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“The Reddest of the Blacks”

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For the past several months, I’ve been researching the life of Lovett Fort-Whiteman. Here’s a short film I made about his eventual arrest and death in Stalinist Russia.

Born on December 3 1889, Lovett Fort-Whiteman was one of the most important African-American communists in the 1920s. Dubbed the “Reddest of the Blacks” by Time magazine in 1925, he was an early communist convert as one of the first African Americans to join the American Communist Party, and national organizer of the American Negro Labor Congress and delegate to the Fifth and Sixth Congress of the Communist International.

Lovett Fort-Whiteman is the only known African-American victim of Stalin’s Great Terror. He was convicted for counter-revolutionary activity in July 1938 and sentenced to five years in Sevvostlag in Kolyma.

How did a native of Dallas, Texas and son of a former North Carolina slave wind up a victim of Stalinist violence in Soviet Russia?