, together with such recommendations as it deems advisable.
For the purpose of any such Investigation, the Committee on Un-American
Activities, or any subcommittee thereof, is authorized to sit and act at such times
and places within the United States, whether or not the House is sitting, has
recessed, or has adjourned, to hold such hearings, to require the attendance
of such witnesses and the production of such books, papers, and documents, and
to take such testimony, as it deems necessary. Subpenas may be issued under
the signature of the chairman of the committee or any subcommittee, or by any
member designated by any such chairman, and may be served by any person
designated by any such chairman or member.
27. To assist the House in appraising the administration of the laws and in
developing such amendments or related legislation as it may deem necessary,
each standing committee of the House shall exercise continuous watchfulness
of the execution by the administrative agencies concerned of any laws, the subject
matter of which is within the jurisdiction of such committee ; and, for that
purpose, shall study all pertinent reports and data submitted to the House by
the agencies in the executive branch of the Government.
Rev. James H. Robinson, pastor emeritus of the Presbyterian
Church of the Master, New York City, is director of Operation
Crossroads Africa, Inc., 150 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. This
privately financed organization, which was conceived by Mr. Robin-
son, operates a student exchange program between the United States
and Africa. Its purpose is to build friendship and understanding
between this country and African nations. It does this by enlisting
the service of U.S. college students, of all races and creeds, who spend
their summers in Africa as members of volunteer teams, living among
the people, helping them build schools, teaching, coaching them in
various sports, and working with them on numerous other projects
designed to improve their living conditions.
U.S. college students who volunteer for this project are given orien-
tation training, including instruction on communism and Communist
tactics, prior to thek overseas service.
Mr. Robinson is also a member of the National Advisory Council of
the Peace Corps.
Because he has been associated in the past with organizations cited
as Communist, questions have been raised concerning his Peace Corps
position, and he has also encountered some problems m connection
with his Operation Crossroads Africa program.
In a letter addressed to the former chairman of this committee,
requesting an opportunity to appear before the committee to testify
concerning his past ties with cited Communist and Communist-front
organizations and also his present position on communism, Mr.
Because of continuing difficulties which interfere with the
service I render to this country, I should like the opportunity
of an interview or a hearing in the hopes that the Committee
will help clear up the records. * * *
The committee first contacted Mr. Robinson to arrange his appear-
ance in June 1963. Because of the pressure of other committee busi-
ness and also because of Mr. Robinson's commitments which involved
trips abroad, a mutually convenient date for his appearance could not
be found until almost a year later.
In his appearance before the committee on May 5, 1964, Mr.
Robinson was asked questions concerning all officially cited or Com-
munist-tinged groups with which, according to public accounts, he had
at any time been affiliated. He answered all questions without
resorting to constitutional privilege.
]Mr. Robinson testified that he was not and had never been a mem-
ber of the Communist Party. He also stated that in the past he had
believed in supporting and working with Communists when they were
ostensibly working for things in which he believed — peace, civil
rights, and similar goals. He also testified, however, that his position
1926 TESTIMONY OF REV. JAMES H. ROBESTSON
on this subject had changed during the post-World War II years and
that he no longer held this view.
After explaining how he had become associated with several Com-
munist or Communist-front organizations in the late thirties and early-
forties, Mr. Robinson was asked if his basic position or attitude at that
time was that he would support an activity in which Communists
were involved if he felt it served a cause he was interested in. He
I did in those days. I would not do it now. With age
and experience, you learn a good many other things. But in
those things, when I had just come to the Church of the
Master and was involved in a great many things in the
Harlem community, I did not make the same distinctions
that I would now.
At another point in his testunony, Mr. Robinson was asked whether,
as advertised, he had been a speaker at a Forum for Victory sponsored
by a Communist Party club in New York City in 1943. He said he
did not definitely recall the event, but that he might have addressed
the forum and —
if I spoke, and I may have spoken, it would have been
because I was working strongly then with a great many Jewish
groups against anti-semitism. I would have spoken only for
that reason and under those circumstances.
iTwould say that at that time I believed if I could utilize
the Communist Party for things that I believed in, although
I knew it was a hazardous pm-suit to try to do so, that I
should try to do that.
Mr. Robinson gave several examples of anti-Communist activities
he had undertaken in recent years. In 1941, he had organized the
African Academy of Art and Research in New York City, which was
designed to serve as a hospitality center for African students studying
in the United States. In the post-World War II years, when he
learned that the Council on African Affairs,^ which he described as
"a decided front organization," was attempting to involve African
students in the United States in Communist activities, he utilized the
African Academy of Art and Research to offset the operations of the
Council on African Affairs.
He also referred to the fact that he had written a pamphlet Love oj
This Land at the request of Donald Stone, former Director of the
Mutual Security Agency. This pamphlet, published in 1956, pointed
out the progress that had been made in the United States in the area
of race relations. It was designed to assist U.S. Government personnel
serving overseas, particularly those working in Asia, in replying to
criticisms about racial matters in the United States made by Com-
munists and others.
1 The Council on African Affairs was cited as Communist and subversive by Attorney General Tom
Clark in 1947 and 1948.
TESTIMONY OF REV. JAMES. H. ROBINSON 1927
Describing the training given voluntary vi^orkers in his Operations
Crossroads Africa project, Mr. Robinson testified:
We give great attention to this whole area in Crossroads
when our people meet at Douglas College for Women at Rut-
gers for 7 days for their final preparation. We indicate what
types of groups in the various countries of Africa might be
leftwing or Communist and how they can answer them ef-
fectively and how they are going to avoid being pushed into
We spend the whole day with the kind of problems they
were going to face, what they should be reading, set up some
potential situations that they might face, and help them to
work out some of the answers, because they are going to be
challenged all along the line, and especially by the leftwing
students or the Communists.
This is going to be more of a problem in the years to come,
because the great wave of African students who have gone to
[East] Germany or Moscow or Peking or Poland is just
now this summer beginning to come back in any significant
numbers. In 4 to 5 years that wave will reach its peak.
So we are trying to prepare our young people and our lead-
ers, too, in what they can do to win an audience and get
people to go along with them and see their view rather than
just winning a battle.
Referring to leaders of the civil rights movement in the United
States who believe (as he does) that people can "logically" be civilly
disobedient at times, Mr. Robinson stated:
* * * it is the obligation of the person who takes this stand
to purge out of their ranks the kind of people who do not take
it for the same good reasons of conscience and who try to use
it to another advantage or infiltrate the movement for Com-
This is their responsibility to do this. They cannot hide
under the fact that our cause is so good and our situation is so
desperate that we will accept anybody on a brotherhood front
movement to come in and help us.
That will include Malcolm X, the Communists, and a good
rnany other people with whom I would not agree under these
circumstances. So I think the best thing to do is to prepare
the minds of young people about what communism is and
help them to face it.
When asked to state approximately when it was that his position
on supporting or cooperating with Communists or Communist fronts
had changed, Mr. Robinson replied:
I think my position on these matters began to change in
the middle 1940's toward the end of the war and were solidi-
fied, I would say, by 1949-1950, when I took a whole new
position which I referred to previously. After I took that
38-962 — 64-
1928 TESTmiONY OF REV. JAMES H. ROBINSON
trip abroad for the Presbyterian Church in 1951 and 1952 to
see who was winning the minds of young people and learned
a good many more things outside of this country that I had
not learned while I was in it — although I had learned a good
many things about communism in this country — I think my
change was completed.
At a subsequent point in his testimony, Mr. Ichord asked Mr.
Robinson the following question:
You stated in your testimony that back when you were as-
sociated with Mr. Robeson and Ben Davis and others in
several causes, that at that time you were of the mind that
you would join with a Communist or anyone who was work-
ing for the objectives that you had in mind, and then later
on you changed your mind. I would like for you to elaborate
somewhat upon that.
Mr. Robinson replied:
WeU, I came to the place where you have to recognize,
first of all, that you might do your cause and yourself more
harm, if you joined with people who are better organized
than you are, and better disciplined in a group than you have,
and their great asset is tight discipline.
They know where they are going and what they want to do.
They can play it easy or soft. They can sit in a meeting that
everyone leaves, as long as there is a quorum, and they will
get the votes. I saw this happen many times at first without
knowing what was happening. I learned, but some people
never did learn.
I do not think it would be to my advantage, for example,
in Operation Crossroads Africa to let a Black Muslim come
into Operation Crossroads Africa. I must admit one got in
from the University of California at Berkeley, but we put
him on a plane from Africa, when we found out about it, and
sent him home.
I would say the same thing about Communists. I would
not let Communists in either. Now, would I let them
cooperate with us on anything? No, I would not take that
old position of cooperating any more. I would not get in-
volved with people with ulterior motives who really end up
trying to use you to make capital for their ends.
Additional testimony by Mr. Robinson will be found in part 2 of
the committee's hearings on the Freedom Academy bills.
TESTIMONY OF REV. JAMES H. ROBINSON
TUESDAY, MAY 5, 1964
United States House of Representatives,
Subcommittee of the
Committee on Un-American Activities,
EXECUTIVE session ^
A subcommittee of the Committee on Un-American Activities met,
pursuant to call, at 10:10 a.m., in Room 226, Cannon House Office
Building, Washington, D.C, Hon. William M. Tuck (chairman of the
( Subcommittee members : Representatives William M. Tuck, of Vir-
ginia ; Richard H. Ichord, of Missouri ; and Henry C. Schadeberg, of
Subcommittee members present : Representatives Tuck, Ichord, and
Staff members present: Francis J. McNamara, director, and Donald
T. Appell, chief investigator.
Mr. Tuck. The subcommittee will come to order.
Do I hear a motion that the witness be heard in executive session ?
Mr. Ichord. I move that he be heard in executive session.
Mr. Schadeberg. I second the motion.
Mr. Tuck. Those in favor, "aye." Opposed, "no."
The "ayes" have it.
It has been moved and voted unanimously that the committee will
hear this witness in executive session.
I will now read an order from the chairman of the committee estab-
lishing the subcommittee :
April 30, 1964.
To : Francis J. McNamara,
Director, Committee on JJn-American Activities.
Rev. James H. Robinson having requested the privilege of appearing as a
witness before the Committee, I, pursuant to the policy and Rules of this Commit-
tee, hereby appoint a subcommittee of the Committee on Un-American Activities,
consisting of Hon. William M. Tuck as Chairman, and Hon. Richard
Ichord and Hon. Henry C. Schadeberg as Associate Members, to receive his
testimony in "Washington, D.C, commencing on or about Tuesday, May 5, 1964,
and/or at such other times thereafter and places as said subcommittee shall
Please make this action a matter of Committee record.
If any member indicates his inability to serve, please notify me.
Given under my hand this 30th day of April, 1964.
/s/ Edwin E. Willis.
Edwin E. Willis,
Chairman, Committee on Tin-American Activities.
1 Released by the committee and ordered to be printed.
1930 TESTIMONY OF REV. JAMES H. ROBINSON
Now, I believe we are ready to proceed with the identification of the
witness and counsel.
(At this point the witness and his comisel entered the hearing room.)
Mr. Tuck. Will you stand and raise your right hand ?
Do you solemnly swear that the testimony you are about to give will
be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you
Mr. Robinson. I so swear.
Mr. McNamara. Mr. Chairman, I believe the record should reflect
that Dr. Robinson is appearing before the subcommittee this morning
as a result of an inquiry sent to him approximately a year ago. At that
time, the committee extended to him the opportunity to comment on
certain material contained in the committee's files. This was done
because he had previously been in touch with the committee, requesting
an opportunity to testify on this matter. Dr. Robinson extended his
appreciation to the committee in reply to this letter. Mr. Appell, our
chief investigator, subsequently got in touch with him to discuss this.
It was only because of his own commitments, a busy schedule, as well as
the committee's, that this hearing has not been held earlier. This was
the first date we could find that was convenient to both parties.
Mr. Tuck. All right, proceed.
TESTIMONY OF REV. JAMES H. ROBINSON, ACCOMPANIED BY
COUNSEL, WILFRED MAIS
Mr. McNamara. Dr. Robinson, Would you, for the sake of the rec-
ord, give the committee some information on your background, the date
and place of your birth, education, and your major employments.
Mr. Robinson. I was bom in Knoxville, Tenn., in 1907. The family
moved to Cleveland in 1917. I went to elementary school in Youngs-
town and Cleveland, Ohio, and high school. I went to Lincoln Univer-
sity where I graduated in 1935, then to Union Theological Seminary
where I graduated in 1938. Before I graduated I was ordained by the
Presbytery of Cleveland as a minister and began a church and a com-
munity center in the Harlem community [New York City] the same
At the same time, I did some work for the NAACP developing their
youth program and then stayed at that church as its pastor 231/^ years
until the 15th of October 1962, when I left it because, prior to that time
I had begun — in 1951 and 1952 — an 8-month trip in Asia for the
Presbyterian Church to do several things. One, to see who was having
the biggest influence on the minds of students and, secondly, to lay the
foundation for a program called Spend Y^our Junior Year Abroad
in an Asian or Middle East University.
And during that time I did some voluntary things for our Ambas-
sador in India at that time and the consul general at Hong Kong
and the American occupation people in Germany, since I was on this
trip at the time of the first so-called Neo-German Youth Conference
In 1954, 1 started Operation Crossroads Africa, which I give my full
time to now — the reasons for that I can give later, if the committee
cares to hear that — which began for the purpose of taking students at
TESTIMONY OF REV. JAJVIES. H. ROBINSON 1931
the grassroots level to do work in Africa. That has been going on
and increasing and I give my full time to that now.
Mr. McNamar^v. Have you held, or do you hold, any posts with
the United States Government or a Government agency ?
Mr. KoBiNSON. I serve on the Advisory Committee of the State
Department for Africa and am Vice Chairman — I am not quite sure
what I am now — to the Advisory Council to the Peace Corps. But
now that President Johnson is no longer the Chairman of the Coun-
cil, I suppose, except in fact of name I am no longer Vice Chair-
man, we have not had any meetings, but I still serve on that com-
Mr. McNamara. Doctor, I neglected to have you identify your
counsel before. Would you do that please.
Mr. Robinson. Yes. I have asked a friend. Attorney Wilfred Mais,
who has been in many similar local hearings as a result of this record,
with me, through the years, to come along with me. He is an attorney
in New York and was chairman of the board of directors of the Mom-
ingside Community Center, which I neglected to say, I also founded.
It works with about 4,000 underprivileged children simultaneously
with tlie church but who were not church members. We ran a camp
in Winchester, New Hampshire. He was chairman of the board of
the Morningside Community which I directed for a number of years.
He served on that board for a number of years.
I am no longer associated with the church, except as pastor emeritus,
and the rule says when a minister is too old or infirm to shepherd
the flock he may retire with or without salary. They did not give
me any salary as pastor emeritus.
Mr. McNamara. Doctor, would you give more details about Oper-
ation Crossroads Africa, what the organization has done, is doing
today, and its major purpose.
