Revels Cayton:
African American Communist and Labor Activist
 

by Sarah Falconer

              On February 19, 1934, a group of communists involved in the League of Struggle for Negro Rights decided that discrimination toward African Americans and Filipinos in Seattle needed to come to an end. Led by a young, African American man, named Revels Cayton the group entered a Seattle City Council meeting demanding laws that would make discrimination based on race illegal. The group made such a strong case that the Council decided to have a mass meeting to discuss the conditions facing minorities in Seattle . Following the disruption of the Council meeting another group of protestors went to a local bar called the Breakers Beer Parlor where they demanded that the “For Whites Only” sign be removed from the premises. The group chose to forcibly remove the sign from this business, and then went on to remove others in the area.[1]

            Revels Cayton, son of the prominent middle class black leaders Horace and Susie Cayton, and brother of the influential sociologist Horace Cayton, Jr., was one of the leaders of this demonstration, and an active member in the Seattle labor and communist communities. As a key member of the Seattle Communist Party in the early 1930s, Revels always paid close attention to the labor issues on the waterfront, where black workers had been able to fight back white racist unions to get access to important longshore and maritime work. An activist on behalf of minorities and the working class, he worked his way through the ranks of labor union activities. As a strong proponent of unions, Revels had a distinguished activist career in the 1930s and 1940s: he served in  the head office of the Marine Cooks and Stewards Union in San Francisco during the 1934 general strike; and would eventually serve as Secretary of the Maritime Federation of the Pacific; Vice President of California State Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO); chairman of the California CIO’s minorities committee; a member of the Los Angeles Committee for Home Front Unity that oversaw the city’s response to the 1943 “Zoot Suit riots” of 1943; and director of the communist National Negro Congress.

Born on June 5, 1907,[2] Revels was the fourth child of Susie and Horace Cayton. The Cayton family, is one of the most prominent in Seattle history, was heavily active in Seattle organizations. Revels took his role as a member of this family seriously; he felt that he had a responsibility to society. This pressure and sense that he owed something to the world, resulted in a life that would impact countless others. This paper will explore the life and activism of this remarkable figure’s life in Seattle , from his role in the Communist Party to his work in waterfront unions, Revels Cayton shows the important role African Americans could play in the fight for minority rights throughout the world.

Activism was a common trend in the Cayton family; it was therefore no surprise when Revels continued in the family tradition. Based heavily on extensive oral history work he did with Revels Cayton, Richard Hobbs wrote a dissertation and book on the lives of the Cayton family, and these sources are key for understanding Revels’ life.

Revels’ father Horace Cayton, Sr. was born a slave in Mississippi . It was his childhood experiences that would lead Horace to become a proponent for African American rights in Seattle and to create numerous newspapers, including the Seattle Republican. Through the newspapers and community activism Horace would encourage the African American community to seek independence. Revels’ mother Susie Cayton grew up in Mississippi the daughter of Hiram Revels, the first African American member in the United States Senate.[3]

            The Caytons raised five children who would strive for success because they were Caytons. All five found different ways to live out their parents’ legacies. The eldest son, Horace Jr., who became a famous sociologist, described the family sense of obligation in this way: “our goals were dictated by our past; we were obligated by our family history to achievement in our fight for individual and racial equality.”[4] Horace Jr. was not the only Cayton who saw things this way. His younger brother, Revels, took this family obligation to heart and strove to live his life in the image of his ancestors. The entire family looked to their past and in particular to the image of their grandfather, Hiram Revels—Revels’namesake—whose presence was always felt.

            As children the Caytons experienced many different aspects of life in Seattle . For many years their family thrived, living in the wealthiest residential areas of Seattle , known as Capitol Hill.[5] Seattle during the early 1900s was beginning to grow; large numbers of people were migrating to the Pacific Northwest in search of work and opportunities. Among them were several thousand African Americans, from 1900 to 1940 the African American population grew from 406 to 3, 789.[6] The majority settled in Seattle ’s “Central District.” It was rare for African Americans to move outside this particular area of the city, therefore, the fact that the Caytons lived in Capitol Hill meant that the Cayton children would have different experiences than other African American children in Seattle .

