Massachusetts Historical Society

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"Learn, Babies, Learn": Civil Rights, Anticommunism & African American FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) Informants Lola Belle Holmes & Julia Brown

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Author: Veronica A. Wilson, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown
Comment: Janice A. Brockley, Jackson State University

This is an online event.

This paper explores the careers of Lola Belle Holmes and Julia Brown, African Americans who spied for the FBI within the U.S. Communist Party in the 1940s-50s. In the 1960s, Brown and Holmes became speakers for the John Birch Society. Condemning Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as a Communist sympathizer, they claimed subversives permeated the civil rights movement.

Veronica A. Wilson’s project analyzes Holmes and Brown’s rhetoric, objectives, and efforts to elect arch-segregationist George Wallace. Despite discrimination and limited job opportunities, Holmes and Brown’s anticommunism let them forge lucrative and interesting professional careers – something rare for working-class Black women of the 1960s.

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