Mr. Robinson. Yes. After I set up the Junior Year Abroad Pro-
gram, or helped to set it up, by doing the ground work for it in Asia,
groups of students from the University of California in Los Angeles ;
Oklahoma A&M, at Stillwater; and Syracuse, began projects of tak-
ing students out to Asia.
Then I went to Africa in 1954 for the first time on money supplied
from a Jewish family. Life magazine, and from Preshyterian Life
magazine to explore the possibility of involving groups of young
people from the United States when they are still in college, at the
grassroots level, for three major purposes :
First, to try to build a good unage of the United States in Africa
and to relate to African students who are going into leadership posi-
Secondly, to have each of these students when they come back, to
become interested in working in Africa. We did not care whether it
was for missions or State Department or USIS or AID or whether
it was in education or business, but we felt if you got a group of tough-
minded young people and involved them at the gi-assroots level for a
summer under very difficult conditions — and we say it is neither a
tourist joyride nor an African safari — that they will do great good for
America. Each student has to raise part of his own money — as much
as he can. They have to read 20 books in a semester, write a term
1932 TESTIMONY OF REV. JAIVIES H. ROBINSON
paper, be prepared to live simply in the rainy season, not in a big city,
and to give a good witness for what we believe.
We hoped they would go into African studies later on. That has
paid off. Of those who have gone, 30 percent are back in Africa. The
Peace Corps has a telegram waiting for every leader when he returns
to the United States asking them if they would not like to work for
them in Africa. Seventeen are in various positions with State,
through ICA or AID or various other services of the U.S. Government.
Some are in education in the universities and colleges and some are
working for the African governments. This smnmer we will be at
work in 21 countries, of East, West, and Central Africa.
Now we do this by utilizing the work-camp technique of going
into a village, building a little school, a maternity clinic, a road, a
well, or doing youth- and-sports projects, with hundreds of young
people developing a physical education program. Sometimes we have
taken teachers who have experience in teachmg here to help upgrade
the teachers of Africa. Eighty percent of the teachers of Africa have
less than an eighth grade education. But they are good people and if
the people who teach them will have the patience to work with them —
not Ph. D.'s from the universities and colleges, because they do not
talk the same language as African teachers who have not gone to
school — but if you get a good primary or high school teacher from
Washington, Philadelphia, and New York, and you get four or five
hundred of their teachers who have not gone very far, you can do
amazing things with them. We do not get very far unless we do a
great deal with 80 percent of the people who carry 90 percent of the
load, unless we help to upgrade them.
Mr. ScHADEBERG. What would you consider to be the difference in
the Peace Corps work and the Operation Crossroads Africa?
Mr. EoBiNSON. The essential differences are that the Peace Corps is
long-term and we are short-term. We take students who are still
in college, mainly, although we do take some teachers, doctors, and
nurses for more professional purposes as we are asked in East Nigeria,
by the Minister of Health. But most of those we are taking this
summer are your young people. They will do most of the things
that the Peace Corps does except most Peace Corps people are out of
school and ours are not. Our idea is to utilize the students to show
our belief in the people overseas to teach what self-help is, and how
we can help them by sharing with them and then prepare these stu-
dents with a knowledge of Africa and a desire to go into African stud-
ies permanently and be useful in many other ways.
These are the chief differences. We are kind of a feeder for Peace
Corps. If you do not mind my saying it, sometimes I say that they
ought to give us some money for building a reservoir for them, or
to help us, because we are entirely non-Government and voluntary
and so many Crossroaders go into the Peace Corps.
We think also that voluntary organizations have another dimen-
sion in this whole democratic framework we are trying to get across,
as an idea to the people. And equally important, in some aspects, is
this idea as a non-Govemment-aided project. Because when they can
see students like boys from Georgetown washing cars to raise money
to send five students, and girls &om Wellesley baby-sitting to help
TESTIMONY OF REV. JAMES. H. ROBINSON 1933
their colleagues go to Africa ; that means more than saying we have
a big gi-ant to send our people out to Africa.
Mr. Tuck. Are members of your organization paid?
Mr. Robinson. It costs about $1,700 per person. We give every-
body we accept $700 right off, except where the family can afford
to pay the whole thing and wants to. We ask the students to try to
get $1,000 for the privilege of being involved in this as an identifica-
tion and an indication of their interest. But we have to give scholar-
ships anywhere from $300 to $500, but everybody has to pay some-
thing. They raise the money. They go to the Rotary Club or the
Kiwanis or a women's group in the church or to the synagogue and
they get help and assistance that way.
Mr. ScHADEBERG. Is there anything you can do in Crossroads that
you cannot do in the Peace Corps ?
Mr. Robinson. We can move in many areas with a great deal less
suspicion than the Peace Corps. For example, when I was in Guinea,
and we were having great difficulty, we got Crossroads in 2 years
before the Peace Corps could get in.
In 1962, I had a long talk with President Toure and his cabinet —
July 1962, after which he asked me to wait outside. He said, "I am
going to cable the President and Sargent Shriver about bringing the
Peace Corps in and I hope you will do the same."
I had to leave and go to Accra and from the Embassy in Accra I
cabled Sargent Shriver. I told them I had had this conference and
would be willing t,o go back, if I could be of service. So now Peace
Corps is in. For example, we are going to be in Mali this year.
They have not let us in for 3 years. They really thought we were
not a bona fide non-Government organization and that we had Gov-
ernment support by the back door and were trying to fool them.
They have asked us to bring a basketball team and four experienced
coaches in youth and sports, in boxing, wrestling, field and track. We
will, therefore, be working with about 3,000 young people whom the
ministry of youth, sports and culture will get together. We selected
good athletes, but we also select people who can, in the evenings when
you are sitting down talking with people, also make a good witness
for the kind of thing we want to get across as far as ideas are con-
cerned as well. The only difficulty with this problem is we had to go
out and ask special people to come. Wlien you do that, you cannot
say, "You get $1,000 of it" because they say, "You really want me to
go and do this, don't you?" They say, "I don't have any money and
I have not got time to raise money."
A lot of people say, "Why send a basketball team ?" Sports are the
big thing— especially if you send young people who make the big-
gest impact on African youth who are going to have the greatest in-
fluence in Africa.
Mr. McNamara. Dr. Robinson, could you express briefly what your
work with the Peace Corps has involved? Wliat have you done in
your role as a member of the Advisory Council ?
Mr. Robinson. One summer when I was in Africa, I did a sounding
for them. First, what are the attitudes of European expatriates about
the Peace Corps. Second, what is the attitude, as far as I could get
it, of business people from other countries, mainly Europeans?
Thirdly, what is the attitude of people in power? Fourth, to see as
1934 TEiSTIMONY OF REV. JAMES H. ROBINSON
many of the people in the opposition movements as I could and to
do a confidential report about them, which I did one summer and sent
it back, I found it did not turn out to be confidential, however, be-
cause it got back to a lot of people in Africa after I had written
Then I helped in advising on the selection of certain personnel for
certain areas. Some I have approved enthusiastically. Some I have
said, I think it would be a mistake to take, especially if I knew them
well from Crossroads experiences. So I have had some advisory
capacity in this and I have worked on how to get more Negro person-
nel for the Peace Corps, which is, of course, a problem. However,
I have not been limited, mainly, to that.
Mr. McNamara. Do you receive any compensation from the U.S.
Government for vour services ?
Mr. Robinson. No, no compensation.
Mr. McNamara. Dr. Robinson, it is the committee's belief that to
best serve the purpose of the request you have made we should ask
you in considerable detail about some of your past activities that
have been brought up. Some of the organizations with which you
have been affiliated have been officially cited as Communist and others
have not, but in the committee's view, all of the organizations I will
mention, in one way or the otlier, were influenced by Communists. We
would like to ask you about these activities, how you became associated
with them, and so forth, and give you an opportunity to explain your
I think that perhaps the first question we should ask of you is:
Have you ever been a member of the Commimist Party ?
Mr. Robinson. I have never been a member of the Communist
Mr. McNamara. The United Youth Committee Against Lynching
was cited as a Communist front by this committee in 1944. The
Daily Workers of February 10 and 11, 1938, both on page 5, featured
articles which told of a mass rally which would be held at the con-
clusion of an anti-ljTich parade in the Harlem section of New York
on February 11, 1938. These articles revealed that this rally and
these parades were under the auspices of the United Youth Committee
Against Lynching and that, participating in the function, were the
Young Communist League, the Communist Party, the Workers Alli-
ance, the International Workers Order, and the Transport Workers
Union — all of which have been cited as Communist organizations ^ —
and also some non-Communist groups.
I was wondering if you recall this incident? It was quite a few
years back, of course. But if you do recall it, could you tell the com-
mittee how it was you became involved in this. These two Daily
Worker items I mentioned, by the way, mentioned the fact that you
were a speaker at the mass rally at the conclusion of this parade.
Mr. Robinson. I am not quite sure that I remember whether I spoke
at the parade, but I do remember helping to sponsor that meeting.
I think at the time, if I did not speak, I would have spoken, if there
was not something that stood in the way of some other obligation and
responsibility. I am not sure I did, but I would have, I think, if I had
^TWU leaders opposed the election of Communists to office In the union and defeated
the Communist slate.
TESTIMONY OF REV. JAMES. H. ROBINSON 1935
been there. My concern was, at the time, in 1938 — I was also the di-
rector of the youth activities for the NAACP on a part-time basis be-
fore I got out of theological seminary and all through my first year
and a half as founder of the Church of the Master, which I began the
first Sunday in May of 11)38.
I would have gone primarily because of my desire to stand against
lynching and at that time possibly nobody else except the NAACP was
doing that. I made it clear that I was not a Commmiist, even though
I did participate in things like this.
Mr. McNamai^v. To the best of your recollection, did you know at
that time that these Communist groups were participating in the pa-
rade and rally i
Mr. Robinson. At that time I did not know they were Communist-
Mr. McNamara. Would that apply to the Communist Party and
the Young Communist League ?
Mr. Robinson. That would not apply to the Communist Party and
the Young Communist League.
Mr. McNamara. It is true that these other organizations were not
cited, or that there was no official finding that they were Communist,
until later years, but I was just wondering what your basic position
or attitude was. Was it that you would support an activity m which
Communists were involved if you felt it served a cause you were in-
terested in ? Would that be it ?
Mr. Robinson. I did in those days. I would not do it now. With
age and experience, you learn a good many other things. But m those
things, when I had just come to the Church of the Master and was
involved in a great many things in the Harlem conunmiity, I did not
make the same distinctions that I would now.
Mr. McNamara. One of the Daily Worker items identified you as
president, at the time, and the other as director, of the United Youth
Neighborhood Center. Wliich was correct ?
Mr. Robinson. Neither was correct. It was the Morningside Com-
munity Center which I founded and of which I was the director. They
might have confused it with tlie West Harlem Council of Social
Agencies which was one of 13 divisions of welfare comicils in New
York. I was a chairman at that time.
Mr. McNamara. The next items concern the Emergency Peace
Mobilization Committee, which was cited by the Attorney General as
Communist in 1942 and by this committee in 1944. The background
of this group was that from 1935 — with the launching of the United
Front Against Fascism at the Comintern meeting in Moscow — until
1939, when Stalin signed a pact with Hitler, the Communist line was
to do everything to oppose Hitler. As soon as the pact was signed
in 1939, the Commimist Party flipped completely and various organi-
zations were set up with the idea of agitating and propagandizing
to keep the United States out of the war in Europe. They opposed
the draft, opposed defense preparations, opposed aid to England,
France, and other nations which were opposing Nazi Germany.
The Emergency Peace Mobilization was one of these organizations.
The letterhead of the Emergency Peace Mobilization Committee of
Greater New York, dated July 15, 1940, lists Rev. James H. Robinson
1936 TESTIMONY OF REV. JAMES H. ROBINSON
as a sponsor of the group. Do you recall, Dr. Robinson, your asso-
ciation with this group and how it came about ?
Mr. Robinson. It came about, I think, because at that time, or just
before that time, when I was a student at Union Seminary, Dr. Harry
F. Ward was involved in many of these peace groups. I trusted him
as a teacher, number 1. I knew that he was a liberal and I did a good
many things, along with some other students, and joined some com-
mittees, such as that one, to which I lent my name but never did much
work for because I was founding the church, the community center,
and a co-op store at the same time.
As I recollect, my interest in that and the League Against War and
Fascism was first gained through Dr. Harry F. Ward.
Mr. McNamara. To the best of your recollection, it was he who did
interest you in this and did influence you to serve as a sponsor of the
Mr. Robinson. That is right.
Mr. McNamara. The next item concerns the Committee To Defend
America by Keeping Out of War, an organization cited as Commu-
nist by this committee in 1944 and also serving the purpose of the
party line during the Stalin-Hitler pact. A letterhead of this com-
mittee, dated August 10, 1940, lists as one of its sponsors the Rev.
James Robinson, president of the Youth Section, NAACP. Do you
recall being a sponsor of the Committee To Defend America By Keep-
ing Out Of War?
Mr. Robinson. I do.
Mr. McNamara. Do you recall how it was you became involved with
this group ?
Mr, Robinson. I think I got involved because of work in the
NAACP youth groups. We were associated with a good many other
youth groups at the time and we were getting involved in many of
these problems, which were political problems as well as inter-racial
problems and problems about the community.
Mr. McNamara. This committee staged an "Emergency Peace Mo-
bilization" at the Chicago Stadium from August 31 to September 2,
1940. That was over the Labor Day weekend and the Daily Worker
of August 13, 1940, lists a number of "outstanding" leaders who had
endorsed the Chicago mobilization and who are actively serving on
the Committee To Defend America by Keeping Out of War. Listed
here is the Rev. James Robinson as one of these pereons.
Do you recall whether, as a sponsor of the Committee To Defend
America by Keeping Out of War, you received a request to give your
particular endorsement to the committee's mobilization, which was
called the Emergency Peace Mobilization ?
Mr. Robinson. I remember that vaguely. I do not know whether
I received such a request or not. I do remember that this meeting was
going to be held. I did not attend it. I was not an active member
of the committee. I am sure I never went to one single meeting, except
somewhere where I was going to be speaking for a church, college, or
Mr. McNamara, Another major front set up by the party during
the period of the Stalin-Hitler pact was the American Peace Mobiliza-
tion, which was cited by the Attorney General in 1942, by this com-
mittee the same year, and also by the Senate Internal Security Sub-
TESTIMONY OF REV. JAMES. H. ROBINSON 1937
committee many years later, in 1956. The American Peace Mobiliza-
tion was actually launched at the Emergency Peace Mobilization
which I luive just mentioned as being held in Chicago.
The Special Committee on Un-American Activities obtained the
minutes of a meeting of the Executive Board of the New York Coun-
cil of the American Peace Mobilization held on October 19, 1940. On
page three of tlie meeting minutes, we find a notation that the Rev.
James Robinson was nominated to the Executive Board of the New
York Comicil of the American Peace Mobilization.
Were you aware of the fact that you had been so nominated within
this organization and, if you do recall it and were aware of it, would
you give the committee some information concerning this development.