On May 13, 1913 things dramatically changed for the Cayton family: Horace Sr. was forced shut down the Seattle Republican, the newspaper he published for nineteen years. The loss of the newspaper resulted in financial hardships for the family. The family had already moved into an apartment building after the loss of their home on Capitol Hill in 1909. The loss was because of a restrictive covenant that made it against the law for an African American family to live in that area.[7] These events would drastically change the direction of Revels’ life. He would no longer grow up in a prominent area of Seattle ; rather he would come to maturity in neighborhoods throughout Seattle because the family moved often. It was also through these experiences that Revels and his family would realize what it meant to be racially different and would drive Revels’ need to find racial equality and eventually would result in his participation in the Communist Party of Seattle and other radical activities.

            In 1913 the family moved again, this time to the Rainer Valley where Revels would attend Rainer Elementary and Garfield High School . Financial troubles became a constant issue for the Cayton family; their circumstances were constantly changing, depending on the success of whatever project Horace Sr. was working on at the time. It was in this state of uncertainty that Revels grew up. The family never knew if things were going to change the next day or if their current status would last. Financial problems were always an issue for the Caytons; therefore all of the children were forced to work at young ages.

The financial struggles the family faced led Revels to the waterfront in the summer of 1922, where at the age of fifteen he found work as a telephone operator on various passenger ships.[8] He also worked as a waiter, working up to sixteen hours a day for very low wages. This type of work was very difficult, and one writer from the 1930s described it this way, “[the waiter] was awakened at five-thirty…after his own breakfast, he set up his tables and was ready to serve guests at seven…He then helped clean up…. Cleaned the silver and set up his tables for lunch…cleaned again and set up for dinner…and then cleaned again before being able to eat dinner sometime around nine-thirty…”[9] It was under these circumstances that he was first exposed to the powerful possibilities of worker organizing through the Colored Marine Employees Benevolent Association (CMEBA). The CMEBA was created by local African American leader, James Roston, to break the waterfront strike of 1922 and allow African Americans to work on the passenger ships coming in and out of Seattle . The Association was designed to unite black workers by having a central bargaining force but not to be specifically a labor union.[10] Revels’ early experience on the waterfront would help mold him into the role of an activist. Later in life he would be drawn to the waterfront again and this time it would be in a more powerful position when he became heavily involved in the Marine Cooks and Stewards Union in San Francisco . 

After his summer at sea, Revels returned to school and took up where he left off, playing baseball and football. Unfortunately, in 1925 he became incredibly ill, he was diagnosed with encephalitis lethargis. The disease also known as “sleeping sickness” left Revels incredibly weak, so weak that it took him a year to recover enough to return to school.[11] The disease not only affected Revels physically, but psychologically as well. His illness ended his dream of becoming a famous baseball player, and ultimately lead him towards communism and his activist action in Seattle and elsewhere. While recovering from the illness, Revels met a Wobblie who introduced the eighteen-year-old to the ideas of socialism. Revels described the encounter in this way: “by the time I got off that porch [where he spent hours talking politics while recovering from his illness]…I was a socialist. I found it…reasonable and sensible…that the only way that Blacks were going to get free would be in conjunction with the working class…”[12] Revels began to read avidly about socialism and was convinced that if the world would follow these ideals, there would be fewer racial problems and workers rights would be better. This encounter changed Revels’ view of society and when he returned to high school his attitude was very different. His new outlook made relations with fellow students and teachers difficult. He now was alienated from his peers based on political views as well as race.

