Lovett Fort-Whiteman, the first Black member of the CP
During research on Harlem’s history, especially from a radical perspective, Lovett H. Fort-Whiteman’s name popped up repeatedly. He seemed to be a major player in several significant political and international organizations. Most notably, he was the first African American to be a member of the Communist Party, USA, and a member who was given key positions and assignments.
Fort-Whiteman was born in 1894 in Dallas, Texas, the son of freed slaves from South Carolina. Very early in adulthood, Lovett adopted his mother’s maiden name and hyphenated it to his surname. Coming of age in Dallas offered him a greater chance to receive better education, which in most places was not available to African American children.
After graduation from high school, Lovett attended Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, where he majored in machinery. He was apparently an exceptional student and upon…