Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

10-04-03 |

Posted on 10/04/2003 10:35:07 AM PDT by

FBI vs. John Birch Society on civil rights movement

Re: * Alan Stang's It's Very Simple book -and- * Highlander Folk School controversy, Martin Luther King Jr photo

Control and domination of the civil rights movement by subversive elements is a constant theme in JBS literature during the 1960's. In the June 1965 JBS Bulletin, Robert Welch observed:

"Our task must be simply to make clear that the movement known as 'civil rights' is Communist-plotted, Communist-controlled, and in fact...serves only Communist purposes."

In the November 1965 JBS Bulletin, Mr. Welch strongly recommends Alan Stang's book entitled It's Very Simple: The True Story of Civil Rights, because, in Welch's words...

"It gives the whole picture of the 'civil rights' development, as a part of Communist strategy, more completely and convincingly than anything else available."

Again, in May 1966, Mr. Welch used the JBS Bulletin to praise the Stang book:

"This book, because of its thoroughness, its comprehensive coverage of the whole 'civil rights' story, and its meticulous documentation, is the best single searchlight we have for exposing the 'civil rights' fraud."

In May 1965, the Special Agent in Charge of the Boston FBI Field Office forwarded proof sheets of the Stang book to FBI Headquarters, two months before scheduled publication. An evaluation of the book was prepared for Assistant Director W.C. Sullivan by F.J. Baumgardner:

"It's Very Simple is an attempt to rationalize today's civil rights movement in this country as primarily a communist operation...Practically all his documentation is to public source material and there is no significant information in the book which appears to be new and previously unknown to the Bureau. Stang makes frequent use of literary license and importantly fails to include documentation for key passages (examples appear on pages 101 and 185). An entire chapter (14) is devoted to an attack on civil rights legislation and the book, in general, is critical of all Administration and other efforts aimed at improving the lot of the Negro." [100-106670-1412, May 28, 1965, and 100-106670-1525, June 24, 1965, both F.J. Baumgardner to W.C. Sullivan].

The concluding "Observations" paragraph states:

"The details of the book do not support the strong conclusions reached by the author. We have had available to us all the material which Stang has plus considerable additional data from our investigations and we could not arrive at such conclusions. The impression is received that Stang may have well started with his conclusions and then developed the information and manner of presentation which he hoped would prove his point. This work must be viewed in the light of the author's apparent close connections with Robert Welch and the John Birch Society." [Ibid]

NOTE: At this point it is appropriate to introduce some context about Alan Stang's research habits to supplement the FBI's evaluation:

Alan Stang authored the article appearing in the Birch Society magazine, American Opinion, that resulted in the historic libel lawsuit by Elmer Gertz against Robert Welch, Inc.

After 14 years of litigation and appeals, the JBS paid Mr. Gertz $400,000. However, the JBS (which describes itself as an "educational" organization, "whose only weapon is the truth") didn't consider the litigation result to be of significant "educational" value to share with its members nor did they retract their defamatory comments about Gertz---even though, during the trial, they admitted "falsehoods" were contained in their article.

The trial court judge in that case (Robert A. Sprecher) described Alan Stang as...

"a writer with a known and unreasonable propensity to label persons or organizations as Communist...There was more than enough evidence for the jury to conclude that this article was published with utter disregard for the truth or falsity of the statements contained in the article about Gertz." [Elmer Gertz: Gertz vs. Robert Welch, Inc.: The Story of a Landmark Libel Case; Southern Illinois University Press, 1992, page 206]

In 1965, J. Edgar Hoover described the civil rights movement as "a great and too long neglected cause of human rights" in our country. [FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, Introduction, April 1965].

After warning about radicals who had no genuine interest in advancing civil rights, Hoover observed in a December 1964 speech, that:

"Let me emphasize that the American civil rights movement is not, and has never been dominated by the communists--because the overwhelming majority of civil rights leaders in this country, both Negro and white, have recognized and rejected communism as a menace to the freedoms of all." [J. Edgar Hoover, 12/12/64, Our Heritage of Greatness, pg 7 - Hoover speech before Pennsylvania Society and the Society of Pennsylvania Women; emphasis in original].