Mr. Robinson. I do not recall being nominated. I know one thing.
I never served and never went to a single meeting. I do not recall
even getting an invitation to a meeting. This might have been like
a good many things in which names were asked and used. I would
be much more careful about letting my name be used now than in
those days, although this is not the question you are asking.
Mr. McNamara. Again, relative to the American Peace Mobiliza-
tion, I have here a mimeographed letter attacking the Lend-Lease
bill. It is a letter of the National Religious Committee of the Ameri-
can Peace Mobilization and it lists the Rev. James Robinson as a mem-
ber of the Religious Committee of the American Peace Mobilization.
Do you recall being approached to serve on the Religious Commit-
tee of the American Peace Mobilization, and if so, by whom?
Mr. Robinson. I do not exactly recall who would have asked me to
do that. It could have been any one of a number of people. Again,
it would have been to lend my name more than anything else to it.
I was actively engaged in as much opportunity as I could find against
war and for peace, which I freely admit to. I do not recall who that
would have been. It could have been any number of one of the other
clergymen whose names and whose opinion and status I respected
and who, I think, took the same position I did.
Mr. McNamara. Do you recall whether or not Dr. Ward was also
active in the American Peace Mobilization ?
Mr. Robinson. Dr. Ward was active in almost every single one of
the peace-proposed groups.
Mr. McNamara. During this period there were some other groups
opposing America's entry into war, for example, the America First
Committee. I wonder if you ever thought of lending your support
to that group, as opposed to the American Peace Mobilization ?
Mr. Robinson. They never asked me for one thing. I suppose I
would have, for that same reason, loaned my name to it, although I
did not agree with some of their other principles. I did a great many
things if it was against lynching or for the betterment of the commu-
nity, loaned my name to groups at that time whose whole purposes I
did not agree with.
Mr. McNamara. Were you at all aware. Dr. Robinson, at the time,
that the American Peace Mobilization was either Communist-con-
trolled or influenced by Communists ?
Mr. Robinson. I was not aware it was Communist-controlled. I
did not know, in the beginning in most of these things, how many
people in them were Communists. I found out later that there were
1938 TESTIMONY OF REV. JAMES H. ROBINSON
some Communists in it. I did not always resign from a committee,
even though they were using my name, even when I found there were
Communists in it, because I felt I should keep abreast of what they
were thinking and it was a way to express my point of view.
Mr. McNamara. Did you find, when you were associated with some
of these groups you had in mind when you made this last statement,
that you could make statements of opposing points of view and have
any influence on the organization — in the sense of undercutting their
subservience to the Communist Party line ?
Mr. Robinson. I did not convert anybody. Of that I am sure. On
the other hand, sometimes I utilized the opportunity on a platform to
make a position clear to people coming to a public meeting, but they
never published this like they published all the other things.
Mr. McNamara. Do you recall whether or not George Murphy, who
was with the NAACP in New York in the 1930's and 1940's and whom
you may have known, at any time influenced you to affiliate yourself
with some of these organizations ?
Mr. Robinson. George Murphy was my superior in the NAACP.
He was on the national staff at that time, and I worked with him
closely on a good many things. It was not for a couple of years that
I began to have some suspicion of George Murphy myself, later on.
But he was my superior in the NAACP.
Mr. McNamara. It was not until 1950, actually, that he was iden-
tified as a member of the party before this committee, but he has been
so identified and we were wondering if he did influence you in any way
for that reason.
Mr. Tuck. After you learned of the purposes of these various
groups, have you at any time since then publicly repudiated them or
disassociated yourself from them in any way ?
Mr, Robinson. Yes, on a number of occasions, which, unfortunately,
do not get into the record. For example, one that has not come up yet
is that group. Council on African Affairs, and I went out and orga-
nized — once I knew what they were doing — the African Academy of
Art. and Research in which Mr. Bundy participated. I got Governor
Ball of Connecticut, and Mrs. Roosevelt, and others, to put up a house
by City College [New York City] to begin doing constructive things
with African students, because most of them were being involved
through the Council of African Affairs, which was a decided front
organization. I spoke about that many times, and it took a long time
to get anybody to listen in New York to give us the money to do the
opposite in the African Academy of Art and Research.
We opened a house on 144th Street to involve as many African
students as we could in another whole concept.
Mr. McNamara. Dr. Robinson, the Daily Worker of May 27, 1941,
on pages one and five, featured a public statement which condemned the
defense program of the United States and the war effort for restricting
Negro rights and also the democratic liberties of the entire people.
These articles listed as signers of this statement — and this was issued
just a few weeks prior to Hitler's attack on Russia — the Rev. James
H. Robinson of the Church of the Master. Do you recall who so-
licited your signature or your endorsement of this statement?
Mr. Robinson. I do not recall who solicited my endorsement. I
recall the statement and my interest was specifically in terms of Ne-
TESTIMONY OF REV. JAMES. H. ROBINSON 1939
groes in the war effort that I thought they should have been given a
greater opportunity, for example, and that was my basic interest.
Mr. iMcNAMAR.\, Could you tell me whether or not you were sup-
plied in advance with the text of this statement before it was released ?
Mr. Robinson. I would have to admit categorically in those days I
was not always very wise and often I did not see these statements.
Mr. McNamara. Do you recall whether or not, m this particular
case, you did see this statement ?
Mr. Robinson. I do not really believe I did.
Mr. ]\IcNamara. The initiating group behind this statement in-
cluded Ferdinand C. Smith, Doxey A. Wilkerson, and Paul Robeson,
a 11 of whom have since been identified as members of the Communist
Party. I was wondering if you knew any of these men and recalled
whether or not they might have apj)roached you to sign this statement ?
Mr. Robinson. It could have been Ferdinand C. Smith, because I
was involved in a nmnber of other community problems with him.
He, at the time, was a member of the board of the West Council As-
sociations, of which I was chainnan, and working in. Doxey Wilker-
son, I knew who he was. I was surprised later on to fhid some of the
involvements and accusations made against hhn. Wasn't he at How-
ard University ?
Mr. Mais. Yes.
]\Ir. McNamara. Did you know Ferdinand C. Smith to be a Com-
mmiist at any time w^hile you had these contacts with him ?
Mr. Robinson. I did not know him to be a Commmiist. I was not
surprised when he had to leave the countiy, because I thought I could
see some trends in that direction later on. But in the beginning I
did not know him to be a Commmiist nor did I suspect him to be a
Communist m the beginning when I first knew him.
Mr. McNamara. Dr. Robinson, on June 21, 1941, Hitler attacked
the Soviet Union, thus ending the Stalin-Hitler pact and also bring-
ing about a reversal in Communist Party policy. It shifted then
from peace and avoidance of war to just the opposite, all-out U.S.
participation, aid to the allies, and so on, and shortly after that the
Daily Worker^ of September 28, 1941, featured a message sent to a
meeting of anti-Nazi youth held in Moscow, pledging to the Soviet
youth "our fullest support in their struggles to destroy Hitler." The
Daily Worker item listed the Rev. James Robinson, Church of the
Master, as one of the signers of this message. I was wondering if you
recalled signing the message ?
Mr. Robinson. I believe I signed that message.
Mr. McNamara. Would you have any comjnent to make on it?
Do you recall who approached you to sign it ? This message, appar-
ently, was not sponsored or organized under any particular group,
as far as the article indicated.
Mr. Robinson. I do not recall who would have asked me to do
this. I do not recall the facts of who it would have been.
Mr. McNamara. Could you tell the committee how it is that just
a few months prior to this time, and during the year or two prior
to this time — in various activities of the Emergency Peace Mobiliza-
tion, the American Peace Mobilization — you were opposing the idea
of becoming involved in the war against Hitler but were now takmg
1940 TESTIMONY OF REV. JAMES H. ROBINSON
the position that there should be intense, shall \ve say, anti-Nazi
activity. "We must go all out in opposition to Nazi Germany."
Mr. Robinson. In my work with a lot of groups like the Hadassah
and the United Jewish Women, I always had a strong anti-Hitler
attitude. This change comes to me in the terms of more realization
of where you stand in a very real world of force and of struggle and
of power and evil, that you have to stand up against it and take
That was the beginning which coincides with their change and this
may have helped it some, I am quite honest to say. But it is where
you have to stand. You can be for peace, but you have to be con-
structively for peace and sometimes that means you have to purchase
it sometimes with your own life.
Mr. McNamara. To some extent it would be Hitler's attack on the
Soviet Union that woke you up to this view ?^
Mr. Robinson. I would not say it was Hitler's attack on the Soviet
Union by itself, alone, that woke me up to it. I had all these prob-
lems in my own mind that I struggled with during this period. I
wanted to be a pacifist, but could never bring myself to really be a
pacifist. I wanted to, but I could not. I would like to do it now,
but I cannot.
Mr. Tuck. We will take a short recess.
Mr. Tuck. You may proceed now.
Mr. McNamara. Dr. Robinson, in the Neio York Herald-Tribune^
issue of October 27, 1942, page 13, there was published a petition
sponsored by Kenneth Leslie, the editor of the Protestant. This
petition stated that in response to the request of "our sorely pressed"
Russian allies for a new Western front, the signers were calling upon —
anti-Fascist nations to make open and outright and immediate war upon all
Fascist nations and to attack at once all these points of power whose "neutrality"
is the mere option by the Axis to be taken up at its convenience.
The name of the Rev. James H. Robinson of New York appears as one
of the signers.
Do you recall giving your endorsement to this petition, or signing
Mr. Robinson. I do.
Mr. McNamara. And the circumstances surrounding it?
Mave_ reference to were actually identified as members of the Com-
munist Party, by witnesses before the committee?
Mr. Robinson. No, the people I had in mind, and who I was con-
cerned about, were people I was convinced were not Communists and
were never cited as such.
Mr. McNamara. Were they cited by the committee, that you know,
and did they suffer any penalties such as dismissal ?
Mr. Robinson. They did not suffer the penalties of dismissal, but
th^ suffered a great deal in many other occasions, as I myself have
suffered, because many people have assumed since I did some of these
1946 TESTIMONY OF REV. JAMES H. ROBINSON
things, I was a Communist or a fellow traveler, neither of which I
Mr. McNamara. Do you think it unfair, Doctor — I am trying to
get an objective view ot this whole situation — for a committee, shall
we say, or for private citizens, to become somewhat suspicious of an
individual when the public record indicates he has been associated
with Communist causes ?
Mr. Robinson. I think it is logical that people looking at a long
document of involvement could arrive at that conclusion. My own
hope woud be that they would be willing to assay the facts and find
out the reasons why, and then look at the outside of the record which
is what bothers me sometimes.
Mr. McNamara. That is one of the problems we face with com-
munism. If a man has a long record of supporting Boy Scout fimc-
tions, we can conclude pretty logically and certainly that he is an en-
dorser and supporter of the Boy Scouts. Only with Communist fronts
it is a different matter because, by their very definition, they have what
Communists call "innocents" in them, people they have duped into sup-
porting the organization. By the same token, however, they also have
Communists in them. This is one of the difficulties we have faced in
this country for 20 or 30 years or more — finding out who is who or who
is which. Congressional committees face it. State legislative subcom-
mittees, and security agencies.
Mr. Robinson. I submit this is a difficult problem.
(At this point Mr. Tuck left the hearing room.)
Mr. IciioRD. Proceed, Mr. McNamara.
Mr. McNamara. Dr. Robinson, the New York Conference for In-
alienable Riglits was cited as Communist by this committee in 1944.
It was one of the groups active in New York during the period of the
Rapp-Coudert investigations, which opposed that investigation. The
Daily Worker of November 11, 1940, page five, reported that:
A conference against the attempt to curb educational facilities in New York
State and to limit the civil rights of teachers by the Rapp-Coudert Investigating
Committee will be held * * •.
It listed a number of individuals who reportedly had agreed to
sponsor the meeting, and it lists the Rev. James H. Robinson as one
of them. This conference was held in the Hotel Pennsylvania in New
York City on November 19, 1940, under the sponsorship of The New
York Conference for Inalienable Rights.
Do you recall this event and whether or not you did support the
Mr. Robinson. I think I supported the meeting but I do not believe
I was there.
Mr. McNamara. The letterhead of the New York Conference for
Inalienable Rights, dated November 25, 1941, about a year later, lists
the Rev. James H. Robinson as a member of its State Advisoi-y Coun-
cil. To the best of your recollection, did you sen^e on the State Ad-
visory Council of the New York Conference for Inalienable Rights?
Mr. Robinson. I did not. I never went to a single meeting, if they
had any meetings.
Mr. McNamara. Do you recall who solicited your support, for the
conference held at the Hotel Pennsylvania on November 19, which we
have just mentioned ?
TESTIMONY OF REV. JAMES. H. ROBINSON 1947
Mr. KoBiNsoN. Do you have a list there, again ?
1 hate to take the coimiiittee's time to do this.
Mr. McNamara. There are quite a few names and the Daily Worker
also lists a considerable number of names.
Mr. KoBiNSON. It might have been Jack McMichael, who was chair-
man of the American Youth Congress, whom I knew, or William
Pickens, with whom I was working at the time on the staff of the
NAACP, or Dr. Guy Emery Shipler, or Norman Sibley, whom I knew
very well at the University Heights Presbyterian Church, or Jolin
Paul Jones, or Dr. Harry F. Ward.
Mr. McNamara. Dr. Robinson, another group which protested the
hearings of the Rapp-Coudert committee was the National Federa-
tion for Constitutional Liberties, cited by the Attorney General in
1942, by this committee in 1942, and the Senate Internal Security
Subcommittee in 1957. This organization held a conference to protest
the Rapp-Coudert committee at the Hotel Pennsylvania on July 27,
1942. This gathering was called a Conference to Protect our Free
Public Schools from Coudertism and Defeatism. And the flyer or
piece of literature distributed announcing this event, the call to the
conference, actually bears the caption "For Victory Over Fascism In
Our Schools." It contains the name of the Rev. James H. Robinson as
sponsor of the conference. Do you recall sponsoring this conference ?
Mr. Robinson. I believe I do recall sponsoring that conference.
Mr. McNamara. Again, do you recall who solicited your support
Mr. Robinson. I do not recall who it was, but when you look down
these names you see a list of a good many other people whom I suppose
were in the same position I was, and who had concerns for causes, but
not concern for who was sponsoring the cause and what ultimate aims
they might have.
Mr. McNamara. Could you tell us this, Doctor. At the time you
were lending your support to those organizations, opposing the Rapp-
Coudert hearings, were you domg so because you were opposed to the
elimination of Communists from teaching positions, or from the edu-
cational system in New York City? Basically, the purpose of the
Rapp-Coudert committee was to eliminate the Communists who had
infiltrated the New York City school system. I was wondering if your
support of these various groups was based on your belief that Commu-
nists should be permitted to teach and you were, therefore, opposed
to the basic concept of this hearing, this investigation ?
