Biography and History

George Padmore, born Malcolm Ivan Meredith Nurse in Trinidad, worked there as a reporter before moving to the United States in 1924. In 1927 he changed his name, and by then he was working among Blacks in Harlem, editing the newspaper Negro Champion. Padmore joined the American Communist Party's American Negro Labour Congress, while contributing articles to the left-wing newspaper the Daily Worker. His talents as an organiser and writer led to his appointment as head of the Communist International's "Negro Bureau". From 1929 to 1933 he was a leading agitator for colonial revolution, travelling widely and residing for periods in Moscow, Hamburg, Vienna, London and Paris, as well as editing and writing for the Negro Worker. However, when the rise of Hitler's Nazis in Germany led the Soviet Union to join the League of Nations and seek new diplomatic and military ties with Britain and France, anti-colonialism was no longer the central issue it once was for the Communist International. Disillusioned, Padmore resigned from his positions and faced vicious Stalinist slander and verbal attacks, and in 1935 he left Russia and returned to England. In 1937, he formed the International African Service Bureau, later the Pan-African Federation and in 1945, together with Ghana's Kwame Nkrumah, he was central in organising the Fifth Pan African Congress held in Manchester, England, which was attended by many scholars, intellectuals and political activists who would later go on to become influential leaders in various African independence movements and the American civil rights movement.

Source: From the finding aid for C1247

  • George Padmore Collection. 1933-1945 (inclusive).

    Call Number: C1247

    Consists of original letters, essays, and articles of George Padmore, one of a number of talented West Indians who helped shape African events in the 20th century. Padmore played a crucial role in developing the Fifth, Pan African Congress, intended to address the issues facing Africa due to European colonization of much of the continent. He was also instrumental in organizing black labor movements from the 1930s onwards.