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AFT Meeting: "Free Schools - Free People"

This photograph shows Dr. Bella Dodd, legislative director of the New York Teachers Union and an organizer for the Communist Party, addressing a crowd in protest of the Rapp-Coudert hearings on December 11, 1940, at the Manhattan Center.

The Rapp-Coudert Committee, a New York State initiative, was organized in June 1940 to investigate and identify "subversive activities" and persons in New York City's public schools and colleges. Various teachers' unions, including the one led by Dodd, were especially targeted in the initial stages of the investigation as their membership rolls provided state officials with a ready-made list of many union activists who had previously worked to reform education in the city and state.

The committee's creation was driven largely by rising anti-communist sentiment following the Nazi-Soviet Pact of 1939; state officials sought to rid publicly funded schools of undesired "red" influence. Holding private hearings from September 1940 through December 1941, the group issued subpoenaed and interrogated more than 500 faculty, staff, and students. City College, in particular, became a target of the committee with dozens of faculty and staff called to public hearings, pressured to identify themselves as communists, and demanded to name names of other communist sympathizers. By the close of the committee, more than fifty faculty and staff at CCNY were left without jobs because of their refusal to cooperate with the committee.
Source | Reference Center for Marxist Studies
Creator | Unknown
Date Created | December 12, 1940
Rights | Obtain From Reference Center for Marxist Studies
Item Type | Still Image (Photograph)
Cite This document | Unknown, “AFT Meeting: "Free Schools - Free People",” CUNY Digital History Archive, accessed June 17, 2019,

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