Mr. Robinson. No, I was not against it, if I can say this right, be-
cause they wanted to get Communists out of it. That would not have
been my position. I was for keeping the Communists out in the open
and not disbarring them, because I always thought it was better deal-
ing with them in the open than having to deal with them behind. This
was always my position, but I did not take this position, because I
wanted to see Communists put out of the system. I did this, because I
did not like some of the ways the committee was working but I was
not then nor ever have been in favor of protecting Communists or
Mr. McNamara. The American Youth Congress was cited by this
committee in 1939, by the Attorney General in 1942. This organiza-
tion was active in the late 1930's and early 1940's. It originally was a
1948 TESTIMONY OF REV. JAMES H. ROBINSON
broad youth organization which was comprised of both Communists
and non-Commmiist groups. Eventually, the Communists did suc-
ceed in taking it over completely. In July 1940, the American
Youth Congress held its sixth annual meeting in Wisconsin. The
theme of this meeting was a protest against American aid to Eng-
land and France. This was the time of the Hitler-Stalin pact. The
report of the conference, a copy of which I have here, identifies James
Robinson as one of the organization's representatives-at-large. Do
you recall holding that position with the American Youth Congress
at the time ?
Mr. Robinson. No, I never had any such position as that.
Mr. McNamara. Were you in any way affiliated with the Amer-
ican Youth Congress — a member, or an officer, or an official ?
Mr. Robinson. I represented the youth department of the NAACP
in relationship to that group in association with a number of organ-
izations at the time who were associated with the overall American
Mr. McNamara. Do you recall whether or not you participated in
that sixth annual meeting in Wisconsin ?
Mr. Robinson. No, I did not.
Mr. McNamara. The Daily Worker of October 28, 1940, pages one
and two, reported that a number of youth leaders throughout the coun-
try had issued a statement expressing concern about the legal right
of minority parties, including the Communist Party, to a place on the
ballot. It lists the Rev. James Robinson as a signer of this state-
ment. I notice that the statement was issued by Jack McMichael who
was then chairman of the American Youth Congress. You previously
indicated that you were acquainted with Mr., now Rev. McMichael.
Do you recall signing this statement ?
Mr. Robinson. I recall signing that statement. Jack McMichael —
I first knew him down at the King Mountain Field Conference of the
Student Christian Movement at the North Carolina meeting, where
the Presbyterian Church in the United States had its summer con-
ference headquarters at Montreat. He was head of the Southern
movement of the Student Christian Movement. Later on he became
involved in this and went on to other things.
Mr. McNamara. Do you recall whether you were shown the text
of this statement before it was issued ? I ask that because I see here,
reading from this statement :
In the State of New York today, a campaign of terrorism and brutal intimi-
dation is being conducted against individuals who have signed nominating peti-
tions for the Communist Party.
As an old-time New Yorker, and actually living in the city as of
that date, October 28, 1940, I do not recall any such activity. I was
just wondering if you were aware of the fact, when you signed the
statement, that it contained such an accusation and whether or not
you might have had knowledge of such a campaign of terrorism ?
Mr. Robinson. There certainly was no campaign of terrorism. I
would not have signed that statement, if I had read the whole thing.
My interest, mainly, as I indicated before, was keeping them out in
the open, a position which developed even more fully later on.
Mr. McNamara. Dr. Robinson, the American Student Union was
cited as a Communist front by this committee in 1939. The Daily
TESTIMONY OF REV. JAMES. H. ROBINSON 1949
Worker of October 9, 1940, reported that on the following day there
would be peace demonstrations on 10 New York City campuses and
that these meetings were timed to coincide with nationwide peace
demonstrations sponsored on 110 other campuses by the American
Student Union. These demonstrations were sponsored as part of its
national student "Walk-Out on War." The Daily Worker, the issue
which I have just mentioned, reported that Rev. James Robinson
would speak at one of these rallies, the one held at Brooklyn College
(evening school) . Do you recall whether or not you actually did speak
at that rally ?
Mr. Robinson. I am sure I did not speak at that rally. I did speak
at another rally on the campus of Colimibia.
Mr. McNamara. On this date, the same date? Do you know if it
was part of this "Walk-Out on War" demonstration ?
Mr. Robinson. That was in the fall, wasn't it? No, I spoke at
Columbia at a rally against war in the spring of that year.
Mr. McNamara. Do you recall who requested you to make this
Mr. Robinson. I do not recall the individual at the time. I wish
my memory served me a good deal more at this period in detail about
Mr. McNamara. Do you, today, have any recollection or knowledge
or suspicion, at that time, that the American Student Union might
have been under Communist control or infiltrated by Communists
and influenced by them ?
Mr. Robinson. At the time I did not have that feeling.
Mr. McNamara. The Daily Worker of March 5, 1941, page two, pub-
lished a statement protesting the United States Government's attitude
toward the Communist Party and the fact that it had been ruled off
the ballot in 15 States in recent elections. That issue of The Worker
listed the Rev. James H. Robinson as one of the signers of this state-
ment. Will you tell the committee whether or not you do recall sign-
Mr. Robinson. I believe I did sign that statement.
Mr. McNamara. Do you recall who solicited your signature, or any
of the circumstances surrounding your signing ?
Mr. Robinson. Well, this was a position that I had at the time and
I was opposed to having it ruled illegal; not that I was for it, a
position which I have developed in many other areas. I would like
to state at the end of these documents, more fully, my position and I
have used it in other connections later on. I do not recall who asked
me to do this.
Mr. McNamara. To the best of your recollection. Doctor — I am not
sure of the developments that took place in each one of these 15
States — do you recall any particulars and specifically on what grounds
the party was ruled ofi' the ballot, whether it was on the grounds that
it did not meet the qualifications established by the various States for
political parties, or what it might have been ?
Mr. Robinson. The details? I honestly cannot say that I know
about the States as to why it was ruled off the ballot.
Mr. McNamara. The Citizens' Committee To Free Earl Browder,
was cited as Communist by the Attorney General of the United States
in 1942 and this committee in 1944. That committee, of course, was
1950 TESTIMONY OF REV. JAMES H. ROBINSON
set up to try to win a pardon or the release of Earl Browder from the
Atlanta Penitentiary where he was serving a prison sentence for
fraudulent use of passports. He was, at that time, general secretary
of the Communist Party. The People^s Voice, issue of March 21,
1942, featured a full-page advertisement of the Citizens' Committee To
Free Earl Browder. It lists the Rev. James H. Robinson as one of
these who had signed a petition for Earl Browder 's release.
Do you recall whether or not you did sign such a petition ?
Mr. Robinson. I think I would have signed that on the basis that
it was the feeling at that time, at least, this is what I was led to believe,
that Browder could be used by the United States in the prosecution
of the war effort.
Mr. McNamara. Could you tell where, when, or how, you gained
that impression, or who gave you that impression ?
Mr. Robinson. It could have come from any number of people in
those days. It might have been from — members of this connection at
the time, I hate to use names, because I do not know.
Mr. ScHADEBEKG. It could have come from some literature. I am a
clergyman so I know that it might have come across the desk either in
a professional magazine, or even a church magazine.
Mr. Robinson. It could have come from that and even from a num-
ber of groups having the peace idea. Some of those people I knew
and was in contact with for some time.
Mr. McNamara. Did it ever occur to you as being rather strange
that some people you might have been acquainted with during the pe-
riod of the Stalin-Hitler pact and who were violently pro-peace and
against U.S. participation in the war — did it ever occur to you to be
strange that, immediately after the break in the pact occasioned by
Hitler's attack on Stalin, these people just switched to the opposite
position. They became violently pro-war; they could not do enough
to promote the war effort, and so forth.
Mr. Robinson. That began to dawn on me, I would say, 3 or 4 or 5
months after this switch came, when I began to think out a good many
things for myself. Yes, I did begin to wonder about this.
Mr. McNamara. Doctor, do you recall any other cases during World
War II in which someone had been imprisoned for a conviction under
a criminal statute and concerning whom you felt he could help the war
effort if he were released — and therefore you might have signed a
petition for his release?
Mr. Robinson. I can think of no one else, no.
Mr. McNamara. The National Federation for Constitutional
Liberties was cited as Communist by the Attorney General in 1942,
by this committee in 1942, by the Senate Internal Security Subcom-
mittee in 1957. In January 1943, at the start of the 78th Congress, a
message was submitted to the House of Representatives sponsored by
the National Federation for Constitutional Liberties, urging that the
Committee on Un-American Activities be abolished as a step toward
U.S. victory in World War II. This petition, a facsimile of which I
have in my hand, lists the Rev. James H. Robinson, Church of the
Master, New York, New York, as one of the signers. Do you recall
signing this petition ?
Mr. Robinson. Mr. Dies was head of the committee then, wasn't he?
Mr. McNamara. That is right.
TESTIMONY OF REV. JAMES. H. ROBINSON 1951
Mr. Robinson. I remember sig-ning this. This is a damaging admis-
sion, but I have to admit it. I signed it.
Mr. JNIcNamailv. Do you recall who approached you to sign this
petition, or any of the circumstances surrounding the development?
Mr. Robinson. Well, I had had a great deal of discussion about Mr.
Dies and the committee over the whole period of its formation and
development with a good many people that I talked with. I think this
one I did on my own without anybody influencing me or suggesting
that I do it.
Mr. McNajiara. In other words, you heard of this petition perhaps
being circulated by the National Federation for Constitutional
Mr. Robinson. They probably sent it to me knowing my feeling
about a number of things.
Mr. McNamara. May I ask if, at the time, you had any suspicion or
belief that the National Federation for Constitutional Liberties was
a Communist-front organization?
Mr. Robinson. I honestly cannot answer that categorically. I
would not want to say that I did or did not, when I am not sure.
Mr. McNamara. Dr. Robinson, the Daily Worker of January 13,
1943, page three, mentions a meeting at which Benjamin J. Davis, Jr.,
New York County Chairman of the Communist Party, w^ould review a
recently published book written by Earl Browder, the leader of the
United States Communist Party. This meeting was to be held on
January 15, 1943, in New York City, and it reports that the Rev.
James H. Robinson would serve as chairman of this meeting. Do you
recall whether or not you did serve as chairman of that meeting?
Mr. Robinson. I did not serve as chairman of that meeting.
Mr. McNamara. Do you have any recollection of having been asked
to do so ?
Mr. Robinson, I think at that time Ben Davis was a city council-
man, was he not ?
Mr. McNamara. That is right.
Mr. Robinson. And I had supported his candidacy because nobody
else w^as nominating Negroes at that time. He probably could have
asked me about this, but I did not and would not want to be associated
in that way at the time, and I did not accept, if I were asked.
Mr. McNamara. You say then, that you do not recall it specifically,
but if you had been asked it might have been by Davis — or do you
recall definitely being asked and refusing ?
Mr. Robinson. I do not recall being asked and refusing. But that
is not a meeting that I would have chaired.
Mr. McNamara. The National Negro Congress, Dr. Robinson, was
cited as a Communist-front organization by the Attorney General in
1942, by this committee in 1939, and by the Subversive Activities Con-
trol Board in 1957.
The Daily Worker of March 15, 1943, page three, reported that the
National Negro Congress had called a protest meeting which was to
be held the following Thursday night at the Church of the Master, of
which I believe you were then pastor. The purpose of the meeting
was to demand the immediate release of George A. Burrows, who had
been charged with attempted rape and whom Governor Dewey of New
1952 TESTIMONY OF REV. JAMES H, ROBINSON
York liad extradited to Mississippi. Do you recall this meeting being
hel d at the Church of the Master ?
Mr. EoBiNSON. I recall that incident. I think I recall that meeting
being held at the Church of the Master.
Mr. McNamara. The Daily Worker of March 20, 1943, page three,
reported that you spoke at the "Save George Burrows Rally" held at
the Church of the Master. Do you recall whether or not you did speak
at the rally?
Mr. Robinson. If they were there in my church and I was there, I
Mr. McNamara. Do you recall the incidents surrounding the meet-
ing, that is, who approached you and requested that the meeting be
held in your church? I presume it would be someone from the Na-
tional Negro Congress.
Mr. Robinson. I knew a lot of people in that Congress which was
headed by John Davis at the time.
I forget his middle initial. John P. Davis, I think it was, who
headed it up at that time. And I would have been asked by them,
because I had taken a position already from stories in the newspapers,
mainly, the Ar)isterdam Netos, I suppose. I do not loiow when Peo-
pWs Voice went out of business, but I stated I thought the Governor
had made a mistake in extraditing this man and I made that per-
fectly clearly understood in my own position.
Mr. ]\IcNamaha. Were you aware, or did you suspect at the time,
that the National Negro Congress was Communist-controlled ?
Mr. Robinson. In the beginning, I did not suspect that it was. I
thought it was another bona fide organization going out to fight for
the rights of Negroes and full citizenship. Later on, I would say
about 1944 or 1945, I came to know a great deal more about the Na-
tional Negro Congress and entered into active opposition with the
NAACP to them.
Mr. McNamara. Are you acquainted with A. Philip Randolph?
Mr. Robinson. Yes.
Mr. McNamara. Certain material appeared in the Congressional
Record of September 24, 1942, concerning the National Negro Con-
gress and A. Philip Randolph. I was just wondering if you were
aware of this? It states that Mr. Randolph, president of the Na-
tional Negro Congress since its inception in 1936, refused to rim again
in April 1940 "on the ground that it [the National Negro Congress]
was deliberately packed with Communists and Congress of Indus-
trial Organization members who were either Communists or sym-
patliizers with Communists".
I was wondering if you were familiar with the fact that A. Philip
Randolph had taken this action as early as 1940 after serving as presi-
dent of the Congress for 4 years ?
Mr. Robinson. No, I was not aware of that.
Mr. McNamara. The DaHy Worker of March 17, 1943, page tliree,
reported that the 11th Assembly District Club of the Communist Party
called an "action mass meeting" for that da,y to protest "high prices,
high rents, and Negro job discrimination." The Daily Worker also
listed certain persons who were sponsors and endorsers of this meet-
ing, including the Rev. James H. Robinson. Do you care to make
any comment on this report? Do you remember that meeting?
TESTIMONY OF REV. JAMES. H. ROBINSON 1953
Mr. EoBiNSON. I do not remember the meeting, but I was active in
the -whole business of extremely high prices in the Harlem community
and, among other things, started a co-op store and a credit union to
combat it on my own through the church. I would have been involved
in something like this, I think, knowing full well they were Com-
munists at that point to get up and state a position that I thought I
wanted to get across.
Mr, ]\IcNamara. Were you then a resident of the 11th Assembly
District; do you recall?
Mr. Robinson. Where is it ?
Mr. JMcNamara. The mass meeting was at All Souls Church at the
corner of 114th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue. Among the speakers
were Benjamm Davis, along with a number of other people. Do
you recall ever having been approached by anyone whom j^ou knew to
be associated with the 11th Assembly District Club of the Communist
Party to support any of its f mictions?
Mr. IvOBiNSON. I do not think they would have sent anyone to me, as
I look back on it, now, anybody from the Communist Party who I
would suspect to be a Communist to ask me to do anything.
