Spencer Coxe, former executive director, American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania
In July 1953, nine Philadelphia men were arrested and charged with violating the Smith Act of 1940. At the time, this piece of legislation—which prohibits citizens from advocating the overthrow of the U.S. government by any means—was being used as the basis of Senator Joseph McCarthy’s campaign to expose and punish any behavior that could be construed as subversive or dangerous to the government.
McCarthy particularly took aim against avowed or suspected communists—and the nine men who were arrested that July were leaders of the Communist Party in Philadelphia. Now, for the first time, one of these men reveals the specific circumstances behind the arrests and details the criminal trial which contributed to the beginning of the end of McCarthyism.
About the Author
Sherman Labovitz left the Communist Party in 1957. He became a college professor and established a program in social work at the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey. When he retired in 1994, he was named the college’s first professor emeritus.