Communists and Community

Activism in Detroit's Labor Movement, 1941-1956

Ryan S. Pettengill
Book Cover

PB: $34.95
EAN: 978-1-4399-1905-7
Publication: May 20

HC: $110.50
EAN: 978-1-4399-1904-0
Publication: May 20

Ebook: $34.95
EAN: 978-1-4399-1906-4
Publication: May 20

282 pages
6 x 9
4 tables, 12 figs., 2 maps

Enhances our understanding of the central role Communists played in the advancement of social democracy throughout the mid-twentieth century


Communists and Community seeks to reframe the traditional chronology of the Communist Party in the United States as a means to better understand the change that occurred in community activism in the mid-twentieth century. Ryan Pettengill argues that Popular Front activism continued to flourish throughout the war years and into the postwar period. In Detroit, where there was a critical mass of heavy industry, Communist Party activists mobilized support for civil rights and affordable housing, brought attention to police brutality, sought protection for the foreign-born, and led a movement for world peace.

Communists and Community demonstrates that the Communist Party created a social space where activists became effective advocates for the socioeconomic betterment of a multiracial work force. Pettengill uses Detroit as a case study to examine how communist activists and their sympathizers maintained a community to enhance the quality of life for the city’s working class. He investigates the long-term effects of organized labor’s decision to force communists out of the unions and abandon community-based activism. Communists and Community recounts how leftists helped workers, people of color, and other under-represented groups who became part of the mainstream citizenry in America.

About the Author(s)

Ryan S. Pettengill is a Professor of History at Mountain View College in Dallas, Texas.