On this day, in 1935 the National Negro Congress held its first convention in Chicago. 817 delegates attended. The group grew out of a conference at Howard University on the economic status of African American Americans a year earlier in Washington D.C. John P. Davis, of the Joint Committee on National Recovery, Ralph J. Bunche, Alain Locke of Howard University along with the Communist Party’s James Ford were among the principal organizers. A. Philip Randolph from the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters was elected chairman.
The National Negro Congress focused on fighting lynching, police violence and segregation. It actively promoted voting rights and was instrumental in promoting the case of the Scottsboro defendants.
At its height the group enjoyed wide support among workers, intellectuals, and artists. The Communist Party played a key, though not exclusive role in bringing it to fruition.