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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Lawrence Rogin, November 2, 1975. Interview E-0013. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Coming to the labor movement through radical politics

Rogin briefly explains his entrance into radical politics and the labor movement during the late 1920s. Earlier in the interview, Rogin describes his family background and emphasizes his family's advocacy of such ideologies as anarchy and communism. When he became a student at Columbia University, Rogin followed suit, participating in a Socialist Club. Through his involvement in radical politics on campus, Rogin became interested in the labor movement, specifically the Conference for Progressive Labor Action. His comments are demonstrative of the close ties between radical politics and labor activism at that time.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Lawrence Rogin, November 2, 1975. Interview E-0013. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

So when I went off to college (I went to New York to college, went to Columbia in 1926) I started to work with the Communists. I never became a member, but I did a lot of work with them. In January '26 I started working with the CP in Harlem. And I got tired of reading lies about meetings I'd been to in the Daily Worker. And I figured you couldn't build anything worthwhile on lies, and so I quit——not because I didn't believe in the revolution or whatever. Then somewhat later I decided to join the Socialist party—this was in the fall of '28. By '28 I was in a small Socialist club at Columbia and I ran a "Thomas for President" campaign there. And I began to think: you know, if you looked around the world you saw that there were no successful radical parties (Communist or Socialist) that didn't have a labor movement attached to them. So I began to think that was a real problem in this country, was the character of the labor movement, and I became involved in the Conference for Progressive Labor Action.
WILLIAM FINGER:
In the what?
LAWRENCE ROGIN:
Conference for Progressive Labor Action. You don't know that? Well, that was a kind of a … it's very hard to say. It was not political, in the sense that it was not Communist or Socialist (although there were Socialists and Trotskyites and others in it). But it was a kind of a group that felt that the labor movement needed reforming: you needed industrial unions, and you needed political action, you needed activism, so on and so forth.