The Birch Society and its front-organization TACT (Truth About Civil Turmoil) were responsible for widespread distribution of a postcard showing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. "attending a Communist training school." The school was identified as Highlander Folk School (HFS) in Monteagle, TN.

Alan Stang discusses HFS and the photograph in his book and he describes Highlander as "this Communist school". [It's Very Simple: The True Story of Civil Rights; Western Islands Publishers, 1965, page 114)

The famous photograph of Dr. King at Highlander was taken by Ed Friend. Mr. Friend described himself as "an undercover agent" for the Georgia Commission on Education (GCE).

Ed Friend was hired by the Chairman of the GCE, Governor Marvin Griffin of Georgia. Mr. Griffin was a life-long segregationist and co-founder of the States Rights Council of GA, an organization, like the GCE itself that was devoted to preventing integration in Georgia. Given that background, is it any surprise that Governor Griffin was a welcomed speaker at White Citizens Councils and States Rights Council functions?

Mr. Friend attended a 1957 Labor Day weekend seminar at HFS and took a picture of a group of individuals seated in an auditorium, one of whom was Dr. King.

When the GCE published its pamphlet on Highlander, it described the HFS seminar as being "held to discuss methods and tactics for precipitating racial strife and disturbances."

Subsequently, Ed Friend testified before a Tennessee legislative hearing concerning what he "learned" during his "investigation" of Highlander. The excerpt appearing below, reveals his underlying motivation:

"Q: Mr. Friend, was that a subversive meeting there at that time? A: It was subversive, sir, to the way that I have been taught to live in America. Q: Explain that to the committee. A: I have been taught by southern tradition to keep the races separate. I was taught to go to Sunday school and Church. I was taught to respect the other fellow's habitat...Up here it seems like all of those things weren't even considered. It is the primary motive of this group to tear down the forces that were trying to keep the races separate."


A July 1963 FBI memo summarizes their file on Highlander Folk School:

"Due to the interracial character of the School, it has been the subject of numerous allegations that it represented the headquarters of communism in east Tennessee. An extensive investigation was conducted in 1941 and 1942 as a result of the allegations. These allegations have never been substantiated and much of the information of a subversive derogatory nature concerning this School was later repudiated by the individuals who previously furnished the information...This organization has continuously been involved in the integration movement and as a result charges are being continuously made that it is 'communist'. These charges are based mainly on the opinion of the individuals making the charges that being pro-integration is being pro-communist." [64-7511-286, July 26, 1963, F.J. Baumgardner to W.C. Sullivan].

In 1963, Mississippi Governor Ross Barnett testified before the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee against a proposed public accommodations bill. Governor Barnett raised the issue of Dr. King's attendance at HFS. An FBI memo on the controversy concludes:

"FBI files concerning the HFS show that this school was the subject of a security investigation which was closed in 1943...No information was developed that the school offered courses of instruction on communism nor that the Communist Party ever succeeded in gaining control of the school. Due to its interracial character, however, the HFS has been the subject of numerous past allegations that it represents the headquarters for communism in eastern Tennessee." [July 13, 1963 FBI memo from J.F. Bland to W.C. Sullivan].

TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: birchsociety; civilrights; communism; fbi; highlanderschool; jbs
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-2021-4041-47 next last

1 posted on 10/04/2003 10:35:08 AM PDT by
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

So they over estimated the Communist threat; that is nothing compared to the neoconservatives drumming up fear of cave dwellers.
2 posted on 10/04/2003 10:58:40 AM PDT by JohnGalt ("the constitution as it is, the union as it was")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: All
Donate Here By Secure Server

Or mail checks to

CA 93794
Or you can use
PayPal at

It's on the Breaking News Sidebar

3 posted on 10/04/2003 10:59:10 AM PDT by Support Free Republic (Your support keeps Free Republic going strong!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: JohnGalt
fear of cave dwellers?
4 posted on 10/04/2003 11:00:10 AM PDT by Cacophonous
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Cacophonous
(A loose attempt to relate the Soviet menace to the considerably less impressive AQ threat.)
5 posted on 10/04/2003 11:02:19 AM PDT by JohnGalt ("the constitution as it is, the union as it was")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: JohnGalt
Ah...gotcha...sorry, not quick on the uptake today.
6 posted on 10/04/2003 11:05:26 AM PDT by Cacophonous
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: JohnGalt
Wonder if anyone recognizes the name Hunter Jack Odell?
7 posted on 10/04/2003 11:57:44 AM PDT by Chapita
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: Chapita
I don't recognize the name-- a Red?

8 posted on 10/04/2003 12:01:14 PM PDT by JohnGalt ("the constitution as it is, the union as it was")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

How'd they manage to leave out the fact that the Highlander School was founded by, among others, Don West, the district director for the North Carolina Communist Party?

This according to the FBI Freedom of Information Act:

9 posted on 10/04/2003 12:34:19 PM PDT by wizardoz (All the sweet, green icing rolling down...)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: wizardoz
Also left out is the fact that Hunter Jack was a communist and the Communist Party USA had been instructed by the Communist International to penetrate the NAACP, Democrat Party, and the Catholic Church.
10 posted on 10/04/2003 6:12:38 PM PDT by Chapita
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: Chapita

By penetrate, you mean infiltrate? Or beyond that?

(We can only speculate on their success.)

11 posted on 10/04/2003 6:18:28 PM PDT by logician2u
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: Chapita
Also left out is the fact that Hunter Jack was a communist and the Communist Party USA had been instructed by the Communist International to penetrate the NAACP, Democrat Party, and the Catholic Church.

Well, they've done what they were instructed to do and then some. The Communist Party has penetrated, ejaculated, and impregnated all three.

12 posted on 10/04/2003 6:22:42 PM PDT by wizardoz (Palestinians blow up over the least little thing...)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: JohnGalt
Would these be the same cave dwellers who brought down the World Trade Center?
13 posted on 10/04/2003 6:24:23 PM PDT by BattleFlag
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Chapita
How about the National Council of Churches? Didn't the FBI issue a report around 1975 that it was a front for Soviet Communism?
14 posted on 10/04/2003 9:17:07 PM PDT by Abcdefg
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: wizardoz
Since Communists attached themselves to all sorts of LEGITIMATE organizations, the bottom-line question becomes this:

Was the Communist Party able to control the activities, policies and programs of the Highlander Folk School?

The answer, according to the FBI file on Highlander, is NO!

There is one typographical error and two factual errors in the summary appearing on the FBI webpage that you cited.

The typo is in the name of the Director of HFS which was MYLES HORTON (not Miles Norton)

The factual errors are as follows:

Don West was not the "District Director of the
Communist Party of North Carolina" when he was
associated with HFS.

Horton met Don West in the Fall of 1932 and they
worked together on plans for opening Highlander on
November 1, 1932. By April 1933, West and Horton
had a falling out over staff hiring, student
admissions and use of HFS funds so they dissolved
their partnership. While West was never a member
of the Communist Party, he was a socialist and he was
sympathetic to several Communist causes during the
1930's---during the height of the "united front"
efforts by Communists to build alliances with liberals
and socialists.


As the FBI file makes clear, numerous charges were
made over the years about the supposed pro-Communist
nature of Highlander but those charges were based
upon the premise that being pro-integration was, by
definition, pro-Communist activity. In addition,
Highlander's pro-labor union positions antagonized
many prominent leaders in the Tennessee business

No federal agency ever cited Highlander as
"subversive" and that includes FBI, HUAC, SISS,
the Subversive Activities Control Board, and the
Attorney General's list of Subversive Organizations.

