Black Quotidian: Everyday History in African-American Newspapers

May 28, 1955

On May 28, 1955, Rebecca Stiles Dodson wrote a column in the Chicago Defender titled, “Must Claudia Jones Die in Prison for Her Belief?”  Claudia Jones, a political activist, black nationalist, and member of the Communist Party, was in a federal women’s prison in Alderson, West Virginia, after being convicted of “un-American activities” under the Smith Act. “A human being’s life is at stake,” Dodson wrote, noting that Jones was ill. “Negro group leadership is being destroyed. Womanhood is being intimidated and persecuted.” Dodson encouraged Defender readers to write to the parole board to demand Jones’ release.

Sixteen years earlier the Defender reported that “Claudia Jones, lovely 23-year old girl and youth leader, was elected by acclamation chairman of the New York State Young Communist League at the second Empire state convention of the organization.”

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