June 1966, Convention
By NElt A. MARTIN United Press International NEW YORK (UPI> -Its leadership has been thinned by time and its membership is down to 12,000 J>y its own count, but the Communist party of the United States thinks the day is due for radicalism in America — and it hopes to emerge as the leader of a new "popular front" of leftists. ' So it is running candidates for office for the first time in years and it is . opening its doors part-way and inviting the public" to look it 'over. —"The-two-party^system- has placed the electorate in a American Communist Party Holding Convention; Hopes To Emerge As 'Popular Front' Leader . . • . c, • • - ...... ' • straight jack e t and new avenues of expression will have to be found to represent the movement," says Gus Hall, leading spokesman . for the homegrown Communists. He expects the "new avenue 1 ' to be paved at the party's 18th national convention, its first since 1958 —and the first ever to be partially opened to press coverage. — Dingy Quarters The convention opens tonight in dingy Webster Hall in lower Manhattan's "East' Village," not far from Union Square, long-the^stornping -grounds-for radicals of every persuasion.. Hall, 55, a native. Minnesotan, runs the party from an old four-story brownstOne on W. 26th St., just off Fifth Aye, He is one of the few old faces left in the party's aging leadership. Death has taken the bellicose leaders of the 1930s — William Z. Foster, Eugene Dennis, Benjamin J. Davis Jr., who was once elected to the New York City Council, and Gurley Flynn, a motherly looking spinster who died on a pilgrimage to Moscow in 1963. Hall is now Identified only as the party's "leading spokesman,"- but"he~is~cxpected~to~b(r renamed by the convention as general secretary —America's No. 1 communist. Stripped Of Titles The party's leaders were stripped.of their titles in 1961 following the party's indictment for failure to register as an agent of the Soviet Union.'it 13 appealing Its conviction. The titles were, dropped so none of the leaders could be prosecuted as agents oj the party." • ,,„. ~' "^ Hall said the' leaders were "fully aware" that the restoration of the titles coujd ; proinpt new prosecutions. But they fejt it? was necessary if tfie Communists were to capitalize on "the pew surge of leftist political activity," he said. •A 128-page "new program' 1 to be debated at the convention calls fpr a coalition of the Communists with leftist groups to. form a "new mass political party;" supported by anti-war, civil rights, labor and minority segments of American society. - 1 Seeking Election Even without the. "popular front," a Communist is seeking election to Congress this fall. Dr. Hebert Aptheker of Brooklyn is running in the 12th District of 'Brooklyn, hppingjo unseat Rep. Edna F. Kelly,' a Democrat-liberal. Buddhists — A party spokesman said 300' delegates from 40 states and "several hundred" of the'500 invited guests were expected to attend the convention. It invited "fraternal delegates" from 85 countries to attend, but the State Department denied them visas. Only 1 Wednesday night's opening session will be public with newsmen invited. Photographers were told members of the audience could not b.e photographed. "This restriction is necessary _so__as_lto__pMect-Jndi.viduals_ from photographs which may result in loss of employment or political and personal harrass- ment, 1 ' the party said.