The school ultimately was closed in November 1959
due to violations of its Charter with respect to
accounting practices and allegations that it
illegally stored and sold alcoholic beverages
(a raid had found 30 cases of empty beer bottles
and several bottles of whiskey).
15 posted on 10/04/2003 10:50:12 PM PDT by
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: Chapita; wizardoz
It appears from your message that you are insinuating that the NAACP was successfully "penetrated" by Communists.

You make a mistake that is common among ill-informed persons---namely, you never do the careful research to determine the actual facts of the situation.

Communist infiltration or "penetration" doesn't mean much unless the infiltrators can actually accomplish some objective.

Former FBI Security Informant (and subsequently Birch Society speaker) Julia Brown mentioned in her March 1961 interview in Ebony magazine, that Communist Party officials had boasted that they successfully had infiltrated the Chicago chapter of the NAACP. However, Julia then observed that Roy Wilkins (NAACP Executive Secretary) and local Chicago leaders "moved in and cleaned up the Chapter."

Julia was instructed by Communist Party leaders to "infiltrate" her local Cleveland chapter of the NAACP--which she did! But local NAACP leaders suspected her of being Communist and they removed her from the position of leadership which she had attained within the NAACP.

After Julia surfaced as an FBI informant, she testified about her time as a "Communist infiltrator" of the NAACP:

"I tried to be fair to the NAACP and false to the Communists. I didn't intend to harm the NAACP in any way. I'm 100 percent with the NAACP and I think they are doing a wonderful job and so does the FBI. They are aware that the NAACP is legal and is working in the American way for first-class citizenship for all Americans."

FBI HQ file 100-403529, serial #167 is a May 4, 1961 FBI document which discusses Communist infiltration of the NAACP:

"The NAACP is subject of Bufile 105-18867. No information is disclosed that this group is communist-infiltrated or controlled."
16 posted on 10/04/2003 11:08:43 PM PDT by
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: logician2u; Chapita
Bond blasts Bush, anti-terrorism, & "J. Edgar Ashcroft at NAACP convention (Major barf alert) - "The FBI tried to disrupt the civil rights movement. They wanted to smear Martin Luther King Jr. They not only wanted him discredited, they wanted him dead, threatening him with the release of damaging information if he did not commit suicide. We thought we had put a stop to Hoover's program of spies and lies in the 1970s after its abuses were exposed. Now under the guise of fighting terrorism, the FBI is going back to spying on law-abiding citizens." - Veteran "civil rights" leader Julian Bond

MLK Rally marked by Bush, Ashcroft bashing & absence of US flags; Speaker Praises Mugabe

KING'S “DREAM” BECOMES A NIGHTMARE - Billy Thye of the American Indian Movement said the real terrorist in the world was the U.S. government, while Obi Egbuna of the Pan African Liberation Organization praised black racist Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe and urged the lifting of the economic embargo of communist Cuba. He said, “We must stand behind Mugabe,” whose policies are starving half of his population. On the other hand, he branded U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell “a murderer.”

NAACP to open office, affirm 'kinship' in Cuba

NAACP hit for policy on Cuba

What about Black Cubans' Subjugation, Mr. Robinson?

17 posted on 10/05/2003 1:46:00 AM PDT by Tailgunner Joe
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: wizardoz
Myths of Martin Luther King - King’s sympathy for communism may have contributed to his opposition to the Vietnam War, which he characterized as a racist, imperialistic, and unjust war. King claimed that America "had committed more war crimes than any nation in the world."
18 posted on 10/05/2003 1:51:48 AM PDT by Tailgunner Joe
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: Tailgunner Joe
19 posted on 10/05/2003 1:52:23 AM PDT by nopardons
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

To: Cacophonous
Christian Based Race Relations Versus Marxism Based Civil Rights
20 posted on 10/05/2003 2:01:52 AM PDT by Tailgunner Joe (Affirmative Action is Racial Discrimination)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-2021-4041-47 next last

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson