Junius Scales

"There was tremendous resentment from generations from mistreatment. Most of the black women leaders, at least up until the time of the union, had never had an encounter with a white person that wasn't painful, humiliating or worse. So trying to get this across to white guys who were from the North, a lot of them, from outside the area, it was one hell of a thing."

- Junius Scales

Born in Greensboro in 1920, Scales moved with his family to Chapel Hill in 1936 where he completed his senior year at Chapel Hill High and, that fall, began studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In 1939, he joined the Communist Party and soon left school to organize mill workers in High Point After he returned from WWII to Chapel Hill in 1946, he completed his undergraduate degree, began the M.A. program in History, became state president of the communist-affiliated American Student Union, and founded the Chapel Hill Communist Party, which included numerous members of the Black community and took a vigorously anti-racist stance that, according to Scales, “differentiated us from everybody else, including the best liberals”. Scales was the first and only person to be convicted and jailed under the 1940 Smith Act for membership in a group purported to advocate violent overthrow of the government. By the late 1950s, Scales had disavowed communism after Khrushchev’s revelation of atrocities committed under Stalin. In October 1961, after 7 years of trials resolved in favor of the conviction by the U.S. Supreme Court, Scales began a 6- month sentence that was commuted by President Kennedy in December, 1962.

Junius Scales - On race in Chapel Hill and Carrboro in the 1930s and anti-racist organizing in the 1940s

Junius Scales - On race in Chapel Hill and Carrboro in the 1930s and anti-racist organizing in the 1940s

Audio recordings of interviews conducted by Yonni Chapman with participants in the African American freedom struggle and the civil rights movement in and around Chapel Hill, N.C.
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