In June of 1929, Revels graduated from high school and rather than celebrating with his classmates he was once again drawn to the waterfront. He wandered through Pioneer Square in downtown Seattle listening to the complaints of the workers. As Revels began to contemplate his future, he realized that with his poor grades, college was not an option. In 1932, the Depression’s deepening hold over Seattle made work scarce, and at the age of twenty-five Revels decided to sit in on classes at the University of Washington . It was on the Seattle campus that Revels, already sympathetic with labor radicalism, was first introduced to communism. He soon began attending meetings of the Young Communists League with a friend.[13]

           The Communist Party of America was formed in 1919 as an offshoot of the international movement. The movement became very popular in Washington among the many workers trying to organize and make a better living in the growing economy of the Pacific Northwest . Along with the worker rights, racial tension was one of the key issues of the Party during the 1930s. Party rhetoric revolved around creating a system in which all workers would be equal and therefore there would be no racial tensions. The Party felt that it was necessary to pull all workers into the Party including African Americans and other minorities. In 1928 the Communist International created the “Resolution on the Negro Question.” The resolution stated that racism in the United States was affecting the ability of the Party to organize effectively.[14] It was this statement of action that created great change in the American faction of the Communist Party and allowed for an increase in the number of African American members in the Party. An example of this emphasis on racial changes in the Party can be seen in the “Proposed Draft Resolution-8th District convention, March 17-18, 1934.” This document presented many of the “fundamental tasks” facing the party. The eighth task stated that they wanted to work on the “development of struggles against discrimination, Jim Crowism, and for the rights of Negroes and Filipinos.”[15] The opening up of the Party to minorities allowed the Party to reach a larger audience and make a larger impact.

              The Communist Party had a very large impact on the life of Revels Cayton. It was as a member in the early 1930s that Revels began to become active in supporting campaigns against racial injustice not just in Seattle but through solidarity with workers around the country. Like many African American activists of his generation, it was work on the Scottsboro Boys campaign through the communist International Labor Defense (ILD) that first inspired Revels’ Communist Party involvement.  On March 25, 1931 nine African American youths were arrested in Scottsboro , Alabama and charged with rape. The alleged victims were two young white women who had been found with the young men on a freight train...[16] The race of the two groups determined the verdict and the sentences. Eight of the nine teenagers were sentenced to death. Claiming blatant racism, Communist Party and the ILD stepped in to defend the Scottsboro boys. Revels was so captivated by the case of these boys that he created a group in Seattle committed to saving the boys from death. He would speak numerous times about the boys and tour with Mother Patterson and Mother Wright, the mothers of some of the boys, at meetings across the state of Washington .[17] He was quoted in The Northwest Enterprise as saying that “the danger of lynching at the hands of either the Alabama courts or an inflamed mob grows daily. The fight for freedom of the Scottsboro boys must be greatly intensified.”[18] Revels brought this intensity to all that he did and through his participation with the ILD expanded his campaigning greatly.

       Revels formally became a member of the Seattle chapter of the Communist Party sometime in early 1934. There are many reasons he may have become a more active member then. Hobbs states that it was because a friend said that he would have a better standing within the International Defense League. In letter to Richard Hobbs, Revels explained that “…in the beginning I was drawn to the Party because I believed that in a socialist system there would be no racism.” The Party gave Revels status and power within a tight community and therefore gave him important tools and direction for his later life. Revels also recalled to Hobbs that “membership in the Party gave me a sense of identity, a direction, a purpose. It also continued [my] education…because the Party required members to be reading, and studying.”[19] This seeking education and a sense of belonging may have been reasons why Revels would align himself within the Communist Party, an always controversial organization that would face increased scrutiny in the years to come.

            In January of 1934, Revels Cayton declared his candidacy for the Seattle City Council on the Communist Party ticket. It’s possible, due to the hierarchical structure of the Communist Party, that Revels was chosen to run and then told that he would be a candidate instead of choosing to pursue this position on his own. He is probably only one of a very small handful of African Americans who were chosen for such a prestigious role within the Party. But Revels also used the Party’s support to push a radical civil rights agenda in Seattle ’s more class-based political culture.

