1951 August 1

Radio Artists Bar Communists from Membership; ACLU Protests


By referendum, the American Federation of Radio Artists had voted to bar from membership anyone who had been a Communist Party member since 1945. The ACLU on this day protested, writing the union to request that it reconsider the policy. The ACLU letter stated that “We believe that the spirit of American constitutional freedoms is violated by the exclusion or expulsion of persons from membership in ordinary labor unions for political opinions alone.” The radio union policy went even further than just Communist Party membership, barring from membership anyone belonging to an organization listed in the Attorney General’s List of Subversive Organizations or who was labelled a Communist by the FBI, the Justice Department, or the State Department. The policy was one of the most serious blacklists of the Cold War period, barring numerous people from work in their professions.

See December 4, 1947 for the publication of the notorious Attorney General’s list, which had been authorized by President Harry Truman’s Loyalty Program on March 21, 1947. The Hollywood motion picture studios on December 3, 1947 announced their blacklist of Communists or people who did not cooperate with legislative investigative committees (especially HUAC).

Learn more about the Cold War: Ellen Schrecker, Many Are the Crimes: McCarthyism in America (1998)

Read: Samuel Walker, In Defense of American Liberties: A History of the ACLU (1990)

Read the ACLU FBI File (not the complete file): http://vault.fbi.gov/ACLU

Learn about the ACLU today: www.aclu.org

Find a Day

Abortion Rights ACLU african-americans Alice Paul anti-communism Anti-Communist Hysteria Birth Control Brown v. Board of Education Censorship CIA Civil Rights Civil Rights Act of 1964 Cold War Espionage Act FBI First Amendment Fourteenth Amendment freedom of speech Free Speech Gay Rights Hate Speech homosexuality Hoover, J. Edgar HUAC Japanese American Internment King, Dr. Martin Luther Ku Klux Klan Labor Unions Lesbian and Gay Rights Loyalty Oaths McCarthy, Sen. Joe New York Times Obscenity Police Misconduct Same-Sex Marriage Separation of Church and State Sex Discrimination Smith Act Spying Spying on Americans Vietnam War Voting Rights Voting Rights Act of 1965 War on Terror Watergate White House Women's Rights Women's Suffrage World War I World War II Relocation Camps


Tell Us What You Think

We want to hear your comments, criticisms and suggestions!