The Guardian October 25,2000


GUS HALL: outstanding commmunist leader

It is with great sadness that we inform readers that Comrade Gus Hall, 
the Chairman Emeritus and former Chairman/General Secretary of the 
Communist Party USA passed away on Friday October 13. He was 90.

Gus Hall was one of the most famous American communists. He led an 
extraordinary life of working class activism and was a participant in 
nearly all of the most important social struggles that transformed America 
in the 20th century.

He came from, and was typical of, an outstanding generation of activists on 
issues of workers' rights, peace, equality, international solidarity and 
socialism.

Like Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, Paul Robeson, William Z Foster, John L Lewis, 
W E B Du Bois, and many other Communist and non-Communist figures he worked 
with, he leaves a deep imprint on America's political life.

Originally from the Minnesota Iron Range, Gus Hall was born into a 
politically active Finnish family. As a young man he worked in the lumber 
camps of the far north.

At 17, he became an organiser for the Young Communist League (YCL). He 
later made his way to Youngstown Ohio where he ran for mayor on the 
Communist Party ticket, under his birth name, Arvo Gus Halberg.

When Hall wanted to get a job in the steel mills, because of blacklisting 
he knew he wouldn't be hired, so he changed it to Gus Hall. The name stuck.

Hall was an organiser for the Steelworkers Organizing Committee (SWOC), a 
founding member of the United Steelworkers of America and a strike leader 
during the "Little Steel Strike" of 1937.

That strike was the final blow against the steel giants vicious, anti-union 
stance. Hall helped to organise over 10,000 steelworkers in the Mahoning 
Valley in Ohio.

Later Gus Hall became an organiser for the Communist Party. A staunch 
fighter against racism and fascism Hall volunteered for the US Navy, when 
World War II broke out, serving as a machinist mate in a machine shop in 
Guam.

He was honourably discharged March 6, 1946. On July 22, 1948, Hall and 11 
other Communist Party leaders were indicted under the Smith Act on false 
charges of "conspiracy to teach and advocate the overthrow of the US 
Government by force and violence."

Many communists and progressives were jailed, blacklisted and hounded by 
the FBI during one of the most undemocratic periods in our country's 
history.

Hall spent eight years in prison for the crime of "thinking". The Supreme 
Court finally struck down the Smith Act as unconstitutional.

After his release Hall continued his activism in the working class, 
democratic, peace and civil rights struggles, making many public speeches 
and media appearances.

Hall was famous around the world as a respected Communist leader and had 
warm relations with many heads of state.

Hall addressed numerous international meetings of Communist and workers' 
parties.

He ran for President four times on the Communist Party ticket, making 
People before Profits a rallying slogan.

An internationally renowned Marxist theoretician, Hall authored many books, 
articles and speeches. Two of his best known books are Working Class 
USA and Racism, the Nation's Most Dangerous Pollutant.

Sam Webb, the National Chair of the Communist Party, said, "Gus Hall will 
be greatly missed by the progressive movements and our Party.

"Through all the turmoil of McCarthyism, the Reagan/Bush years of attacks 
on labour, and the setbacks to socialism, Hall helped our party maintain a 
clear, stable focus in the working class, and the people's movements for 
peace, social justice and socialism."

Hall is survived by his wife Elizabeth, a daughter, a son, two sisters and 
many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

The Communist Party of Australia and The Guardian extend their 
heartfelt condolences to Elizabeth and family and to the membership of the 
CPUSA on their sad loss.

If you would like to send a personal message to the CPUSA, it may be 
sent to:

Lee Dlugin
Vice Chairperson
Communist Party USA
235 W. 23rd St.
New York, NY 10011
Fax: 212-229-1713
e-mail: cpusa@rednet.org

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