Scholar Speaks on Obama’s Red Mentor

By: Cliff Kincaid
Accuracy in Media

The black scholar who previously revealed Obama’s personal relationship with Communist Party operative Frank Marshall Davis is now speaking in detail on the record. Professor Gerald Horne says that while the relationship is noteworthy and should have been uncovered by the press, there is no evidence that Davis turned Obama “into some sort of Manchurian candidate.”

However, Professor Paul Kengor’s book about Davis, The Communist, argues that Davis had a significant influence on the formation of Obama’s Marxist views and policies as President.

Horne, who holds the John J. and Rebecca Moores Chair of History and African American Studies at the University of Houston, is a contributor to Communist Party USA publications such as Political Affairs magazine. He spoke at a March 23, 2007, event at New York University’s Tamiment Library to celebrate the donation of Communist Party materials to the library.

It was at that event that Horne, speaking before an audience that included Communist Party leaders, discussed then-Senator Barack Obama’s relationship with a Communist Party figure in Hawaii, Davis, who died in 1987.

The revelation that a U.S. senator preparing to run for president was linked to a high-level official of the Communist Party, a party which had been funded by Moscow and used to infiltrate the U.S. government, seemed like big news. Yet, despite coverage of Horne’s remarks by blogger Trevor Loudon and Accuracy in Media before Obama won his first presidential term in 2008, the major U.S. media ignored the relationship and the matter of whether Davis had influenced Obama’s politics, and even had recruited him to the Marxist cause. It was apparent that the media did not want to publicize anything that might inhibit the election of the first black president in the U.S.

In my interview, Horne said he came across the activities of Davis while researching his book on labor unions in Hawaii, Fighting in Paradise: Labor Unions, Racism and Communists in the Making of Modern Hawaii, 2011.

“So as I was reading about Frank Marshall Davis there was the simultaneous ascension to influence of then-Senator Barack Obama and I read his memoir [Dreams from My Father], where he talks about a character by the name of Frank and I just put two and two together,” Horne told me. “I don’t think it took a great logical leap.” He added, “The press should have uncovered this, not some obscure professor in Houston.”

In that 2007 speech at Tamiment Library, entitled, “Rethinking the History and Future of the Communist Party,” Horne had referred to Davis as “an African-American poet and journalist” who was “certainly in the orbit of the CP—if not a member …” and had become a friend to Barack Obama and his family in Hawaii.

Horne also noted that Obama, in his memoir, spoke “warmly of an older black poet, he identifies simply as ‘Frank’ as being a decisive influence in helping him to find his present identity as an African-American…”

The Horne speech was subsequently published in the Communist Party newspaper People’s World.

New Zealand researcher Trevor Loudon, who has written two books on Marxist influence in the Obama administration and Congress, discovered the Horne speech identifying “Frank” as Frank Marshall Davis and treated the revelation as a significant fact regarding Obama’s presidential run. We confirmed the information in a February 18, 2008, column, “Obama’s Communist Mentor.” Later that year we obtained the 600-page FBI file on Davis, confirming his actual membership in the CPUSA and raising suspicions that Davis was a Soviet espionage agent.

But the major media refused to treat the information as a serious impediment to Obama’s fitness for office. The Obama campaign lied about Davis, portraying him as just a civil rights activist.

I argued in the interview with Horne that the failure of the press to uncover or publicize the evidence of the Obama-Davis connection was the result of liberals or “progressives” thinking that the relationship would hurt Obama’s chances to be president.

Horne said he wasn’t convinced that was the case, at least in terms of how the black community would react, since Davis had a reputation as a noted black literary figure who had been an associate of the prominent black novelist Richard Wright, a former CPUSA member. Horne said membership in the CPUSA did not “carry as much opprobrium” in the black community “as it might carry in other communities.” In addition, he argued, “if you start digging deep in terms of the public and published record about Obama and Davis, you quickly find there’s not much there. I mean we know that Obama mentioned him. We know that Davis was a radical. But we’re not able to make the link that Davis turned Obama into some sort of Manchurian candidate.”

In fact, however, Obama makes at least 22 explicit references to “Frank” in his memoir, talks about how Davis influenced his thinking on race and other matters during eight years in Hawaii, and in a recently discovered 1995 speech promoting his book acknowledged that Davis had “schooled” him on the subject of white racism.

Horne countered, “Some of my friends on the left who are quite hostile to Obama would say that if Davis schooled Obama, he didn’t do a very good job.”

Back in 2007, however, Horne had predicted that Obama, then a somewhat obscure political figure, would go down in history.

Horne said, “At some point in the future, a teacher will add to her syllabus Barack’s memoir and instruct her students to read it alongside Frank Marshall Davis’ equally affecting memoir, ‘Living the Blues’ and when that day comes, I’m sure a future student will not only examine critically the Frankenstein monsters that U.S. imperialism created in order to subdue Communist parties but will also be moved to come to this historic and wonderful archive in order to gain insight on what has befallen this complex and intriguing planet on which we reside.”

The role of Communist parties here and abroad is a favorite subject of Horne, who has written more than 30 books. These books include:

  • Counter-Revolution of 1776: Slave Resistance and the Origins of the United States of America (2014).
  • Black Revolutionary: William Patterson and the Globalization of the African-American Freedom Struggle (2014).
  • From the Barrel of a Gun: The U.S. and the War Against Zimbabwe (2001).
  • The Final Victim of the Blacklist: John Howard Lawson, Dean of the Hollywood Ten (2005).

The Communist Party USA backed Obama for president in 2008, and in 2012 said his re-election was “absolutely essential.”

Current policies and programs of the CPUSA include support for Obamacare, rights for homosexuals, and Pope Francis’ encyclical on climate change.


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