            Throughout January and February of 1934, the Communist Party spent a great deal of time trying to present their ideals to the working class in the hopes of creating a working class movement that would make communism a greater part of Seattle politics. The Communist Party publication Voice of Action introduced Revels in this way:

Revels Cayton, the youngest candidate running for office, is 24 years old. He was born and reared in the city of Seattle , a graduate of Garfield high, played on their baseball and football teams. Cayton is a Negro worker and a symbol in this campaign of the unity of all workers regardless of race, creed or color. He went to sea nine years ago. Later he became a dishwasher, waiter, bellhop, cook and steward. He joined the Young Communist League and the Marine Workers Industrial Union years ago. At present he is district secretary of the International Labor Defense.[20]

  This quote shows how the Party wanted to place him on a personal level with prospective voters, making him out to be an all-American individual at the same time that they affirm his party credentials. It also shows that he was a worker and was facing the same hardships that other workers in Seattle were facing. It is representative of the Party’s struggle to place their movement on a lower level and to create a place for African Americans.

            Revels and other communist candidates ran under a single political platform. In an article in the Voice of Action, the editor explained that “the points are those that affect every working man and woman in town. Jobs, adequate relief…unemployment insurance…such issues are the real issues in the campaign, and only the platform of the communists deals with such problems.” The article goes on to say that the Voice of Action chooses to support the communist candidates because they back up their words with action.[21] One of the main issues for the communists was support of striking workers, his appeal to workers may have been a contributing factor to why Revels was chosen by the Party as its representative. In the end the Party’s ideology failed to attract the working class votes they sought. There just were not enough communists or communist supporters living in Seattle to allow for a communist candidate to be elected.

            In April, 1934, Revels became involved in another legal case in which a man was convicted of murder based on the color of his skin. In 1932 Theodore Jordan, a man living in Klamath Falls, Oregon, was convicted of murder by an all white jury and sentenced to die. During the first trial, Jordan had a very weak defense team and therefore the NAACP stepped in and demanded a retrial and managed to get a stay of execution. The International Defense League, led by Revels, stepped in and took over Jordan ’s defense from the NAACP. Revels took credit for getting the new trial started and was quoted in the Voice of Action as saying that “Governor Meier promised to appoint an investigation committee in this case. He has not yet done so, and every effort must be made to force him to appoint one with full representation on it for Jordan ’s defenders.”[22] The defense of Jordan was successful in that it prevented him from being hung; however, they were not successful in freeing him and he was not paroled until 1960 after serving twenty-six years in prison.[23]

            During the same time period in which Revels was working to free Theodore Jordan, he traveled to Roslyn with Mr. and Mrs. E.M. Hugh-Jones. The Hugh-Jones’ were visiting from Oxford to study labor conditions in America . In April of 1934 a bitter miners strike was occurring in the small mining town of Roslyn in Eastern Washington . Revels was there to show the British couple the situation as a representative if the International Defense League. Soon after being spotted, he was arrested because of his reputation as a troublemaker. Revels described his experiences in two articles in the Voice of Action. In the first article on April 17, 1934, Revels describes what the miners in Roslyn’s multiracial union were facing. In speaking about the mood, he says, “the air was electric. The solidarity of the miners, their wives, permeated me. The viciousness of their situation. Their hope and determination.”[24] The second article on May 1934 has a different feel. The headline reads, “Cayton Describes Roslyn Jailing, Lynch Threats; Grilled by Police, Thugs.” The article describes how he was arrested and then grilled in a Cle Elum jail cell, while outside the building “vigilantes” waiting for his release so they could exact justice.[25] Ultimately Revels was released because of the persistence of the British couple who accompanied him. This event shows how the white community viewed Revels as a radical troublemaker.

            In August of 1934, Revels stepped away from work with the International Labor Defense and helped to create the Seattle chapter of the League of Struggle for Negro Rights (LSNR). The LSNR was a more radical arm of the Communist Party created in 1930. The Voice of Action reported that “Revels Cayton, District Organizer of the International Labor Defense, analyzed at length the problem of Negro workers, and concluded with the program of the [LSNR]. His point of emphasis was militant mass action as the way of forcing concessions.”[26] Revels either chose or was forced to step away from the ILD and focus upon the LSNR.  When not in San Francisco working on waterfront workers’ issues, Revels would lead the aggressive, militant group in its struggles against discrimination and segregation until the spring of 1935.[27] Revels continued his role as a prominent member of the Communist Party while working with the LSNR and was named the Party’s candidate for the 37th District-State Senate position in September 1934.[28] His candidacy was unsuccessful and only mentioned the one time in Voice of Action.

