‘A Negro in Boston’ by William L. Patterson from the New Masses. Vol. 3 No. 6. October, 1927.

Approving a resolution against the state murder of Sacco and Vanzetti. April 16, 1927.

A young Black lawyer, William L. Patterson, was passionately engaged the Sacco and Vanzetti case which brought him into the Communist Party in 1926 through its American Negro Labor Congress and International Labor Defense, which he would eventually lead. In one of his first articles written for the U.S. Communist press, Patterson shares his experiences of being arrested, one of over 250, on the day the state murdered Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, August 22, 1927.

‘A Negro in Boston’ by William L. Patterson from the New Masses. Vol. 3 No. 6. October, 1927.

For generations Boston Common has remained inviolate, the place where the voice of the people might be heard. But I soon discovered that the traditional right of the people did not include the right of criticism of a government bent on murder. I became one of a small group armed with placards bearing such inscriptions as “Gov. Fuller, is your conscience clear, have you examined the report of your advisory committee?”, “Sacco and Vanzetti must not die!”, “Is Justice dead in Massachusetts?”, “Has the Cradle of Liberty become the arc of tyranny?”. The effect of our appearance on the Common thus armed was instantaneous.

There was little time given us to speculate about our reception. The preparations Boston had been put to, had a use value, and Bostonians were eager to measure its extent. Cheers mingled with boos, curses with words of sympathy, hand claps with cat calls, and then the first delegation of the reception committee, the mounted cossacks, charged down upon our line.

One gently ran his fingers down my back, and lifting me off my feet, tenderly, yet in unmistakable terms of welcome, said, “You are the first n***r anarchist I ever saw. Just think of a n***r bastard a Bolshevik!” The placard was torn from my hands and destroyed, and I was marched to a patrol wagon which had been kept waiting at the Tremont Street entrance of the Common for those of Boston’s visitors who had the temerity to comment upon her dishonor.

There I was greeted by one of my comrades who had also been gathered in by the reception committee. She was assisted into the wagon, then one of our guardians said, “We can’t put the n***r in the Wagon with a white woman, we will let him ride outside.”

And there I rode to the building prepared to receive me, the ante-chamber of the house of Liberty.

The New Masses was the continuation of Workers Monthly which began publishing in 1924 as a merger of the ‘Liberator’, the Trade Union Educational League magazine ‘Labor Herald’, and Friends of Soviet Russia’s monthly ‘Soviet Russia Pictorial’ as an explicitly Communist Party publication, but drawing in a wide range of contributors and sympathizers. In 1927 Workers Monthly ceased and The New Masses began. A major left cultural magazine of the late 1920s and early 1940s, the early editors of The New Masses included Hugo Gellert, John F. Sloan, Max Eastman, Mike Gold, and Joseph Freeman. Writers included William Carlos Williams, Theodore Dreiser, John Dos Passos, Upton Sinclair, Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, Dorothy Parker, Dorothy Day, John Breecher, Langston Hughes, Eugene O’Neill, Rex Stout and Ernest Hemingway. Artists included Hugo Gellert, Stuart Davis, Boardman Robinson, Wanda Gag, William Gropper and Otto Soglow. Over time, the New Masses became narrower politically and the articles more commentary than comment. However, particularly in it first years, New Masses was the epitome of the era’s finest revolutionary cultural and artistic traditions.

PDF of full issue: https://www.marxists.org/history/usa/pubs/new-masses/1927/v03n06-oct-1927-New-Masses.pdf

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s