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Frank Marshall Davis

Frank Marshall Davis (1905-1987) was a black poet and writer (he wrote for the Honolulu Record, a Communist newspaper), and a known member of the Soviet-controlled Communist Party USA (CPUSA).

In 1950 Edward Berman, a member of the NAACP’s Honolulu branch, testified to the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) that Davis had “sneaked” into local NAACP meetings to “propagandize” the organization’s members about America’s “racial problems,” with “the avowed intent and purpose of converting it into a front for the Stalinist line.”

Davis was identified unequivocally as a CPUSA member in a 1951 report of the Commission on Subversive Activities to the Legislature of the Territory of Hawaii (CSALTH), which, along with HUAC, also charged that Davis was affiliated with a number of communist-front organizations. According to Max Friedman, a former undercover member of several Communist-controlled “anti-war” groups, Davis testified in 1956 before the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee and took the Fifth Amendment when asked about his Communist Party membership.

In the 1970s Davis met a teenage Barack Obama and his family, who also lived in Hawaii. Davis soon became the young man's mentor and advisor.

In his 1995 book, Dreams From My Father, Obama writes about Davis but does not reveal the latter’s full name, identifying him only as "a poet named Frank" -- a man with much "hard-earned knowledge" who had known "some modest notoriety once" and was "a contemporary of Richard Wright and Langston Hughes during his years in Chicago," but was now "pushing eighty." (Several sources -- including Professor Gerald Horne, Dr. Kathryn Takara, and libertarian writer Trevor Loudon -- have confirmed that Obama’s “Frank” was indeed Frank Marshall Davis.)

Obama in his book recounts how, just prior to heading off to Occidental College in 1979, he spent some time with "Frank and his old Black Power dashiki self." Says Obama, "Frank" told him that college was merely "an advanced degree in compromise," and cautioned him not to "start believing what they tell you about equal opportunity and the American way and all that sh--."

To view a comprehensive profile and some supplemental resources about Frank Marshall Davis, click here.


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