Mr. McNajiara. Do you happen to recall who any of the officers of
that 11th Assembly District Club might have been at that time?
Mr. Robinson. I do not.
Mr. McNamara. I have here. Dr. Robinson, a flyer distributed by the
9tli Assembly District Club of the Communist Party advertising
"Forums for Victory" andthis flyer specifically mentions a symposium
held on Thursday, April 22, 1943. It says here Rev. James H. Robin-
son, Church of the Master, and two others — Minna Harkavy, famous
sculptress, and Isadore Begmi, War Activities Director, New York
State Committee, Communist Party — would speak at the symposium.
This was held at the Hotel Newton, Broadway and 94th Street, at
Do you recall this afi^air and whether or not you did, as advertised in
this item, speak at it ?
Mr. Robinson. To the best of my memory, I did not.
Mr. McNamara. Do you recall ever being approached by the 9th
Assembly District Club of the Communist Party to speak at any of
its Forums for Victory ?
Mr. Robinson. I do not recall it. I have no doubt they would have
Mr. McNamara. Doctor, do you have a copy of the excerpt from the
hearing of this committee on May 3, 1955 ?
Mr. Robinson. Yes. I haA^e.
Mr. McNamara. This is a hearing at which Mildred Blauvelt, a
New York City police undercover agent in the party, testified. Blau-
velt Exhibit No. 1 is a notice she had received about this series of four
Forums for Victory, which also listed you. Rev. James Robinson, as
one of the speakers on April 22. You liave had a chance to review this
exhibit, but to the best of your knowledge — if I recall your testimony
correctly — you do not remember that you were actually billed as a
speaker or actually spoke on that occasion ?
Mr. Robinson. I do not recall, but let me answer it this way: "Wlio
is Isadore Begun ? The name is unfamiliar to me. And if I spoke, and
I may have spoken, it would have been because I was working strongly
1954 TESTIMONY OF REV. JAMES H. ROBINSON
then with a great many Jewish groups against anti-semitism. I would
have spoken only for that reason and under those circumstances.
Mr. McNamara. You mean that you may, then, actually have spoken
at that affair ?
Mr, KoBiNSON. On the 22nd, yes, of April.
Mr. McNamara. And at that period then, I gather, you believed
that cooperation with the Communist Party, to the extent of appearing
at its affairs, was, shall we say, a proper thing ?
Mr. Robinson. What was the date again, of this, 1943 ?
Mr. McNamara. This is April 22, 1943.
Mr. Robinson. I would say that at that time I believed if I could
utilize the Communist Party for things that I believed in, although I
knew it was a hazardous pursuit to try to do so, that I should try to
Mr. McNamara. Have you since found out that the Communists
have used anti-semitism, or the elimination of anti-semitism and the
elimination of prejudice or discrimination of all kinds, including dis-
crimination against Negroes, more as a tool to aid their own purposes,
than as a sincere position they are taking ?
Mr. Robinson. Yes, I found out a lot of things about the methods
of the Communist Party in utilizing these things, and I have written
extensively about them, especially a chapter on communism in a book
called Totnorrow Is Today which was published in 1954.
Mr. McNamara, Dr. Robinson, in 1943, Benjamin J- Davis was the
Communist Party candidate for the New York City Council. The
Daily Worker of October 5, 1943, page four, recorded that the Rev.
James H. Robinson was chairman of the Ministers Committee to Elect
Benjamin J. Davis. Would you care to make any comment or explana-
tion about this item? To the best of your recollection, were you
chairman of the Ministers Committee to Elect Benjamin J. Davis?
Mr. Robinson. I was.
Mr. McNamara. Could you tell me on whose suggestion or initiative
you assumed that position ?
Mr. Robinson. Probably Ben Davis asked me himself,
Mr. McNamara. Did you participate in, shall we say, a founding
meeting of this committee? Do you know how it was organized?
Mr. Robinson. No, I do not know how it was organized- Possibly
after it was organized, I, with a group of other ministers, agreed,
after I was approached, to be chairman of the committee to try to
get a Negro elected to the City Council. I do not recall at the time
whether Mr. Powell was running at that point or not. I think not, in
1943, and I wanted to see some Negro become involved in the govern-
ment of the city of New York and neither the Democratic nor the
Republican Party would nominate anybody. And so I supported him.
Mr. McNamara. Do you recall whether or not an organization meet-
ing of this group was called and whether or not at that meeting you
were elected chairman — or were you just named by Ben Davis?
Mr. Robinson. Actually, I was asked to be chairman. I was not
elected chairman, and I was probably asked by Davis if I would be
the chairman of this committee, as in former years I was asked by
a number of people if I would be chairman of several committees for
office in New York, like Earl Brown when he ran for City Council
and some others, some of whom I acceded to and some I did not.
TESTIMONY OF REV. JAMES. H. ROBINSON 1955
Mr. McNamar.\. I gather, Doctor, from some of the statements you
have made in this testimony that were Ben Davis to run today you
would not accept if you were asked to be chairman of his committee,
is that correct?
Mr. Robinson. I would bo chairman of the committee on the other
side, if I had the chance.
Mr. McNamara. Would you state approximately when your posi-
tion on this matter changed ?
Mr. Robinson- I think my position on these matters began to change
in the middle 1940-s toward the end of the war and were solidified, I
would say, by 1949-1950, when I took a whole new position which I
referred to previously. After I took that trip abroad for the Presby-
terian Church in 1951 and 1952 to see who was winning the minds of
young people and learned a good many more things outside of this
country that I had not learned while I was in it — although I had
learned a good many things about communism in this country — I think
my change was completed.
Mr. McNamara. Doctor, I believe you stated you were acquainted
with Ferdinand C. Smith, is that correct ?
Mr. Robinson. Yes.
Mr. McNamara. Do you recall a testimonial dinner in honor of
Ferdinand C. Smith held in New York City at the Hotel Commodore
on September 20, 1944, which, according to the program, you
Mr. Robinson. I remember that.
Mr. McNamara. Do you have any knowledge of who organized this
dinner in honor of Ferdinand C. Smith ?
Mr. Robinson. I do not recall at the moment.
Mr- McNamara. Do you recall, by any chance, who approached you
and asked you to support the dinner ?
Mr. Robinson. That, I do not recall. It could have been Ferdinand
Smith himself, on the basis that I knew him, I worked with him in
1938, 1939, 1940, and 1941, as I indicated on a number of community
projects, welfare and social committees in the Harlem community.
Mr. McNamara. Do you recall whether or not you attended the
Mr. Robinson. I am pretty sure I did not attend the dinner.
Mr. McNamara. I believe you testified earlier that you were not
surprised when Smith was removed from his post in the National
Maritime Union for Communist activities and was subsequently de-
ported — or am I thinking of someone else ?
Mr. Robinson. He was asked to leave the country and went to the
West Indies. I made that statement a moment ago.
Mr. McNamara. Dr. Robinson, in 1943, the Communist Party aban-
doned its Young Communist League and formed in its stead an orga-
nization called the American Youth for Democracy. This organiza-
tion absorbed both the Young Communist League members and also,
to a great extent, the American Youth Congress people. On Octo-
ber 16, 1944, on the occasion of the first anniversary of the American
Youth for Democracy a "Salute to Young America" dinner was held.
The American Youth for Democracy, by the way, was cited by this
committee in 1944, the Attorney General in 1947, and the Senate In-
ternal Security Subcommittee in 1956. The program for this dinner.
1956 TESTIMONY OF REV. JAAIES H. ROBINSON
which I have mentioned, lists the Rev. James H. Robinson as one of the
sponsors of it.
Do you recall sponsoring that dinner? It was held at the Hotel
Commodore on October 16, 1944 ?
Mr. Robinson. I am not very familiar with that in my recollection.
T likely could have been one of the sponsors of it.
Mr. McNamara. But you have no clear or concise recollection, is
that correct ?
Mr. Robinson. No, as to whether I participated in the meeting and
the dinner or not.
Mr. McNamara. Can you tell us whether or not you were aware of
the American Youth for Democracy's existence at the time and the
role it was playing as the successor to the Young Communist League?
Mr. Robinson. I do not think I would have been aware of that.
Mr. McNamara. The following year, on December 12, 1945, on the
occasion of the second anniversary' of the American Youth for De-
mocracy a dinner entitled "Welcome Home, Joe" was held by the
organizat ion. According to the printed program, Rev. James Robin-
son was a sponsor of this dinner. Do you recall that? It was held
at the Hotel Roosevelt in New York City.
Mr. Robinson. I do not think I was a sponsor of that dinner. We
looked at that. By this time I had begun to be aware of it. Looking
at that document, 1 would have to say that I might have let my name
be used, I think.
Mr. McNamara. Did you, by any chance, know the Reverend Wil-
liam Howard Melish who was listed as one of the co-chairmen of the
Mr. Robinson. Yes, I knew him.
Mr. jMcNamailv. And you have indicated you knew Rev. Jack R.
McMichael, another co-chairman?
Mr. Robinson. Yes.
Mr. McNamara. Do you recall whether or not they might have
approached you. or do you think it is a possibility, if you have no
recollection of this dinner, that they might have used your name
without your permission ?
Could you state an opinion on that matter ?
_Mr. RoRTNSON. I do not know if they used my name without per-
mission, but if I was asked at all it would have been more likely by Jack
McMichael. I did not have that kind of relationship with William
Howard Melish. I saw him at a number of meetings, religious af-
fairs, and Protestant council meetings, but that is all.
Mr. IcHORD. Mr. McNamara, before you go on to another exhibit,
it is now 12 :17 and the chairman has a meeting at 12 :30. I would
suggest a recess now and resume at 2 :00 o'clock^
The Chair will declare the meeting in recess until 2 :00 o'clock.
(Whereupon, at 12:17 p.m. Tuesday, May 15, 1964, the subcommit-
tee recessed to reconvene at 2 :00 p.m., the same day.)
AFTERNOON SESSION, TUESDAY, MAY 15, 1964
(The subcommittee reconvened at 2 :00 p.m.,Hon. William M. Tuck,
chairman of tlip snlicommittee, ])residino-).
Mr. Tuck. The subcommittee will come to order. Proceed.
TESTIMONY OF REV. JAIVIES. H. ROBINSON 1957
TESTIMONY OF REV. DR. JAMES H. ROBINSON— Resumed
Mr. McNamaka. Dr. Eobinson, the Daily Worker of August 14,
1949, named the Rev. James H. Robinson as a signer of a Communist
Party nominating petition for Benjamin J. Davis, Jr., who was then
running for the office of City Councihnan for the City of New York
on the Communist Party ticket.
Could you tell me whether or not this Daily Worker report is
Mr. Robinson. I believe that is accurate.
Mr. McNamara. I have here a co^y of the petition in question and
I was wondering if you would be good enough to look at it and tell
us whether or not that is your signature.
Mr. Robinson. I did and that is my signature.
I looked at it this morning with Mr. Appell, before we came in,
and identified that as my signature.
Mr. McNamara. Would you care to make any comment on your
signing of this petition ?
Mr. Robinson. I can say that I had the same position that I had
before. I almost would like to be able to talk off the record on this
point, although I know I cannot ask it. But at that point there was
another man coming up to run for Congress in that district — run for
City Council I mean — who also Avanted to rmi at the same time and
M'ho I was opposed to. I thought the least difficult of the choices
for all of us concerned would be Ben Davis, even though he was
known to be a Communist.
Mr. McNamara. I was just trying to recall. This was August
1949. It is my recollection that the top leaders of the Communist
Party had been indicted under the Smith Act for conspiring to teach
and advocate the overthrow of the United States Government. This
was in 1948, 1 believe, and the trial started in 1949. So I believe Mr.
Davis was under indictment at that time. Do you recall whether
that was so?
jMr. Robinson. I think he was.
Mr. McNamara. And you still felt that he rated your support and
vote in the election, I gather ?
Mr. Robinson. I think he did. I think under wiser judgment now
I would have said, "I will not stand to help either one of them."
Mr. McNamara. Dr. Robinson, in the summer of 1949, the Com-
munist Party staged another one of a series of concerts held in Peeks-
kill, New York, the purpose being to raise funds for the Civil Rights
Congress which has been cited as the Communist Party's legal defense
The 1949 concert featured Paul Robeson and, in the course of the
concert, there was rioting, violence. Large numbers of State Troop-
ers and police were called in to quell it. There was a grand jury
investigation and so forth. Now, the Daily Worker of October 14,
1949, on page two, stated that Paul Robeson, who was then chairman
of the Council on African Affairs, had, in the name of his organization,
sent a letter to President Truman demanding that the Peekskill riots
be made the subject of Federal investigation and prosecution. The
Daily Worker of that date also reported that Rev. James H. Robin-
son was one of the signers of that letter.
1958 TESTIMONY OF REV. JAMES H. ROBINSON
Do you recall giving your assent or signature for this letter? The
Council, by the way, was cited by the Attorney General in 1947 and
by the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee in 1956.
Mr. Robinson. I recall that.
Mr. McNamara. Could you make any observations on the action ?
Mr. EoBiNSON. Well, I was concerned about what I thought was
some injustice and the way that situation was handled in Peekskill
and I was expressing my opinion, then, even though through this medi-
um, about my opposition to it and trying to help find the means to
getting something done positively about the Peekskill situation.
Mr. McNamara. Could you tell us what you felt was wrong, or
what the injustice was, in this situation ?
Mr. Robinson. I think there were a lot of people, as I can recall that
situation at that time, about which there was a good deal of discussion
in our neighborhood and our community about the unfortunate events
that took place there, that there was a good deal of injustice done to
many of the people in that area who had some legitimate grievance.
To be sure, the Communist Party used some of this to their own
ends, but there were a good many people that I thought desei-ved our
Mr. McNamara. Were these the people in Peekskill ? I am wonder-
ing who were the people injured or subjected to injustice in some
form — whether you can recall specifically who they were.
Mr. Robinson. I cannot remember whether they came to the concert
or were the people from the community. My impression was that
many of the people were from the community, and some of the people
who came were unjustly treated.
Mr. McNamara. Do you recall if, at the time you signed this letter,
you were aware that there was a grand jury investigation underway
to determine the cause and responsibility for the riot?
Mr. Robinson. I do not recall that.
Mr. McNamara. Do you recall the results of that grand jury in-
Mr. Robinson. I do not.
Mr. McNamara. Actually, the conclusion was that these riots were
Communist-inspired and instigated. I might also point out for the
record, I believe, that the magazine Commentary^ which is a publica-
tion of the American Jewish Committee, featured a very lengthy
article on the riot, a scholarly work, which drew the same conclusion.
Doctor, who, if you recall, solicited your signature for this letter.
Do you remember that ?
Mr. Robinson. No, I do not remember who did.
Mr. McNamara. Do you recall who it might have been who gave
you these accounts of the injustice and so forth done to the Peekskill
people in the Peekskill area, or to some of those who went up to the
concert from New York City ?