            The state of Washington is one of the only states in America to never have had an anti-intermarriage law on the books, though it wasn’t from lack of trying. Several anti-intermarriage laws were presented and never passed. In February, 1935, King County Representative Dorian Todd introduced House Bill Number 301 to the Washington State Legislature. The Bill, known as the Todd Bill, would have banned intermarriage in the state of Washington . The Northwest Enterprise, the most prominent African American newspaper in the region, thought the issue so alarming that it reprinted the entire Todd Bill. The Bill stated that it was intent on regulating marriage and in turn would determine who fell under what category.

…The term ‘white’ or ‘white person’ shall mean and include all persons of the European or white race...and all others whose ancestral lineage can be traced to inhabitants of any European country which had political existence…to 1800…

…The term ‘negro’ shall mean and include the Ethiopian or black race and/or any of the inhibited races…

  The Bill goes on to include other “races” and specify what they were considered. It also specifies that any person with “intermixture of blood” is considered the race other than white. It also states, “all marriages of white person hereafter performed or solemnized in the state of Washington with negroes, Mongolians, or Oceanics as herein defined are illegal and void.” The Bill also would have regulated other aspects of marriage including licenses and the conditions under which marriage can be performed.[29]

            Revels Cayton took an active roll in opposing the anti-intermarriage bill. He penned two articles for the Voice of Action about the issue, arguing that the “Anti Intermarriage Bill Is Attempt To Smash Unity” and,

Only when one takes into consideration the ruling class drive to fascisize America and in turn this dri ve by the toiling masses and broad sections of the farmer and middle class population, is it possible to understand the full significance of the Anti-Interracial bill that has been introduced in the Washington State Legislature.

  The attack on minority groups is proceeding hand in hand with the economic assault on the living standards of the workers and the drive to deprive the latter of the last remnants of their democratic rights.

  In this article, Revels presented the attempt to outlaw intermarriage in Washington as an attack against African American involvement in working class struggles. He asked organizations throughout Washington to step forward and protest the law and asked that individuals fight for their rights as well.[30]

            In his next article, Revels celebrated the defeat of the Anti-intermarriage law:

Certain Democratic legislators, Todd and Co., like their brother lynchers down South, thought they would be able to slip the vicious Anti-Intermarriage Bill through nice and quiet. They were greatly surprised, however, when the Negro people refused to pussy-foot on the issue but rose up by the hundreds and demanded that the bill be killed.

  He claims that with the help of the Communist Party and the Voice of Action, the African American community was able to unite with the white workers to create a movement that was strong enough to put down the powerful white leaders in government. He ends his article with a plea to fight “Uncle Tom Politics” and to build the Voice of Action, “the true voice of the militant white workers and of the Negro people.”[31]

            There were far reaching results of Revels’ role in the Communist Party. He earned the reputation of a troublemaker, which made it difficult to work anywhere in the state of Washington . He was black-listed at the waterfront, making it difficult to find work. Finding work in Seattle during the Depression was hard for every worker, it was harder still if you were an African American in search of work. The black community, including the Caytons, in Seattle relied upon jobs in the services industries. These jobs included those on the boats, African Americans quickly lost their jobs in the wake of the Depression as crews were slashed and the African Americans were the first to lose their jobs.[32] As a result of hard times, the entire Cayton family was placed on county relief. At one point during the winter of 1933, the family was removed from the lists because of Revels’ radical actions for the Communist Party and the ILD. Revels was outraged when the family was taken off relief, and immediately demanded that they not punish his family for his actions. Due to his confrontation, all except for Revels himself were reinstated.[33] Another result of Revels’ participation in the Communist Party was that his mother, Susie, became involved in the Party sometime during the mid-1930s after being introduced to it by her son.[34]

