Viewing page 12 of 33

[[image - group of five men]]

Donawa in the Medical Corps. In all the services of supply and transportation on a thoroughly integrated basis with their white comrades, Negroes served and in some cases commanded. In the XV Brigade a Negro commander of the Lincoln Battalion, Oliver Law, died at the head of his troops during the Brunete offensive.

It is interesting to note that while the progressive forces of America were able to break down to a large degree the discrimination against the white members of the International Brigades, no Negro former International Brigader was able to get a commission. When we returned from Spain eight long years ago, we knew that the war was not over and the period that lay ahead would be difficult. How difficult we couldn't see at the time, but after a short period of continued fascist aggression that finally inflamed the whole world and put us back into uniform, we began to find out.

And even now with the main centers of international fascism destroyed there is still no peace... not only internationally, but here at home. And as is always the pattern in our America, the brunt of the oppression falls on the shoulders of the Negro people. In Columbia, Tennessee we see organized looting and killing, and throughout the South wholesale persecution of returned Negro veterans. But this is not 1918. The lessons learned the hard way will not be lost. And in the forefront of the struggle will be the seasoned fighters, Negro and white, Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade.


[[end page]]
[[start page]]


He was born in Orange, N.J. to a hard-working Indian mother and Black father. Following his mother's death he "ran away" looking for work in Detroit.

In the early thirties he worked in the Chicago stockyard organizing committee where he rubbed shoulders with Poindexter and Claude Lightfoot, Communists, who introduced him to the writings of Marx, Engles, and Lenin. He later joined the Communist Party. In January, 1937 he and four other Chicgoans--two Jewish "kids" and three Blacks--sailed for Spain: among them Morris Tennenbaum, Oliver Law and James Roberson.

He came to Madrid at a time the Hitler-Mussolini-Franco fascists were threatening to capture the city. His truck of 20 riders landed at Figuerys Fort in Spain with 3 rifles between them. Most of the guys just kids out of high school, or college had never fired a shot and besides the guns were needed at the front.

At the end of January they were rushed to the Jarama Front and issued Russian rifles. There he met some other Walter Garland a "big rascal", Douglas Roach and an old Communist Party member whose name he cant recall.

In March of 1937, he was assigned Political Commissar to the Murcia International Hospital.

As the conditions at the front were deteriorating, the International Hospital community from Madrid was evacuated to Catalonia with three trains of wounded taken to Barcelona.

Shortly after, he was repatriated home to Chicago. 


He came from Harvard University, a Black oral surgeon who served with the American Medical Bureau in Spain.

Prior to his leaving for Spain, he was an active worker, organizer and campaigner collecting aid for the Spanish people.

He became the head of Oral Surgery in the Medical Corps, attending to the wounded who were struck in the mouth and face by bullets, grenades and shrapnel. It was he who first acquainted Salaria Kee with events of the time in Spain and influenced her decision to go to Spain as a nurse.

Upon his return to the United States, he continued to care for the teeth and facial wounds of the returned vets until his retirement to the Caribbean--his birthplace--where he subsequently died.

Please note that the language and terminology used in this collection reflects the context and culture of the time of its creation, and may include culturally sensitive information. As an historical document, its contents may be at odds with contemporary views and terminology. The information within this collection does not reflect the views of the Smithsonian Institution, but is available in its original form to facilitate research. For questions or comments regarding sensitive content, access, and use related to this collection, please contact