Herbert Aptheker was born in Brooklyn on 31st July, 1915. When he was 16 he went with his father to Alabama. He was shocked by the operation of the Jim Crow Laws and on his return to New York City he wrote an article for his school newspaper about racial segregation in the south.
Aptheker was educated at Columbia University and after he received a degree in 1936 he worked as an educational worker for the Food and Tobacco Workers Union. He joined the American Communist Party and also served as secretary of the Abolish Peonage Committee. In 1943 he published American Negro Slave Revolts.
Aptheker later admitted: “I studied history to attempt to solve a series of political problems. When I was an undergraduate, I chose history as a discipline that would allow me to look at social movements in the most holistic way… So I went to graduate school to study history not to be a history professor, but to be a professional Communist. That was my thing, and I was a member of the Communist Workers’ Party.”
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