            In May, 1934, an event happened that would eventually lead to Revels’ decision to leave the city of Seattle . The dramatic Maritime Strike of 1934 drew Revels back to the waterfront.  During the strike Revels, worked on the waterfront as an organizer. His actions during the strike brought him back into the labor movement, and inspired him to leave Seattle and travel to San Francisco , where the heart of waterfront labor organizing was located. By the spring of 1935, Revels was extremely active in the Marine Cooks and Stewards Union .[35]

            Revels’ life in Seattle was full of activism on behalf of workers and African Americans. He left a mark on the city that will never be forgotten. His life had many ups and downs as he traveled throughout the country working with different labor and civil rights organizations. He was a strong leader of the Marine Cooks and Stewards where he helped lead the Harry Bridges faction of the group and the voice of the African American workers in the union. In 1937, he became the MCS representative to the Maritime Federation of the Pacific, and in July was elected Vice President of the MFP Bay Area Council.[36]

            In 1939, Revels married Ethel Horowitz, a young Jewish girl he knew from Garfield High School . He remained in San Francisco working with the MCS and the CIO until 1941 when he moved to Los Angeles . In Los Angeles , he worked with the CIO as an organizer and became director of the State CIO Minorities Commission and Vice President of the California State CIO Council. He returned to San Francisco for a time until in 1945 he was asked to be the executive secretary of the National Negro Congress in New York . It was during this time on the NNC that Revels’ attention shifted back to more direct links with the Communist Party. At the same time that Revels was experiencing New York , his marriage to Ethel was falling apart—she did not travel to New York and their marriage effectively ended with his move. The NNC only lasted a few years after Revels joined the organization, in large part succumbing to anti-communist pressure. While working with NNC, Revels met his second wife, Lee Davidson. They were married in February 1948 and a little over a year later their son Michael Revels Cayton was born.[37]

            After the end of the NNC in 1947, Revels once again turned his attention to the labor movement. In 1952, his connection ended with the Communist Party when he stopped attending meetings. In the early 1950s, Revels’ returned to San Francisco . During the fifties, Revels struggled to find work and it was not until the 1960s that he again became heavily involved in the civil rights struggles in California . He became a prominent figure in San Francisco and was named in 1964 to the Human Rights Commission and later served as Deputy for Social Programs under the mayor of San Francisco . He continued to work with city government until he retired in 1972, but continued to be a strong advocate for the rights of minorities after his retirement. Although he was not an active member of the Communist Party in his later life, he never totally disavowed the group, and continued to be supportive of its ideals. [38]

Revels Cayton died at the age of eighty-eight on November 4, 1995. His life affected many people; he centered his life on activism, and supported minorities and workers across the United States . Through the Communist Party, he was able to find his place within the world of political and social activism. Throughout his life he took on many roles that challenged the status quo, in particular his work on behalf of workers on the waterfront and in other industries was incredible because of his race and lack of education. He made huge impacts upon the Civil Rights and Labor movement of Seattle and the rest of the country and his role should never be forgotten.

(c) Sarah Falconer 2005

(HIST 498 Fall 2004)

Bibliography

Cayton, Horace C. Long Old Road . Seattle : University of Washington Press. 1963

Denton , Eugene V. Paper. University of Washington Special Collections. 11 November 2004. Accession Number 3917-2.  

Foner, Philip S. and Shapiro, Herbert (editors). American Communism and Black Americans: A Documentary History, 1930-1934. Philadelphia : Temple University Press. 1991.  

Goodman, James. Stories of Scottsboro. New York : Pantheon Books. 1994.  

Hobbs, Richard S. The Cayton Legacy: An African American Family. Pullman : WSU Press. 2002.  

Hobbs , Richard Stanley. The Cayton legacy: Two generation of a Black family, 1859-1976. Ann Arbor : UMI Dissertation Services. 1989.  

Jackson, Joseph Sylvester. The Colored Marine Employees Benevolent Association of the Pacific, 1921-1934. Thesis: University of Washington . 1939  

Taylor, Quintard. The Forging of a Black Community: Seattle’s Central District from 1870 through the Civil Rights Era. Seattle : University of Washington Press. 1994.  

