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AfriGeneas Military Research Forum Archive

Re: Poems from the Spanish Civil War's Lincoln Bri


James Yates. MISSISSIPPI TO MADRID: Memoir of a Black American in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. Seattle: Open Hand Publishing, Inc., 1989.


[MISSISSIPPI TO MADRID takes the reader from the hot cotton fields of Mississippi to the labor unrest in Chicago and New York during the depression. James Yates's experience with labor protests and union organizing shapes his vision of freedom which culminates in his decision to join the fight in Spain against fascism. Approximately 100 Blacks were among the 3,200 volunteers from the US that made up the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, the first non-Jim Crow military organization in US history. Yates describes Oliver Law, first Black commander of a US military unit; Paul Robeson; Langston Hughes, with whom Yates drove to the front; nurse Salaria Kee O'Reily. Yates makes cogent the connection between fascism and racism.


JAMES YATES was born in Quitman, Mississippi in 1906, the son of sharecroppers. At 16 he fled to Chicago. After graduating from Englewood High School he found work as a dish washer, stockyard worker, and dining car waiter. He helped organize the Dining Car Waiters Union, a major step in Black trade union history. In 1935 Yates raised money for medical supplies for Ethiopia when it was being invaded by Mussolini's troops. In 1937 he joined with volunteers from many countries in the fight to defend the democratically elected government of Spain against Franco's fascist forces. After returning to the US, Yates continued to devote his life to the struggle for freedom. In the 1960's he was president of the Greenwich Village-Chelsea Chapter of the NAACP. Currently he lectures and gives slide presentations about the Spanish Civil War and the Blacks in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade.]

Appendix II lists the names of eighty-three Black volunteer from North America known to have served in the Spanish Civil War.

Eight pages of photos with captions.


Oliver Law's bio:

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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