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Love, born in Rhea County, Tennessee, where he was a coal miner at the age of 14, came to New York in 1929, where he worked in the League of Struggle for Negro Rights. "From the time I was a child there was a movement on the part of Black Americans for full recognition of their rights, for full opportunity to advance themselves, and this was gaining momentum year after year," Love said, adding, "When I came to New York in 1929 I found large numbers of Blacks searching for opportunities in art, music and many other fields." Yates and Love both saw the rise of fascism in Europe as a threat to Black Americans. "In 1936," Yates recalled, "Hitler refused to present Jesse Owens the Olympic Gold Medal in Berlin, Germany." (He won four that year.) That very same year, he continued, "Hitler supported Schmelling in his fight against Joe Louis, because he said 'Blacks had no brains'." Two years later Louis beat Schmelling in the first round, becoming the world boxing champion. Love said, "When Hitler came along with his Nuremburg laws, we knew that this meant death to us of the darker races. Anti-fascism had a very wide appeal." The two men recalled that many Afro-Americans "went from drug store to drug store collecting medical supplies in Harlem, and over a ton was collected," when Mussolini invaded Ethiopia in October 1935. When the war in Spain broke out, Love said, "We didn't know too much about the Spaniards, but we knew that they were fighting against fascism, and that fascism is the enemy of all Black aspirations." The Spanish monarchists, ousted in the elections and replaced by a republican government, issued a call to fascists the world over for help in overthrowing the new, democratically-elected government, he recalled. The fascists were led by Francisco Franco. Thus, Love said, Spain was invaded by the fascists of Germany, Portugal, Italy, the foreign legion of Spain and mercenary troops of Africa. This was more than a civil war; it was a fight against an international gangup of fascist forces. "They were making inroads against the poorly organized militia made up of volunteers from the unions and mass organizations. They fought valiantly, but they had no supplies or arms; what they did have were more volunteers waiting for somebody to fall so they could pick up their guns. "This heroic stand against fascism aroused a great deal of sympathy for the Spanish people," he said. "By early 1937, international brigades of anti-fascist volunteers from all over the world arrived in Spain. The Abraham Lincoln Battalion came into action on the southern front, known as Jarama. There the front was stabilized by the combined effort of all the anti-fascist brigades, including the Spaniards, and the fascists were stopped although they won in the end." Love cited the various brigades, which included thousands of anti- 14 [[end page]] [[start page]] fascist volunteer fighters. "There were the Makpaps (the MacKenzie-Papineau Brigade) from Canada, the Ernst Thaelmann Brigade from Germany, the Garibaldi from Italy, the British, the Dombrowski Brigade from Poland and the French, who made up the majority, as well as Africans from Spain's colonies, Palestinians and others," he said. Among the more than 3,200 U. S. volunteers, recalled Yates, were some who traveled 6,000 miles from Los Angeles to fight fascism on Spanish soil. "I'll never forget December 26, 1936, the day after Christmas," said Yates. "Ninety-six Americans sailed from the port of New York, and among those were a number of Blacks. I would have been among the first group had I not been born in the racist state of Mississippi; they didn't give birth certificates to Black people in those days, so I was delayed." Yates was among the more than 300 men who sailed to Spain February 20. He pointed out that there were other Blacks in addition to the 80 - 100 Afro-Americans, but many were of Cuban, Puerto Rican and of other Latin American descent, and they joined the Spanish Army. Yates and Love both fought in front line combat units. "I was sent to work with the Thaelmann Brigade, and became a truck driver for war supplies," said Yates. The majority of those supplies came from the ____________________________________________________ [[image]] "I'll never forget December 26, 1936. Ninety-six Americans sailed from the port of New York. Among those were a number of Blacks. I would have been among the first group had I not been born in the racist state of Mississippi; they didn't give birth certificates to Black people in those days so I was delayed." --James Yates 15
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