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Langston (Berta Green) papers
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Processing Information
  • Preferred Citation
  • Related Collections
  • Biographical / Historical
  • Scope and Contents
  • Custodial History
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Arrangement
  • Conditions Governing Use

  • Contributing Institution: Holt Labor Library at CSU Dominguez Hills
    Title: Berta Green Langston papers
    Creator: Langston, Berta Green, 1926-2010
    Identifier/Call Number: HLL.2019.002
    Physical Description: 1.25 Linear Feet
    Physical Description: 3 boxes
    Date (bulk): 1958-2005
    Abstract: This collection includes the personal and professional papers of Berta Green Langston, an active member of the Socialist Workers Party and Socialist Action who was involved in various protest movements during the 20th century. It includes newsletters, newspaper articles, miscellaneous writings, and correspondence with James Baldwin, Robert F. Williams, Albert Perry, Dave Dellinger, William Worthy, Pete Seeger, and Noam Chomsky, among others.
    Language of Material: Collection material is in English.

    Processing Information

    The collection was initially processed by Caralee Kahn in December 2005 at the Holt Labor Library in San Francisco, California. In 2019 Allison Ransom edited the finding aid in ArchivesSpace at the Gerth Archives and Special Collections, California State University, Dominguez Hills.

    Preferred Citation

    For information about citing archival material, see the Citations for Archival Material  guide, or consult the appropriate style manual.

    Related Collections

    Marjorie and Paul Colvin papers, HLL.2019.003; William and Beatrice Eisman papers, HLL.2019.004.

    Biographical / Historical

    Berta Green was born July 22, 1926, on the Lower East Side of New York City. She joined the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) at age 19 or 20. For a brief time in the 1960s she was a member of the Party's National Committee. She remained active in the SWP until 1983, when she was expelled along with numerous other long time members. She immediately went on to help form Socialist Action, to which she belonged for several years.
    In 1957-1958, she moved to Detroit and began working for the SWP full time. Her Party name was Berta Graham. One of her first tasks was to help organize a tour in Michigan for Harold Davies, a British Labour Party Member of Parliament, who was on a speaking tour of the United States and Canada in September 1958.
    At this time, the SWP was deeply involved in "regroupment," in which the Party's work was oriented toward connecting with Communist Party (CP) members following the Twentieth Congress and Khrushchev revelations. Langston was a member of a small minority that believed the CP members might abandon politics following recent changes in their party, and that participation in the growing civil rights movement would offer them greater opportunities. In an effort to encourage CP members to join the SWP, Langston volunteered to work on the Committee to Combat Racial Injustice's nine-day tour of Michigan led by Robert F. Williams, President of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), following the "kissing case" in North Carolina in December of 1958. During this time, she worked under the name Berta Green. Langston later moved back to New York City, where she participated in Cuban defense activity and was elected Secretary of the New York branch of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee (FPCC). Later she became the de-facto National Executive Secretary of the national group.
    When the SWP national office decided to move away from Cuba activism, which Langston protested, she was re-assigned from the FPCC to the Committee to Aid the Monroe Defendants (CAMD), where in her role as secretary she corresponded with Robert F. Williams regarding the Monroe legal cases as well as Williams' exile in Cuba.
    In the late 1960s, Langston became involved in organizing activities with the Alexander Defense Committee (ADC), which formed to aid victims of South African apartheid. Her husband, Robert Langston, was an officer of the committee. In the early 1970s, under the name Berta Langston, she was active in the Committee on New Alternatives in the Middle East (CONAME) along with her husband Robert Langston.

    Scope and Contents

    The Berta Green Langston Papers 1958-2005 consist of a selection of correspondence, newsletters, newspaper articles, and other documents concerning the Alexander Defense Committee, Committee to Combat Racial Injustice, the Fair Play for Cuba Committee (FPCC), the Committee to Aid the Monroe Defendants (CAMD), and the Committee on New Alternatives in the Middle East (CONAME), organizations in which the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) was active in the United States during the 1960's and 1970's.
    Correspondents of note in the collection include James Baldwin, Robert F. Williams, Albert Perry, Dave Dellinger, William Worthy, Pete Seeger, Noam Chomsky, and Arie Bober, as well as officials in the United States Department of Justice, Congress, and the Attorney General's office. Publications in the collection include issues of the CAMD newsletter The Crusader and the FPCC newsletters Fair Play, Student Council, and Cuban Press Survey. Some legal papers concerning the trial of the Monroe Defendants are included, as is one black and white photograph of the defendants. A draft of Van Gosse's 1993 book Where the Boys Are, newspaper clippings, press releases, event announcements, conference and symposia documents, and benefit concert information are also included.

    Custodial History

    The Berta Green Langston papers were donated to the Holt Labor Library in San Francisco, California between 2002 and 2005, and were acquired by the Gerth Archives and Special Collections at California State University, Dominguez Hills, in 2019.

    Conditions Governing Access

    Open for use by qualified researchers.


    The papers are arranged in five series: Series I. Alexander Defense Committee, 1965-1971; Series II. Fair Play for Cuba Committee, 1958-2002; Series III. Committee to Combat Racial Injustice, 1958-1959; Series IV. Committee to Aid Monroe Defendants, 1959-2001; Series V. Committee on New Alternatives in the Middle East, 1969-2005.

    Conditions Governing Use

    All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Director of Archives and Special Collections. Permission for publication is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical materials and not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Communism -- United States -- History -- 20th century
    Cuba -- History -- Revolution, 1959
    Anti-apartheid movements -- United States
    Socialism -- United States -- History -- 20th century
    Socialist Workers Party--United States--20th century
    Social justice -- United States
    Civil rights movements -- North Carolina -- History -- 20th century
    Civil rights
    African Americans -- Civil rights -- Southern States
    Williams, Robert F. (Robert Franklin), 1925-1996