I appealed to the Emergency Civil Liberties Committee. They took my case up and filed an appeal to theU.S. Supreme Court.“
A Letter from De Boss
All this did not mean that the NAACP national office was short on advice. While they did not feelresponsible enough to take the appeal to higher courts, they did feel responsible enough to send me aletter upon my return from Cuba in the summer of 1960. I subsequently made two trips to Cuba.My experiences in Monroe and with the NAACP which had resulted in launching
werealso sharpening my awareness of the struggles of Negroes in every part of the world, how they weretreated, their victories and their defeats. It was clear from the first days that Afro-Cubans were part of theCuban revolution on a basis of complete equality and my trips confirmed this fact. A Negro, for example,was head of the Cuban armed forces and no one could hide that fact from us here in America. To me thisrevolution was a real thing, not one of those phony South American palace revolutions. There was a realdrive to bring social justice to all the Cubans, including the black ones. Beginning late in 1959 I had begun to run factual articles about Cuba in
, pointing up the racial equality that existedthere. The articles seem to have stirred up the national office for they sent me a letter which includedstatements such as these:“. . . I wonder, however, whether you are fully aware of the dangers and disadvantages of the courseof action you seem to favor. I have followed closely the events in Cuba in recent months and in particular, Dr. Castro’s visit to the United Nations this fall. Regardless of the merits of the Cuban causeI was greatly disturbed by the frequent show of insincerity which, I believe, should give you food for thought before you find yourself used as just another pawn in the present unfortunate feud betweenCuba and our country.“. . . It is a callous interference in a native American problem and should be recognized as such byanyone in a responsible position of leadership in the American Negro movement.“. . . the present Cuban attempts to endear themselves to American Negroes are obviously caused byulterior motives. (Let me just ask you how the American Negro tourist would feel in Cuba at theconstant chant of ‘Cuba si, Yanqui no!’)“. . . Are you willing to forsake the important support of that section of the people who are equallyopposed to suppression of Negro rights in our country?“. . . Does not the unfortunate example of the great American Negro singer Paul Robeson
show youthe dangers and mistakes of the road which you seem to be choosing? What has Paul Robeson with allhis greatness done for the American Negro in his present struggle for equality: The answer, regrettableas it is, must be: Nothing.”These excerpts were reprinted in
and replied to in this way:“Only a fool or a mercenary hypocrite could muster the gall to call a nation and its great leader insincere in dealing with the captive blacks of North America when in the course of their daily lives theydisplay the greatest measure of racial equality and social justice in the world today. It is certainly a firstmagnitude truism that social justice starts at home and spreads abroad. In past months I have twice beento Cuba and there is nothing insincere about my being made to feel that I was a member of the humanrace for the first time in my life. If this is America’s idea of insincerity, then heaven help this nation to become insincere like Fidel Castro and Free Cuba in granting persons of African descent entrance intothe human race.“As for my being ‘used as a pawn in the struggle of Cuba’ against imperialist and racist North
Paul Robeson (1898-1976): an African American actor, professional athlete, international concert singer, and later civil rights activist. Robesontravelled to Soviet Russia and other nations in the 1930s and 1940s, often speaking against segregation and the treatment of blacks in America. Whitepoliticians and officials, including Sen. Joseph McCarthy, sought to limit his activism, and in 1950 the U.S. government revoked his passport, therebyforbidding him to travel outside the U.S. In 1958 the U.S. Supreme Court decided (in
, a case unrelated to Robeson) that the U.S. StateDepartment could not restrict a citizen’s right to travel based on his or her political views. Robeson’s career, however, had been permanently damagedby the campaign against his activism.
National Humanities Center.
Robert F. Williams,
Negroes With Guns
, 1962, Ch. 3-5.3