Mr. Robinson. Well, my information on that would have come,
generally, from our own Amsterdam Neivs, maybe the PeopWs Voice,
at that time, and from a good deal of discussion I had with a number
of people. There was a pretty general support in the whole of the
Harlem commimity on this.
Mr. McNamara. My next question. Doctor, concerns an organiza-
tion which has not been officially cited as Communist. However I
TESTIMONl" OF REV. JAMES. H. ROBINSON 1959
■would point out that the sponsors of the organization who have been
identified as Communist Party members include Hugh Bryson, Shirley
Graham, Albert E. Kalm, John Howard Lawson, George Murphy,
Paul Robeson, and Ferdinand E. Smith. Moreover, Dr. W. E. B.
DuBois, the chairman of this group, the African Aid Committee,
openly joined the Communist Party in 1961 and for many years prior
thereto was extremely active in Communist causes — so much so that
in 1948 or 1949, as I recall, he lost his position as research director
But this African Aid Committee was formed in May of 1949, ac-
cording to its literature, and I have here a number of letterheads and
so on, which list the Reverend James H. Robinson of New York City
as a sponsor of the committee.
Do you recollect your sponsorship and, if so, do you recall who it was
who requested it ?
Mr. Robinson. What is the name of the organization again ?
Mr. McNamara. It is the African Aid Committee, located at 23 W.
26th Street, which, as I recall, was the home of Frederick Vanderbilt
Field and was used as the headquarters of quite a few fronts.
Mr. Robinson. I remember signing that. That was in relationship
to doing something for laborers and people, for the freedom movement,
I believe, in Nigeria, certainly in Africa.
Mr. McNamara. When you agreed to serve as a sponsor of the or-
ganization, were you aware of the number of persons identified as
Communist Party members, under oath, who were associated with it?
Mr. Robinson. Some of them I knew. I did not know that Shirley
Graham was at that time, for example, with whom I had a close
association, because she also worked for a while in the NAACP.
Mr. McNamara. Doctor, some years back, in the late 1940's, a dis-
pute arose in Brooklyn, New York, involving the Church of the Holy
Trinity. It centered around the Rev. John Howard Melish and his
son, the Rev. William Howard Melish, and was based on the Com-
munist-front activities of the Rev. William Howard Melish, the son,
his leadership of the National Council of American-Soviet Friendship,
and public statements by Louis Budenz that he knew him as a Com-
munist. A prolonged dispute followed. The vestry voted to oust
the Rev. John Howard Melish as pastor, because he continued to sup-
port his son's activities.
And then his son was voted pastor in his place. Bishop DeWolfe
then appointed a substitute pastor and Rev. William Howard Melish
refused to vacate the church. A very difficult situation was created
and eventually it ended up in the courts, the Supreme Court of the
On January 11, 1951, a motion was filed on behalf of 2,576 clergy-
men petitioning the Supreme Court for leave to file amici curiae, a
brief, in the case. Your name was listed among the clergymen on
whose behalf this motion was presented. Do you recall that event.
Mr. Robinson. I do.
Mr. McNamara. Do you recall who solicited your support for this
Mr. Robinson. It must have been some of those clergymen who
signed it. My position at the time was that this was badly handled.
1960 TESTIMONY OF REV. JAMES H. ROBINSON
although it is certainly not my business to decide how Anglicans handle
their problems internally, by the Anglicans, nor is it their problem
how we solve our problems in the Presbyterian Church, internally.
I felt that was an injustice. I realize now that was not a very
good position to take.
Mr. McNamara. Eventually, as this dispute ended up, the Supreme
Court left standing a lower oourt decision upholding the bishop and,
after 12 years of padlocking and court battles and so forth, the Prot-
estant Episcopal Diocese of Long Island — because of Rev. Melish's
defiance — finally had to just close down the church and declare the
Doctor, what was your reaction at the time to Rev. Melish's activities,
his leadership in the National Council of American-Soviet Friendship,
and other Communist-front activities, and also the public identifica-
tion of him as a Communist ?
Did you feel that despite this, he should be supported?
Mr. Robinson. That is a hard question to answer. I don't think,
in the sense that I was not aware at the time that he had been identified
and established as a Communist, that I would not have supported his
religious right, but in light of more knowledge I would say I would
take a wholly different position today.
Mr. McNamara. On January 14, 1953, the Daily Worker reported
that 1,500 leading Protestant clergymen had joined in sending a letter
to President Truman asking him to save the lives of Ethel and Julius
Rosenberg, who had been convicted of espionage against the United
States on behalf of the Soviet Union, and who were sentenced to death
and actually executed on June 19, 1953.
The Daily Worker of that date listed Rev. James H. Robinson as
one of the signers of this letter.
Mr. Robinson. I signed the letter. I remember that I signed that.
My only purpose was that while it was right to convict them, I thought
the same purpose could be, in accordance with my position against
killing people because of crimes, achieved by keeping them in jail
for life. Of course, I thought they were not innocent and I thought
they committed a heinous or greatly offensive crime.
Mr. McNamara. Do you recall. Dr. Robinson, who approached you
to sign this letter?
Mr. Robinson. Do you have a list there ?
Mr. McNamara. This lists a number of people, not vei-y many, who
did sign the letter.
Mr. Robinson. I know most of these people here who were distin-
guished clergymen, like Robert H. Nicholas, professor emeritus of
Union Seminary, and Paul Scherer of Holy Trinity Lutheran, who
was also there at the time and many others with whom I was intimately
I could not say which of these people I discussed it with. I am
sure that I talked with all of them at one time or another.
Mr. McNamara. Doctor, the Daily Worker of January 13, 1953.
page 8, reported that the National Committee To Defend Negro Leader
ship, at a ceremony held the previous Sunday, had made its first an-
nual citations of Negro men and women who had "fought for democ-
racy and peace in the face of attack," and the article stated that among
those honored was Dr. James A. Robinson, identified as a churchman
TESTIMONY OF REV. JAMES. H. ROBINSON 1961
whose passport was recently demanded by the State Department.
Was this Dr. James A. Robinson you, was that an incorrect middle-
initial, or what happened ?
Mr. RoniNsox. The middle initial is incorrect. When it refers to
one who the State Department asked for his passport, that refers
to me which I should like to say, after 3 months, I got to keep. But
I did not receive a citation. They have never given me a citation. I
do not have it.
Mr. IMcNamara. This article does not name you as one of the per-
sons who showed up to receive the award or to accept the scroll.
And while the National Committee To Defend Negro Leadership has
not been cited as Communist by any Federal agency, we bring this up
only because among those honored by the group on the occasion were
known and identified Communist Party leaders such as Ben Davis,
Pettis Perry, Henry Winston, Benjamin Carruthers, and Coleman
Young, Paul Robeson, and Dr. W. E. B. DuBois. And one of the
speakers was Dr. Herbert Aptheker, generally recognized, I believe,
as one of the leading theoreticians of the Communist Party in this
country, and the editor of Political Affairs.
Do you recall receiving any communication from the group in-
forming you that the award had been voted to you ?
Mr. Robinson. I know something, or I recall knowing something
about this, but deciding in my own mind that I did not want the
award, what I did about it — whether I wrote them or told somebody
at the time that this is not the kind of an award I could accept in that
company, I do not know. I know I did not go to any meetings where
an award was given. At that point I would not have wanted to go.
At that time, I knew where Aptheker, Davis, and Winston stood.
Mr. McNamara. The organization I am about to mention now, Doc-
tor, has not been officially cited as Communist. The committee does
not take the position that it is, and I am bringing it up now only be-
cause of our understanding that you would like to make a statement on
all of your activities that might be controversial or might involve in-
stitutions or organizations accused as leftist and so forth. I have in
mind the Highlander Center in Knoxville, Tennessee. The letter of the
Center, which is a successor to the Highlander Folk School of Mont-
eagle, Tennessee, is dated December 12, 1962, and lists you as a sponsor
of the Center.
Would you tell us what your understanding is of the nature of the
Mr. Robinson. First of all, I helped them in a good many ways in
the raising of funds for the Highlander Folk School, and I think there
was a chap there by the name of Myles Horton, the director of it. My
understanding was that the name was changed when either the local
community or the State of Tennessee tried to keep them from going on
with their work, and this new organization came about as an effort
to keep it alive.
This was during the time and shortly before the first of Martin
Luther King's boycotts in Alabama where a number of people even
before and afterwards came to get some courses in adult e<iucation and
in political activities in terms of how to better the conditions of
1962 TESTIMONY OF REV. JAMES H. ROBINSON
Mr. McNamara. Apparently the Folk School which preceded it be-
came controversial and subject to a certain amount of criticism because,
although those who rmi the Center have never been identified as mem-
bers of the Communist Party, some pretty well-known Communists —
including some top ranking officials of the party — have gone down to
the school, taken part in some of its functions, attended some of its
classes, and so forth.
And I think you can understand why this would make the school
controversial — the support these people have given to it and the fact
that this support has not appeared to have been rejected.
I have one item here from the New York Times of September 14,
1958, page 16, which I would like to bring to your attention. The
article reports an interview held with you following your tour of Afri-
can countries in 1958. The caption of the article reads as follows :
"Reds, Not Nasser, Feared in Africa," and this article makes it quite
clear that you stated in this interview that communism was the greater
threat to the newly independent and emerging nations of Africa.
Would you care to elucidate on some of the comments you made at the
time, following your African trip ?
Mr. Robinson. I made a whole lot of comments at the time. Some
of them were highly critical of the State Department's personnel in
Africa, which I felt was not very good, not very wise. We had no
policy. I made many speeches on that.
We were developing no personnel and we needed to have a wholly
new massive arrangement on how we were going to help these African
countries meet their opportunity, how skillfully we were going to
stand against communism in this area, and how intelligently we were
going to do it.
I wrote considerably about that and that became the basis, of course,
of the development, Operation Crossroads Africa. Although we do
not state this explicitly, our job is to fight communism; our job is to
help people create that kmd of a democratic structure that would
help them to combat it.
Mr. IMcNamara. "Communist infiltration was seen by Rev. Robin-
son as the greater potential threat." It says that is a greater threat
than the activities of President Nasser. Do you think that the experi-
ence you had with Communists in the United States and their decep-
tive operations as evidenced by the record here, probably helped you
in spotting what was going on in Africa ? That is, as far as the activi-
ties directed by Moscow were concerned?
Mr. Robinson. I think the experiences I had here gave me a lot of
insight into methods, techniques and strategy which stood me, first,
in good stead when I was asked to go out to Asia on this project, and
then, secondly, when I got involved in the whole Africa situation.
I have written extensively about it in chapter three of that little book,
Tomorrow Is Today. I stated that we lost a great opportunity to
know a lot about communism in the United States and how it worked,
because we Americans were so ignorant about how Negroes as a whole
rejected communism, beginning in 1932 when the first efforts of Com-
munists were made to win them and get their allegiance, and in 1932
when they took something like 24 to Moscow to do a film.
TESTIMONY OF REV. JAMES. H. ROBINSON 1963
All of them rejected communism and came back on their own money.
We could have learned a great deal if we had paid more attention
to their efforts.
Mr. McNamara. On the basis of your experience, what recommen-
dations would you make today along those very lines ? What can we
learn ? What basic principles do you think we can operate on in com-
bating Communist attempts to win Negroes to their position on vari-
ous matters, or to recruit them into the Communist movement?
Mr. Robinson. Can I broaden it a little bit ?
Mr. McNamara. Surely.
Mr. Robinson. My position is this : First of all, I think that every
student j'outh conference, whether it is YMCA, or one of the church
groups, ought to involve in their summer study programs two things :
First, it ought to have some nonpolitical people to come and talk about
the responsibility of citizens in a democratic society. This is a won-
There will be over 100,000 potential youth leaders in the United
States all across the country, Westminster Foundations, Newman
Clubs and a multitude of groups in summer conferences. They will
have a lot of fun, songs — folk songs, dances, and a lot of religion, but
they will have nothing about labor, nothing about politics and gov-
ernment, nothing about the world we live in, and what are the forces
struggling for the minds of people.
I think in every conference there ought to be somebody who is
an expert., who knows communism and its strate^, to work at the
undergraduate level in these conferences. There is a wonderful op-
portunity to make them aware of the problem, to educate them on
how best to meet it and overcome it.
Now in our preparations for the people who go with us on Cross-
roads, one of the essential things they must do is they have to read
Bas Kapital. We send them some other literature on Communist
strategy and techniques. They are going to face some of these people
and they are going to have to face them not in heat and anger, but with
They are going to be better prepared to deal with these, if they have
done their homework.
Secondly, I think every time there is a Communist youth confer-
ence we ought to find a way of preparing, training, and sending some
people. This is a statement I made that got me in trouble when we
took away the passports of the 41 American youths who went to
Moscow and Peking some years back.
I wasn't against taking the passports. What I was against and
what disturbed me was this was the end of it. Every 2 years there
is going to be such a conference. It seems to me that we ought to
prepare 100 people and find ways of getting them in to work for us
It seems to me that we ought to prepare people and send them to
work from the inside. I came to this conclusion, because when I first
went on that trip abroad for the Presbyterians, I was asked by James
Flint of the American Occupation Office (Religion Section) in Berlin,
to go into Eastern Germany in August of 1951, trading on the fact
1964 TESTIMON^^ OF REV. JAMES H. ROBESTSON
that I had been mistaken by a lot of young people as Paul Robeson,
my name Robinson sounded similar. If they had asked me to sing,
they would have known I was not.
I went up to the Polish border 4 days. I found thousands of young
people who were not any more Communist than I was. And I said
to myself, ""VVliat a tragedy."
I said, "We do not have people here among these thousand of
young people who give our point of view from within," and the reason
I came to that conclusion was that I had a meeting along with a
young fellow who carried a Communist Party card, a German from
East Germany, from the Student Christian Movement.
His name I never used, for a time, because it would have been bad
to isolate him and to have identified him to the "Volks police." We
met with 400 young people in the basement of St. Marion's Church
until four o'clock in the morning. Two days later, 25 young peo])le
who were in that group came over to Jim Flint into West Germany,
defected and decided to leave. Some of them had gotten to the
conference there because somebody had paid their way.
It was the first time they had a chance to go somewhere. It seemed
to me if you prepared and trained a corps of young people skillfully
and put them in a place where they could do some good on the other
side, since they are going to have that conference, and since some
yoimg Americans, misguided or not, are going to go, it is our duty to
make all the capital we can.
Now in terms of the present struggle, as far as civil rights are
concerned, I have just finished a chapter for a new book, which is going
to be published by the United Church of Christ in the fall, called
For a Time of Promise and Anxiety^ on this whole situation, in which
I point out that there are good reasons, sometimes, why people can
logically be civilly disobedient.
But it is the obligation of the person who takes this stand to purge
out of their ranks the kind of people who do not take it for the same
good reasons of conscience and who try to use it to another advantage
or infiltrate the movement for Communist ends.
This is their responsibility to do this. They cannot hide under
the fact that our cause is so good and our situation is so desperate
that we will accept anybody on a brotherhood front movement to
come in and help us.
