Perry, Pettis

Perry, Pettis

(1897–1965) Communist; born near Marion, Ala. Son of black sharecroppers, he was a drifter until he joined the Communist Party's International Labor Defense Committee (1932). He moved to New York (1948) to head the party's National Negro Work Commission, was appointed head of the party's Farm Commission (1950), and the same year became a member of the party's leading triumvirate. He was one of 29 Communists out of 141 indicted under the Smith Act (1951) to serve a sentence (1952–55). He ultimately failed in his mission to make the Communist Party attractive to American blacks and was thrust into a leadership role more out of necessity than because of leadership abilities. He died in Moscow where he had gone for medical treatment.
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