Written: For the Communist Party, USA,
campaign for the 1932 United States general election, in which Ford was the
party's candidate for Vice-President of the United States.
Source: Foster-Ford, The Candidates of the Working Youth (Young Communist League, New York City, 1932), pages 19-24.
Transcribed: for marxists.org by Juan Fajardo, November 2023.
James W. Ford was born on December 22, 1893 in Pratt City, Alabama. His father worked for 35 years for the Tennessee Coal, Iron and Railroad Co., as a coal miner. His mother, in order to help feed the family, was employed as a domestic worker.
One event indelibly impressed itself on the memory of young James and aroused at an early age a growing hatred towards the white ruling class. When James was still a youngster, his grandfather who worked as a track walker, was attacked one night, beaten, and burned alive on a pile of cross ties. The false excuse for this lynching as all others, was "familiarity with a white woman".
Ford was forced to go to work at an early age. At thirteen, when most white boys are still going to school, young James got his first job on a railroad track at Enslay, Alabama. From the very beginning he felt the added oppression which is the lot of the Negro toilers of this country. He was also discriminated against because of his youth and given the dirtiest and hardest jobs for the least pay. Today, in order to do away with this discrimination, the Young Communist League and Communist Party fights for: EQUAL PAY FOR EQUAL WORK FOR ALL YOUNG AND ADULT WORKERS, NEGRO OR WHITE!
Young Ford worked as a blacksmith's helper in a steel plant, as a machinist's helper, and also as a laborer at a blast furnace of the Tennessee Coal, Iron and Railroad Co.
Altho a rebel from an early age, young Ford had many illusions which had been consciously developed by the white ruling class. One of these illusions is that the Negro masses must educate themselves and then they will be recognized as equals of the white man. James set his mind on proving that he was not inferior to any white man and decided to study and become educated. He worked his way thru high school in three years. He then attended Fisk University at Nashville, Tennessee, but a few months before graduation enlisted in 1917 in the U. S. Army.
This act of young Ford had as its basis the false promise of the American government, that if America won the war the American Negro would be free and equal, Young Ford wanted to prove in battle that the Negro masses were not cowards but fighters. He wanted to prove, even if he had to give his own life, that the Negro masses deserved equality and freedom.
Ford entered the signal corps service in charge of radio and telegraph communication for the 86th Brigade of the 92nd Division in France. Not many days of service passed before young Ford realized that the policy of Jim-Crowism, of lynch law, also hung over the heads of the Negro soldiers. He witnessed the segregation of Negro troops, their mistreatment and discrimination, He saw Negro youths framed up on charge of rape, when They dared to protest against this discrimination. Ford helped organize protest meetings of the Negro soldiers and soon was recognized as a fighter and leader by the men.
While in the army fighting innocent workers of other lands, Ford began to realize the real character of the war. He saw that this war which had been organized under the slogans of "The war to end war", "The war to save democracy", etc., was actually a war for the interests of Wail Street. Today, when the imperialists all over the world are intensifying their preparations for a new war, and when Japan has already started war against the Chinese masses, Ford and Foster raise as one of the main demands of their platform: AGAINST IMPERIALIST WAR; FOR THE DEFENSE OF THE CHINESE PEOPLE AND THE SOVIET UNION! As a means of doing away with the growing preparations for war, the Young Communist League further puts forth the demand: AGAINST ALL FORMS OF BOSSES MILITARISM!
When the war was over Ford received his discharge from the army. Altho an expert radio operator, he found it impossible to find work due to the fact that he was Negro. He who had fought for "his country", had received a college education, could not find work. Finally, he found a job in a mattress factory in Chicago, working as an unskilled laborer.
After working for a while at this job, he filed application for a job as postal clerk. After a long wait he became a parcel post dispatcher and a member of Postal Workers Union No. 1. As a member of this union he carried on a militant fight against the speed-up system in the post office and against the burocracy of the union officials. He soon won the respect and loyalty of both white and Negro workers. He became a favorite with the men who looked to him for leadership, and elected him as one of their delegates to the Chicago Federation of Labor, Here Ford carried on his fight especially against the policy of many unions to refuse admittance to Negro workers and against all the reactionary policies of the official leadership.
As a youth. Ford was a splendid athlete, excelling especially in baseball. For years he played on the post office baseball team, side by side with white workers who recognized in Ford a class brother and fighter.
Ford was finally fired from the post office due to the fear of the government authorities of the growing unity of the white and Negro workers.
His activity in the post office and his special interest in the struggle for emancipation of his people, the Negro people, soon brought Ford into the ranks of the only Party which champions the cause of all the oppressed people — the Communist Party. This is the Party which openly proclaims on its banner the demand; EQUAL RIGHTS FOR THE NEGROES AND SELF-DETERMINATION FOR THE BLACK BELT! The Communist Party leads the struggle for the freedom of the Scottsboro boys and every struggle for the rights of the Negro people in the Black Belt, where they constitute a majority, to take the land which today belongs to white parasitic landowners, and govern themselves as they see fit.
The Communist Party fights especially against the terror which is directed by the white ruling class against the Negro people. It fights for full political rights for the Negro masses and for the enforcement of the 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution which were supposed to have given the Negroes these rights.
The Communist Party in its platform stands against all capitalist, terror which is directed also against the white workers in the form of arrests, clubbing of workers, use of armed forces against strikers and veterans, deportation of foreign born workers, abolition of the rights of free speech and of the right to organize, etc. The Communist Party stands: AGAINST CAPITALIST TERROR; AGAINST ALL FORMS OF SUPPRESSION OF THE POLITICAL RIGHTS OF THE WORKERS!
The Young Communist League further demands for the youth: THE RIGHT OF ALL OVER 18 YEARS OF AGE TO VOTE, INCLUDING SOLDIERS AND SAILORS! If youth are old enough to work, they are old enough to vote. The government refuses to give the youth the right to vote because it realizes that they are not tied by old tradition and fears their political awakening.
In 1927 Ford was elected a delegate of the Trade Union Educational League to the 4th World Congress of the Red International of Labor Unions in Moscow. At this congress he was elected a member of the Executive Committee. In 1928 he attended the 6th World Congress of the Communist International. During his stay in the Soviet Union, he studied the problems of national minorities in the vast territories of the Soviet Republic. Here he saw the concrete application of the Communist policy of self-determination and full equality for all national minorities. He especially noted the fact that the Jewish people who under the Czar had been oppressed and lynched, today have achieved full equality under Soviet rule. No longer were there any progroms or discrimination of any minorities in the Soviet Union regardless of color.
In 1929, Ford went as a delegate to the World Congress of the League against Imperialism which was held in Hamburg, Germany. In this same year, he was arrested in New York City for leading a demonstration of protest against the shooting of natives in Haiti by U. S. Marines.
Ford at present is a member of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the U. S. A. He is also in charge of the Negro department of the Trade Union Unity League.
James W. Ford, candidate of the Communist Party for Vice-President, has proven by years of struggle for his own people, the Negro nation, and for his own class, the working class, that he is fit to stand side by side with Wm. Z. Foster as standard bearer of the workers and farmers, Negro and white.