That will include Malcolm X, the Communists, and a good many
other people with whom I would not agree under these circumstances.
So I think the best thing to do is to prepare the minds of young
people about what communism is and help them to face it.
If it had not been for the experience I had had when I went out to
Asia and the Middle East in 1951 and in 1952 on the Presbyterian
program, I would have not been, I could not have been effective at all,
because I could not have understood in Northern Italy, or in Eastern
Berlin, or among the Communists whom I have met in a great many
places in Asia and especially in India, I could not have understood
a great many things about Communist theory, strategy and methods
and have been effective.
Mr. McNamara. Doctor, I have here some excerpts from your book.
Tomorrow Is Today ^ and you have, as you have indicated, a little
TESTIMONY OF REV. JAMES. H. ROBINSON 1965
section on the subject of communism in this book. I could not help
noticing this sentence :
To understand the enemy you must study his ideas, methods, and techniques.
You have to know where he is and what his intentions are in order to anticipate
his next move and finally defeat him.
This struck me for the simple reason that I happen to know that
this is a major theme in speeches the chairman of this committee has
been makmg lately. He has been stressing over and over the idea
that the beginning of the answer to this problem is the study of com-
mmiism, that we have to know it thoroughly.
And I gather from this, and from other sections of this book, that
you feel there is a great need for this.
Mr. RoBiNSOisr. I think there is a great need.
Mr. McNamara. And you would therefore support, for example,
the courses on communism that have been introduced in various school
systems of late ?
Mr. Robinson. Yes, especially depending on who is giving them.
Mr. McNamara. I agree with you on that. You speak here, too,
of the confusion that exists in America about the nature of commu-
nism. I would just like to quote your book and then ask you for your
ideas as to the best way to end this confusion. Maybe you have other
ideas — in addition to the concept of basic education on the subject.
Our confusion was clearly shown the night Stalin died. Newspapers and radio
commentators went through mental and emotional gymnastics which excited
our imaginations with wild ideas of how Communist strategy might change —
as though a change of strategy implied basic changes in communistic ideology.
If the Soviet leaders could have listened in they would have been gratified
to know how uninformed some of us really were. The truth is that Commu-
nist strategy is directed by members of the Politburo and based on a set of
inflexible dogmas that do not depend upon the Politburo leaders either for their
being or for their survival.
If every member of the Politburo should die tomorrow, the strategy might
shift, change, and jockey for a new position, but the essential aims of the attempt
to remake both man and the world would remain constant.
Apparently this is the basic idea that you felt should be driven home.
Do you have any suggestions to make in addition to that ?
Mr. Robinson. I wish we could do some simple things, help people
to get an understanding and an awareness. We talk with a good deal
of heat and light about communism. A good many people hate it, but
they do not know what it is or how it works, and what its ultimate aims
and hopes are.
I think if there could be some simple things in which you could do
this — I do not have the document any more, but when I was in India I
did some things for Chester Bowles which I sent back through the
consul pouch from Hong Kong, because I could not work on them
until I got there, in which I pointed out in two areas what could be
done to help people relate the United States to the problem of race
which was a big problem and, secondly, how American personnel going
out to Asia or to Africa ought to be briefed and prepared in terms of
what Communist strategy is.
I thought some simple documents that could be put in the hands of
everyone going out — I did one of these. I did a little book, as a result
of that, and Donald Stone, now at the University of Pittsburgh, who
1966 TESTIMONY OF REV. JAMES H. ROBINSON
used to be head of the Mutual Security Agency, asked me to do, which
was called. Love of This Land. This book pointed out what progress
there had been in race relations, for use of American personnel in
Government going out to Asia where there was a burning question,
so they could give some constructive, positive answers.
Because I did not find many people in 1951 or 1952 who could do
more than be angry or sensitive, my great strength was I could take
these questions from thousands of Indian young people who raised
questions, and I could put them in a constructive backgromid by know-
ing some of the things that we had done, not saying that we were not
guilty, that we were perfect, because that is the wrong thing to do.
You have to make people believe you are honest, first. Then you can
get them beyond being just negative on things they know about the
But I felt that everybody going abroad ought to be knowledgeable
about communism, how it works, what the strategies are. For example,
in India we had some people go out on leadership grants for the
United States who fell right into all the traps of the Communists,
which you always face any time you talk to a group of students or
laborers, because a small group of Communists would be in the meeting
and they would get the floor before anybody else got it, and pretty
soon you would be pushed into a corner or on the defensive.
That is, if you did not know what was happening. It took me some
time and many defeats, to know what was happening. You had to
know how to answer them from the dialect of Marx ideology rather
than getting angry or excited about it, and then move that meeting on
to some other people there who wanted to get the floor. But you could
not offend them, because, after all, they belonged to the country even
though they might be Communists. Aji error of tactic here could lose
you the whole audience. You have to know how to keep an audience
and how to bring it to your point of view.
In Tokyo, Japan, at the university, two Communists got on both
sides, one on one side of the room and one on the other side of the
room. By that time I could pretty well tell the Communists by the
areas of the room from which the applause came. I knew who was
who and what their methods and techniques were, but nobody had
helped prepare me for this, and most of the American people in Gov-
ernment, mission work and business I saw out in Asia at the time had
not been prepared for this.
Sometimes an educated and important man like Saunders Redding,
at the time, of the Hampton College faculty, whom State had sent
out — came back from India saying, "All the Indian students are Com-
munists." You would have to separate who is a Communist and who
acts like a Communist, because it is nice to make someone from the
United States feel like the rear end of a mule going north. These
students toyed with him. The main fact is he gave up trying to fight
the real Communist by oversimplification.
We give great attention to this whole area in Crossroads when our
people meet at Douglas College for Women at Rutgers for 7 days for
their final preparation. We indicate what types of groups in the vari-
ous countries of Africa might be leftwing or Communist and how
they can answer them effectively and how they are going to avoid being
pushed mto a corner.
TESTIMONl' OF REV. JAMES. H. ROBINSON 1967
And we do the same thing on race relations for our groups going out.
Of coui-se, they start a long time before this. We give them material
to road as soon as our screening conmiittee has selected them, and we
try to get our selection done by the end of February, or before. Thus,
they have 4 to 5 months of reading and other preparation.
That is, so we can put them on a reading course. Then, we have a
number of conferences. We have one at each of 12 colleges and uni-
versities, spaced around the Nation, to each of which delegates from
20 to 30 colleges come.
We spend the whole day with the kind of problems they were going
to face, what they should be reading, set up some potential situations
that they might face, and help them to work out some of the answers,
because they are going to be challenged all along the line, and espe-
cially by the leftwing students or the Communists.
This is going to be more of a problem in the years to come, because
the great wave of African students who have gone to [East] Germany
or Moscow or Peking or Poland is just now this summer beginning to
come back in any significant numbers. In 4 to 5 years that wave
will reach its peak.
So we are trying to prepare our young people and our leaders, too,
in what they can do to win an audience and get people to go along
with them and see their view rather than just winnmg a battle.
Mr. McNamara. Doctor, are you aware of the Freedom Academy
bills which are presently pending before this committee, and on which
we have held a number of days of hearings and are planning some
Mr. Robinson. I am not familiar with the bill.
Mr. McNamara. Basically, the Freedom Academy would be the
kind of institution you have in mind, I believe, when you say that our
Government personnel who serve overseas, no matter what agency
they are connected with, and private individuals who are going over-
seas in the interest of the United States, to fight totalitarianism of one
kind or another, are in unfortunate positions in that they do not know
the strategy, tactics, tricks, and so forth of the enemy.
The Freedom Academy would be set up to teach them these things.
It will be open to Government officials, private citizens, and also to
Mr. Robinson. I would be wholeheartedly in favor of something
Mr. McNamara. Earlier in your testimony. Doctor, you did men-
tion Dr. Harry F. Ward as having been, I believe, one of your teachers
when you were at Union Theological Seminary, and as a man who did
approach you back in the late 1930's and ask you to support certain
organizations, which it later developed were Communist-controlled.
There has been quite a bit said and even written about Dr. Ward
and his influence on his students. I was wondering if you could assess
approximately to what extent he might have influenced you to take
part in some of the activities that you did after completing your
Mr. Robinson. I have written a little bit about this in another book
called. Road Without Turning^ which I certainly hope I can get 6
months off to do the second half of, someday. It is my life up to 1948.
1968 TESTIMONY OF REV. JAMES H. ROBINSON
I would like to do it from 1948 to now, which has been the most pro-
In this, I detailed some of the problems I had and hostilities I had
growing up as a boy in Tennessee and in Youngstown and in the im-
poverished section of Cleveland, feeling a lack of acceptance on the
part of white people generally, with the exception of a woman by the
name of F. Lorraine Miller in Tonowanda, N.Y., whom I did not see
until 5 years after I had graduated, but who made my education pos-
sible, which I wanted desperately to get.
My father took me out of school seven times, because, he said, "You
are a Negro. You cannot go anywhere." I had to sneak and go to
high school and to sneak and go to the first year of college in Cleve-
land, Ohio, where I went to the day school.
Harry Ward, after Lincoln University, where I finally got with the
help of F. Lorraine Miller, when I got to Union Seminary, was the
person who accepted me easier and quicker than anyone else.
There were some professors who said that Negroes were incapable,
but we ought to let them in the school because they are going to go
into the ministry. I remember one professor who gave every Negro a
"B" whether he earned it or not, because he thought it was charitable.
I did not like that. I wanted to get what I earned. I would say
that Reinhold Niebuhr agreed with me also, only his ideas were so
ethnological I did not know what he was talking about. Harry Ward
was simple, down to earth, and he accepted me.
He was then involved in the League Against War and Fascism. I
remember the first time he asked me to come to a rally in Madison
Square Garden. I was concerned with peace and a better deal for all
people. He had a powerful impact on me and a large number of other
You have to realize that at that period Union Seminary was going
through its own revolution in terms of the whole idea of the social
involvement of the minister. There was a real revolt on the part of
students against many of the people on the faculty, led by Harry F.
I would say that he had a powerful impact upon my life for about
the next 7 or 8 years after that.
Mr. Tuck. Any other questions ?
Mr. McNamara. I have no further questions.
INIr. Tuck. Do you have any other explanation, statements, or in-
formation you wish to give the committee ?
Mr. Robinson. I do not have any more information on this whole
business of Communist activity. The only statement I would like to
make, if I may, is to say, first of all, I appreciate this committee's giv-
ing me the hearing. I do not know how the other correspondence got
lost. I wrote many times, including letters to President Eisenhower,
to help me get a liearing, because 1 have nothing to hide.
So I appreciate the committee.
Mr. Tuck. Thank you. We are glad to have you here.
Mr. Robinson. Then I would like to admit very frankly that I sup-
pose with age and other experiences you get some wisdom. When I
was growing up, I would certainly say that I did not have a lot of
wisdom. I had a lot of energy and basic concerns about a lot of vital
TESTIMONY OF REV. JAMES. H. ROBINSON 1969
I have never wanted nor desired to be a Communist. Nobody ever
asked me explicitly to join the Commimist Party, but I think they
would have been happy if I had joined the Communist Party. I am
sure Ben Davis and some others would have been.
I know some, not a great many, who have joined the party. During
all this time, though it has no real germane place in this record, when
1 was doing these things, I also built a camp for underprivileged chil-
dren in New Hampshire, getting 20,000 students from New England
colleges to come and work with me on their vacation periods and dur-
ing their weekends, to be involved in this, and the co-op store.
I was chairman of the Committee for the Integration of Negro Med-
ical Personnel in the Voluntary Hospitals of New York, and I served
during the war years, during 1943 and 1944 through 1945, making a
lot of lectures to Army personnel in Fort Slocum, Fort Dix and Fort
Devens and some other places, and lecturing for the Staff and Com-
mand College of the Air Force down in Montgomery on what we ought
to be doing and how we should be developing Army personnel to be as
concerned about some of these problems and especially communism.
INIost of this was from 1943 on to the present.
I would like to call to your attention that the best letter I have ever
received comes from the Superintendent of the West Point Military
Academy, who sees to it that we get three cadets each year, who get
permission from the Department of Defense to leave the country to
go into Operation Crossroads Africa every summer on the basis that
the Army is going to need personnel in all of these countries as mili-
tary attaches who do not know just military tactics, but have some
feeling and knowledge of Africa.
The Air Force Academy wants to do it, but their problem is they
start their classes too early, some time the first part of August. We
tried the Navy, but we did not get them interested in it, at least, at
Finally, one reason I wanted to get a hearing with the committee
v/as that unfortunately this record, unevaluated, comes up to a lot
of people, and it stands in the way of what I am trying to do in the
terms of Operation Crossroads Africa.
Because, when j^ou go to a big industry or to a big fomidation they
want to know about a lot of things like this. And if they get an un-
evaluated record, which I have liad to stand up against at over a
dozen universities through the years, and at many other places, and
I have also stayed by until they understood my point of view, then it
means I cannot do as much work as I would like or get as many people,
because as a non-Government group we depend on private support to
I do not know what you will say or how this will come out, but I just
wanted you to hear my point of view and see where I have stood and
what I have done in the service of this country, which is the position
I took when they asked for my passport.
I admit I refused to send it. I sent a statement where I was going
to be every day for 3 months, if they wanted me, because I had used
my passport to do things for my country in the Philippines with Mag-
saysay, m Hong Kong with our consul general there, and in Western
Germany, and out of that experience I was able to do many other
1970 TESTIMONY OF REV. JAMES H. ROBINSON
valuable things for the Nation. Anyway, I answered all their ques-
tions and. notarized my replies under oath, and sent them in.
Fortunately, after 2 months, they wrote me and said they were satis-
fied with my answers and so on, and that I could keep my passport ;
but for the last 12 years I tried to get a hearing. I appreciate your
having me. I also appreciate your courtes}^. I never believed what
people always said — and this is not sugarcoating it for you — how harsh
this committee was. I can understand some of the problems it has
with witnesses who do not want to answer questions, or who have the
fifth amendment to liide behind.
I guess it is not hiding behind. They are entitled to it, I suppose.
I did not see where I needed to take it at any point. I would just
like for more people to see and to know, who have a chance to come
on the record, what I am like, where I stand, what my ideas are, and
what kind of service I can give to this country in this hour of its great-
est ideological confrontation, particularly in the African Continent
which is the great interest I have, and which I think is going to have
an awful lot to do with our security, because it is the last great bastion
of mineral resources.
The population of Africa will double in 25 years, and that will be
a powerful nmnber to have on anyone's side.
Mr. Tuck. We thank you. Do you have any questions ?
Mr. IcHORD. Doctor, I did not catch where you took your doctorate.
Mr. Robinson. I do not have, sir, an earned doctorate. I have 7
Mr. IcHORD. Did you take a master's ?
Mr. Robinson. No. I graduated from Lincoln University and
Mr. IcHORD. Lincoln University, where?
Mr. Robinson. Pennsylvania, not Missouri.
Mr. IcHORD. We have a Lincoln University in Jefferson City.
