Biographical Dictionary of the Left, Volume 1

Francis X. Gannon

PETE SEEGER was born on May 3, 1919 in New York City, son of Constance Edson and Charles Seeger. He married Toshi Ohta. He attended Harvard University from 1936 until 1938.

After his brief stay at Harvard, Seeger worked for awhile as an assistant to the curator of the Archives of American Folk Songs in the Library of Congress. In 1940, he organized the Almanac Singers, whose folk-singing repertoire assiduously followed the Communist Party line.

After traveling with the Almanac Singers for about a year, Seeger joined Woody Guthrie, a veteran Communist and a folksinger whose name has been revered with memorials by Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall. Seeger and Guthrie — protégé and teacher — became prolific collaborators, writing folk songs with Communist messages. And, during World War II, Seeger sang on overseas broadcasts for the Office of War Information.

In 1945, Seeger became the national director of People's Songs, Inc. A few years later, the California Senate Fact-finding Committee reported "that People's Songs is a vital Communist front which has spawned a horde of lesser fronts in the fields of music, stage entertainment, choral singing, folk dancing, recording, radio transcriptions and similar fields. It especially is important to Communist proselyting and propaganda work because of its emphasis on appeal to youth and because of its organization and technique to provide entertainment for organizations and groups as a smooth opening wedge for Marxist-Leninist-Stalinist propaganda."

On August 18, 1955, Seeger appeared before the House Committee on Un-American Activities. He was asked about his activities in the Communist Party and with Communist fronts. Seeger declined to answer. On July 25, 1956, he was cited for contempt of Congress. On March 29, 1961, he was convicted on ten counts of contempt in a New York federal court. On May 18, 1962, his conviction was overturned on a technicality by the U.S. Court of Appeals. The HUAC never sought another indictment.

A few years ago U.S. Ambassador Chester Bowles welcomed Seeger to India as a "true representative of the United States of America." The "true representative," Seeger, has been affiliated — as an entertainer, member, sponsor, instructor, or contributor — with the American Peace Mobilization ("subversive and Communist"); American Youth Congress ("subversive and Communist"); the Communist Party; American Youth for Democracy ("subversive and Communist"); the Council on African Affairs ("subversive and Communist"); the American Committee for Yugoslav Relief ("subversive and Communist"); the National Council of American-Soviet Friendship ("subversive and Communist" - "specializing in pro-Soviet propaganda"); the Civil Rights Congress ("subversive and Communist"); the American Committee for Protection of Foreign Born [Americans] "subversive and Communist" - "one of the oldest auxiliaries of the Communist Party in the United States" - under the "complete domination" of the Communist Party); the Committee for a Democratic Far Eastern Policy ("Communist"); the National Council of the Arts, Sciences and Professions ("a Communist front used to appeal to special occupational groups"); the Nature Friends of America ("subversive and Communist"); the Jefferson School of Social Science ("adjunct of the Communist Party"); the Metropolitan Music School ("controlled by Communists"); Veterans Against Discrimination of Civil Rights Congress ("subversive and Communist"); New Masses ("Communist periodical"); Daily World ("Communist publication"); the Labor Youth League ("Communist organization"); California Labor School ("a subversive and Communist organization"); the National Lawyers Guild ("the foremost legal bulwark of the Communist Party, its front organizations, and controlled unions"); Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade ("subversive and Communist"); the Committee for the First Amendment ("Communist front"); the American Peace Crusade ("Communist front"); the Emergency Civil Liberties Committee ("Communist front" - "subversive"); and, the National Committee to Abolish the House Un-American Activities Committee ("to lead and direct the Communist Party's 'Operation Abolition' campaign").

Seeger has participated in fund-raising benefits for the Communist Party and for individual Communists. He has participated in many May Day Parades run by the Communists. He has traveled extensively throughout the world (The Worker has described him as an "Ambassador with a Guitar"). He has been a favorite in Communist countries where his anti-American ditties are very popular. He has appeared on many concert stages and at folk singing festivals, privately and/or publicly sponsored. He is a familiar entertainer on university and college campuses, at high schools, and at church gatherings. In recent years, he has brought his anti-American, pro-Communist line to all sorts of peacenik gatherings. He has appeared in motion pictures, on radio and television programs, in night clubs and theaters, and on recordings made for Decca, Folkways, and Columbia. His most enduring fame, however, may come from the fact that he is one of the lyricists for the racial agitators' anthem "We Shall Overcome."

For many years, Seeger was excluded from television appearances on major networks. But he is now a familiar sight on programs carried by the Columbia Broadcasting System and his indefatigable propagandizing of the Communist line receives rave reviews from the left-wing and liberal press.

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