The Northwest Enterprise . 10 August 1933. 14 February 1935.  

Voice of Action. 7 August 1933. 27 February 1934. 3 April 1934. 17 April 1934. 8 May 1934. 3 August 1934. 14 September 1934. 15 February 1935. 29 March 1935.

 


[1] Voice of Action. 27 February 1934.

[2] It is unclear what year Revels was born. In Hobbs (1989) he states 1909 and a Voice of Action article says he was 24 in 1934 corroborating this date. However, in his other book Hobbs (2002) gives the date of June 5, 1907 for. For the purpose of this paper I will use the 1907 date.

[3] Richard Hobbs. The Cayton Legacy. (2002): 1-22.

[4] Horace Cayton. Long Old Road . (1963): 3.

[5] Cayton, 3.

[6] Quintard Taylor. The Forging of a Black Community. (1994): 52.

[7] Hobbs (2002), 48-51.

[8] Hobbs (2002), 81.

[9] Joseph Sylvester Jackson. The Colored Marine Employees Benevolent Association. (1939): 23-24.

[10] Jackson , 31.

[11] Hobbs (2002), 81.

[12] Richard Stanley Hobbs . The Cayton Legacy. (1989): 231.

[13] Hobbs (2002), 88.

[14] Philip S Foner and Herbert Shapiro. American Communism and Black Americans. (1991): XI.

[15] Eugene V. Dennet Papers. Box 1 , folder 12.

[16] James Goodman. Stories of Scottsboro. (1994): XI.

[17] Voice of Action, August 7, 1933.

[18] The Northwest Enterprise , August 10, 1933.

[19] Hobbs (2002), 91-90.

[20] Voice of Action, 27 February 1934. Unsure if the age stated is accurate, most likely 26.

[21] Voice of Action. 27 February 1934.

[22] Voice of Action. 3 April 1934.

[24] Revels Cayton, Voice of Action. 17 April 1934.

[25] Voice of Action. 8 May 1934. Revels is quoted in this article.

[26] Voice of Action. 3 August 1934.

[27] Hobbs (1989), 253.

[28] Voice of Action. 14 September 1934. The V of A states 47th while Hobbs (2002) states 37th (p. 93)

[29] The Northwest Enterprise . 14 February 1935.

[30] Revels Cayton. Voice of Action. 15 February 1935.

[31] Revels Cayton. Voice of Action. 29 March 1935.

[32] Taylor , 63.

[33] Hobbs (1989), 245

[34] Hobbs (2002), 96.

[35] Hobbs (1989), 257.

[36] Hobbs (2002), 148-154.

[37] Hobbs (2002), 153-166.

[38] Hobbs (2002), 167-203.

The Voice of Action, published by the Communist Party, applauded Cayton's leadership in the 1934 demonstration against "white only" businesses in downtown Seattle. (Click on the image for a larger version of this and other clippings below)

 

For more on the Cayton family see: Richard S. Hobbs, The Cayton Legacy: An African American Family (Pullman: WSU Press. 2002)


In 1935 Cayton became a leader in the Marine Cooks and Stewards Union which later affiliated with the ILWU. Photo credit: ILWU


The marriage of a Filipino man and a white woman spurred calls for a law to outlaw racially mixed marriages. When the legislature considered the bill in early 1935, Cayton campaigned against it. Click above and below  to read his articles in the Voice of Action. 

On the successful campaign see Stefanie Johnson, Blocking Anti-Miscegenation Laws in 1935 and 1937: Seattle's First Civil Rights Coalition


Chosen by the Communist Party to run for the Seattle City Council in 1934, Cayton gained 1,737 votes in the March election. 


Convicted on murder by an all-white Oregon jury, Theodore Jordan was sentenced to hang. Cayton and the ILD won him a new trial and saved his life.


For more on the racial politics of the Communist Party see
Communism in Washington State History and Memory Project

and Shelley Pinckney, "Race and Civil Rights in the Washington State Communist Party"


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