Mr. Robinson. I know; I have been out there to speak.
Mr. IcHORD. I was very interested, Doctor, in your statement that
no member of the Communist Party had ever solicited you to join
the Communist Party. This, I thought, was a little remarkable in
view of the fact that you had associated with them quite freely in
various causes and on a social basis.
You state that no one ever asked you to join. Did you ever attend
a Communist meeting?
Mr. Robinson. I never attended a Communist meeting of a Com-
munist Party cell or a Communist meeting per se. I attended the
meetings where I knew there were Communists for other causes and
other reasons, where there was something I was involved in, and I was
invited to, as this record shows here.
I think one reason they never asked me was because they were never
quite sure of me as to where I stood. I am sure they would have liked
to have me join.
Mr. IcHORD. Certainly you probably had many philosophical argu-
ments with them. I suppose your being a minister, none of them who
were atheists would discuss atheism with you.
Mr. Robinson. No, they were much too clever to do that, because
what they wanted was the support of ministers on particular things,
and that would have been an isolation. As I indicated in a chapter
TESTIMONY' OF REV. JAMES. H. ROBINSON 1971
of my book Tomorrow Is Today ^ they never took a position against
the Negro church as such. They talked about religion being pie in the
sky and all this business, and the stupidity of it, but they never took a
position, even in the little pamphlet they put out a long time ago.
Survival in the Blaek Belt, or something like that title, but even
in this pamphlet they did not take pot shots or a difficult position
against the Negro clergymen, because I think they recog-nized, first,
if you are going to get anywhere among Negroes, always you had to
use him, you had to know him, or you had to have his good will or his
support, which was the same thing that the NAACP and everybody
else did, as a matter of fact, that the Negro clergyman, although he
was an uneducated man, at the same time was the person who had the
ear of the community much more than anybody else did.
Mr. IcHORD. You stated in your testimony that back when you were
associated with Mr. Robeson and Ben Davis and others in several
causes, that at that time you were of the mind that you would join
with a Communist or anyone who was working for the objectives that
you had in mind, and then later on you changed your mind.
I would like for you to elaborate somewhat upon that.
Mr. RoBiNSON". Well, I came to the place where you have to recog-
nize, first of all, that you might do your cause and yourself more
harm, if you joined with people who are better organized than you
are, and better disciplined in a group than you have, and their great
asset is tight discipline.
They know where they are going and what they want to do. They
can play it easy or soft. They can sit in a meeting that everyone
leaves, as long as there is a quorum, and they will get the votes. I
saw this happen many times at first without knowing what was hap-
pening. I learned, but some people never did learn.
I do not think it would be to my advantage, for example, in Opera-
tion Crossroads Africa to let a Black Muslim come into Operation
Crossroads Africa. I must admit one got in from the University of
California at Berkeley, but we put him on a plane from Africa, when
we found out about it, and sent him home.
I would say the same thing about Communists. I would not let
Communists in either. Now, would I let them cooperate with us on
anything? No, I would not take that old position of cooperating any
more. I would not get involved with people with ulterior motives
who really end up trying to use you to make capital for their ends.
Mr. IcHORD. "VVhat do you think motivates the majority of the
people's activity in the Communist Party in America, from your own
observations of those you have come into contact with ?
Mr. Robinson. This is, of course, not scientific psychology.
Mr. IcHORD. I imderstand you would have to look at every side, I
Mr. Robinson. I think there are a good many people who do not
like anybody or anything, who are unhappy, dislocated personalities.
This ^ives them a feeling of importance and of power when they join
a dissident movement. I think that this is a very strong thing in the
minds of a good many people who take the Communist ideological
1972 TESTIMONY OF REV. JAMES H. ROBINSON
Now in Russia or some other place there may be different reasons.
But I think in tliis country that is so. As I look back on some of
these people in those days who were on these committees, who were
against everything and everybody, they were happiest, I feel, when
everybody else was tearing their hair out, if I can put it that way.
There are some who take it, of course, because they want to be at the
If they can get in control, they will be in the strongest group. That
is, a strong group that makes all the decisions for eveiybody else.
And I think this plays a pretty important role in the minds of many
people who become Communists.
Mr. IcHORD. Do you feel that a Negro in the Peace Corps working
in Africa will generally be more effective because of the acceptance
in Africa ? You inferred that, I thought, from your statement.
Mr. Robinson. IMay I go into that a little bit ?
Mr. IcHORD. Yes.
Mr. Robinson. I feel strongly about that problem. I do not think
we have felt in the United States the tremendous importance of the
American Negro in our whole image abroad and their effectiveness
among our personnel abroad, not just Africa itself. I feel it particu-
larly in Africa.
I know, for example, it has to be the right kind of Negro. There
are Negroes who want to run away from the problem. But ordinarily
the good, strong, solid, well-selected Negro persons in Crossroads
Africa get a better start, can go farther and make a greater impact
for us. If we do not have two or three Negroes in a group of 15 young
people, we have problems in that countiy.
Mr. IcHORD. How do those problems arise ?
Mr. Robinson. Those problems arise, because they say, first of all,
"Don't you want more Negroes to come ? Who stops them from com-
ing? Don't they want to come? Do you select young people from
those schools where Negroes are not admitted ?"
In other words, they accuse me, if you will, of not wanting Negroes
to come, because they say this has been a part of your State Depart-
ment policy for a long time in the lack of the use of Negro Govern-
ment personnel abroad. The truth of the matter is that we do not
have enough Negroes because of financial reasons and they think there
is some ulterior reason.
What they do not realize is that there are few Negroes who can raise
$1,000. There are still fewer Negro youths that can do that and get
back to school since if they go with us, they cannot work that summer.
That is why we have to raise more money for minority people.
One thing we have to say to Negroes is, "Your big problem is do not
let yourself get isolated, because the Africans are going to gravitate
to you right off. They are going to give you most of the invitations
and most of the presents. If you get these invitations you say 'Can I
bring Susie or Joe,' and you share the good fortune of your
For example, we have to send a Negro to head up our group in
Mali. It is to the advantage of our whole image, with their sensitivity,
that we have a French speaking Negro who can head up our group m
Mali this year. That gives us a long lead.
TESTIMONY OF REV. JAMES. H. ROBINSON 1973
So there are some places where this is a very significant thing and
we can make excellent use of Negroes, Now when we bring people
here on leadership grants, time after time they call up and they say,
"We would like to see Harlem" or "We would like to meet some
Negroes," and it always bothered me that quite often the people in
charge of them felt that we had to shield them from this.
We are bringing over 10 African students in conjunction with the
State Department on a revei'se flow program, who are potential youth
leaders. We are going to involve them with youth leadership groups
in this country, in Pennsylvania, out in the Rockies, up in Chicago,
with young labor leaders, and Jmiior Chamber of Commerce people in
Pittsburgh and here in Washington with Government leaders.
We are going to take them to Atlanta. We think they ought to go.
If we do not take them, they will say, "You are hiding your race
problem from us." We know there are enough people, Negi'o and
white, in Atlanta to help them get an objective understanding of it.
It is better to do this than leave them on a limb and have the left-
wingers from Iron Curtain countries say, "They did not let you see
the problem. They have something to hide." And then what they
will get is an exaggerated side of the problem.
I think we ought to do a good deal more than that. That is what
I have been talking to State about yesterday, about how we can do
Mr. IcHORD. I yield to Mr. Schadeberg.
Mr. Schadeberg. I have no questions.
Mr. Tuck. We have no further business before the subcommittee?
Mr. McNamara. There is no further business.
Mr. Tuck. We thank you very much for your statement.
The subcommittee will stand adjourned.
(Whereupon, at 3 :10 p.m. Tuesday, May 5, 1964, the subcommittee
adjourned, subject to the call of the Chair.)
Alter, Victor 1942
Aptheker, Herbert 1961
Begun. Isadore 1953
Blauvelt, Mildred (alias Mildred Brandt; Sylvia Vogel) 1953
Bowles, Chester 1965
Browder, Earl (aliases : Dixon ; Ward ; George Morris) 1950, 1951
Brown, Earl 1954
Bryson, Hugh 1959
Budenz. Louis Francis 1959
Burrows, George A 1951, 1952
Carruthers, Benjamin 1961
Clark, Tom 1926
Clement, Rufus (E.) 1944
Davis, Benjamin J., Jr 1928, 1951, 1953-1955, 1957, 1961, 1969, 1971
Davis, John P 1952
Dewey (Thomas E.) 1951
DuBois, W. E. B 1959,1961
Eisenhower (Dwight D.) 1968
Erlich, Henryk 1942
Field, Frederick Vanderbilt 1959
Flint, James (Jim) 1963,1964
Graham, Shirley (Mrs. W. E. B. Du Bois) 1959
Harkavy, Minna 1953
Hitler (Adolf) 1935, 1938-1940, 1943, 1950
Horton, Myles 1961
Johnson (Lyndon) 1931
Jones, John Paul 1947
Kahn, Albert E 1959
King, Martin Luther 1961
Kom, Mrs. William S 1943
Lawson, John Howard 1959
Leslie, Kenneth 1940, 1941,1944
Magsaysay (Ramon) 1969
Mais, Wilfred 1930
Malcohn X 1927, 1964
McConnell, Francis 1944
McMichael, Jack R. (Richard) 1947,1948,1956
Melish, John Howard 1959
Melish, William Howard 1956, 1959, 1960
Miller, F. Lorraine 1968
Murphy, George 1938, 1959
Nasser (Gamal Abdel) 1962
Nicholas, Robert H 1960
Niebuhr, Reinhold 1968
Nielson, WilUam 1944
Perry, Pettis 1961
Pickens, William 1947
PoweU (Adam Clayton) 1954
Randolph, A. Philip 1952
Redding, Saunders 1966
Robesen, Paul 1928, 1939. 1957, 1959, 1961, 1964, 1971
Robinson, James H 1925-1929, 1930-1973 (testimony)
Roosevelt, (Anna) Eleanor (Mrs. Franklin Delano Roosevelt) 1938
Rosenberg, Ethel (Mrs. Julius Rosenberg; nee Greenglass) 1960
Rosenberg. Julius 1960
Russell, Bertrand 1945
Scherer, Paul 1960
Shipler, Guy Emery 1947
Shriver, Sargent 1933
Sibley, Norman 1947
Smith, Ferdinand C 1939, 1943, 1955, 1959
Stalin (Josef) 1935,1950, 1965
Stone, Donald 1926, 1965
Tour6 (Sekou) 1933
Truman (Harry S.) 1957,1960
Ward, Harry F 1936, 1937, 1947, 1967, 1968
Weber, Charles 1944
Weltfish. Gene 1943
Wilkerson. Doxey A 1939
Winston, Henry 1961
Wise, Stephen S 1943
Young, Coleman 1961
African Academy of Art and Research 1926, 1938
African Aid Committee 1959
All Souls Church (N.Y.) 1953
America First Committee 1937
American Committee for Democracy and Intellectual Freedom 1944, 1945
American Committee To Save Refugees 1943, 1944
American Jewish Committee 1958
American Labor Party 1941
New York State:
County committee 1941
American League Against War and Fascism 1936, 19(58
American Peace Mobilization 1936, 1937, 1939
American Student Union 1948, 1949
American Youth Congress 1947, 1948, 1955
American Youth for Democracy (AYD) 1955, 1956
Atlanta University (Atlanta, Ga.) 1944
Brooklyn College (New York) 1949
Church of the Holy Trinity 1959
Citizens' Committee of the Upper West Side (New York City) 1942
Citizens' Committee To Free Earl Browder 1949, 1950
Civil Rights Congress 1957
Columbia University (New York, N.Y.) 1949
Committee for the Integration of Negro Medical Personnel in the Volun-
tary Hospitals of New York 1969
Committee To Defend America by Keeping Out of War 1936
Communist Party of the United States of America :
States and Territories :
New York State 1953
New York City Area :
Kings County :
Eleventh Assembly District Club 1952, 1953
New York County (Manhattan) :
Ninth Assembly District Club 1953
Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) 1952
Council on African Affairs 1926, 1938, 1957
Emergency Peace Mobilization 1935, 1936, 1937, 1939
Forums for Victory 1926, 1953
Highlander Center (Knoxville, Tenn. ; see also Highlander Folk
School) 1961, 1962
Highlander Folk School (Monteagle, Tenn.; see also Highlander Cen-
Howard University (Washington, D.C.) 1939
International Workers Order 1934
Jewish Theological Seminary (New York City) 1942
Lincoln University (Lincoln University, Pa.) 1930,1968, 1970
Maritime Union of America, National 1955
Ministers Committee to Elect Benjamin J. Davis 1954
Morningside Community Center 1931, 1935
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) 1930,
1935, 1936. 1938, 1947, 1948, 1952, 1959, 1971
National Committee To Defend Negro Leadership 1960, 1961
National Council of American-Soviet Friendship 1959, 1960
National Federation for Constitutional Liberties 1947, 1950, 1951
National Negro Congress 1951, 1952
New York City Board of Education 1945
New York Conference for Inalienable Rights 1946
Operation Crossroads Africa, Inc 1925,
1927, 1928, 1930-1933, 1962, 1966, 1969, 1971, 1972
Presbyterian Church 1928, 1948, 1960
Presbyterian Church of the Master (New York City) 1925, 1926,
1935, 1938, 1939, 1950-1952
Student Christian Movement 1948
Student Christian Movement (East Germany) 1964
Transport Workers Union of America 1934
Union Theological Seminary (New York City)__ 1930, 1936, 1942, 1944, 1967, 1968
United Front Against Fascism 1935
United Jewish Women 1940
U.S. Government :
Army, Department of the :
Office for Occupied Areas (Religion Section) 1963
Mutual Security Agency 1926, 1966
Peace Corps 1932, 1933, 1972
National Advisory Council 1925, 1931
State Department 1962
Subversive Activities Control Board 1951
United Youth Committee Against Lynching 1934
United Youth Neighborhood Center 1935
University Heights Presbyterian Church 1947
University of California (Berkeley) 1971
University of Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh, Pa.) 1965
West Council Associations 1939
West Harlem Council of Social Agencies 1935
Workers Alliance. ( See Workers Alliance of America. )
Workers Alliance of America 1934
Young Communist League, USA 1934,1935,1955,1956
Amsterdam News 1952, 1958
Capital, Das (Kapital) (book) 1963
Commentary (publication of the American Jewish Committee) 1958
Daily Worker 1934, 1936, 1938, 1942, 1943
Life magazine 1931
Love of Tliis Land (Robinson) 1926,1966
Mission to Moscow (movie) 1942
New York Herald-Tribune 1940
New York Times 1962
People's Voice 1943, 1950, 1952, 1958
Political Affairs 1961
Presbyterian Life magazine 1931
Protestant (see also Protestant Digest) 1940
Protestant Digest (see also Protestant) 1940
Road Without Turning (Robinson) 1967
Survival in the Black Belt (pamphlet) 1971
Tomorrow Is Today (Robinson) 1954,1962,1964,1971
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