Oral Histories

Interview of Lester Rodney

Sports journalist and editor for the Daily Worker. Member of the Communist Party.
Baseball and Social Conscience
Interviews not in a series, part one
Social Movements
Communist Party
Biographical Note:
Sports journalist and editor for the Daily Worker. Member of the Communist Party.
Furmanovsky, Michael and Buhle, Paul
Rodney, Lester
Persons Present:
Rodney, Buhle, and Fermanowsky.
Place Conducted:
Rodney's home in Torrance, California.
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library's Center for Oral History Research.
Interviewer Background and Preparation:
The interview was conducted by Paul Buhle, founder and former publisher of Radical America, editor of Cultural Correspondent,and head of the Oral History of the American Left, Tamiment Institute, New York University. Michael Fermanowsky, Ph.D. student, American history, UCLA. Buhle prepared for the interview by reading a brief article about Rodney by Mark Naison which had been published in the socialist paper In These Times ("Sports for the Daily Worker, " October 12, 1977).
Processing of Interview:
Editing was done by Connie Bullock, editor, Oral History Program. She checked the verbatim transcript of the interview against the original recordings and edited for punctuation, spelling, paragraphing, and the verification of proper nouns. Words and phrases inserted by the editor have been bracketed.Rodney reviewed and approved the edited transcript, supplying some supplementary names and occasional amplifications. Bernard Burton wrote the introduction.Bullock prepared the rest of the front matter and the index.
3 hrs.
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Family's political orientation; impact of the Depression; early enthusiasm for baseball; Ebbets Field and the Brooklyn Dodgers; exposure to Marxist thought at New York University; ambition to be a writer; writing articles for Daily Worker sports section; Daily Worker polls workers on propriety of carrying sports news; Heywood Broun covers Rodney and John Kieran covering sports; should baseball or soccer be emphasized for Daily Worker readers; covering the Negro baseball leagues; Red Rolfe covers 1938 World Series for Daily Worker; promoting integration of black players in sports; William Z. Foster, sports fan; Earl Browder, intellectual; popularity of Daily Worker sports section; importance of basketball to Daily Worker readers; Daily Worker writers: Virginia Gardner, Abner Berry, Alan Max, Rob Hall, Sender Garlin, Harry Raymond; social class and prize fighting; racial integration in football; significance of Joe Louis for the black community; important prize fights; Rodney's column about excessive roughness in the Dartmouth-Columbia football game; Madison Square Garden basketball game between City College of New York and the University of Wyoming; Yiddish culture and assimilation; Jackie Robinson's first year playing with the Dodgers; Hy Turkin gives Rodney substantial credit for the desegregation of baseball; political activities required of communist writers; writing sports books; leaving the Communist Party; moving to California; working on the Santa Monica Evening Outlook; Roy Campanella; Jackie Robinson and Paul Robeson; Daily Worker sports coverage diminishes after the onset of the Cold War; American reactions to fascism; Foster's views on U.S. military forces; Joseph Starobin's criticisms of the Communist Party; Foster-Browder conflict; expulsion from the party; Daily Worker compared with National Guardian and People's World; effect of Daily Worker sports coverage on the immigrant community; working for the Long Beach Independent Press-Telegram; the situation of American blacks in the Communist Party; Clare Rodney's upbringing in a socialist environment; Isaac Deutscher's response to revelations about Stalin; Communist Party conflicts after the Soviet invasion of Hungary; Rodney's impressions of Czechoslovakia and Romania, 1975; talks with Albert Maltz; Communist Party members who went underground during the Korean War; Abner W. Berry and Harry Haywood on black nationalism in the United States.