House Un-American Activities Committee

October 8, 2010 in 1950s-1960s, Political history

The House Un-American Activities Committee, or (HUAC) is defined by as “an investigative committee of the U.S. House of Representatives. Originally created in 1938 to inquire into subversive activities in the U.S., it was reestablished in 1945 as the Committee on Un-American Activities, renamed in 1969 as the Committee on Internal Security, and abolished in 1975.” This Committee seems to hold a lot of weight during the civil rights movement on arresting and prosecuting activists. In Catherine Fosl’s book on Anne Braden titled Subversive Southerner, the HUAC comes up a number of times. In fact, Anne and her husband were pegged by the Committee as Communists and in 1954 a sedition charge with a result of jailtime.

Fosl writes, “But even at the grassroots level, reformers were no strangers to repression and to being called “communists,” especially in the South, where the Southern Conference faced its most serious assault yet. That may, HUAC issued a report damning the Southern Conference as a “Communist front” advancing not human welfare but the aims of the Communist Party (CP).” [citation needed here!] 

From reading about this Committee it is made apparent that the claims of communism among southern activists is for the most part false. Although there were CP member cells in the South to incite racial violence; was this committee set up just for this purpose, to deface and slander the name of good Americans?

Overall I feel that it is somewhat unclear whether the Committee was truly a way to seek out communist wrongdoers or a platform to just point the finger and cry wolf on people who were stirring the pot, and fighting for what they believe.

Fosl, Catherine. Subversive Southerner: Anne Braden and the Struggle for Racial Justice in the Cold War South. Lexington, KY: University of Kentucky, 2006. Print.

1 response to House Un-American Activities Committee

  1. One man said “when governments oppress one group of people in the name of national interest they are never really working in the nations interest”. Thanks for reminding us of the potential of government to restrict speeh and movement. Hopefully there are no more HUAC type committees around.

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