Early life and education
Pappademos was born into a poor working-class family in St. Louis. During the Depression, his parents were unable to care for Pappademos and his brother, and the children were put in orphanages. A member of the Communist Party, Jim Moore, provided the support that made it possible for the family to be reunited.
When Pappademos was 16, Moore arranged for him to attend Harris Teachers College. From there, he went to the University of Iowa, which he attended while serving in the Naval Reserve. In 1951, Pappademos earned his master’s degree from Washington University, where he participated in a campus desegregation campaign. In 1964, he received his doctorate in physics from the University of Chicago.
During the 1950s and later, Pappademos and his wife, Ella Pappademos, and their interracial family faced racist and anticommunist harassment. Nevertheless, Pappademos secured a job teaching at the University of Illinois in Chicago (UIC).
At UIC, Pappademos was involved in attempts to organize the faculty into a union. He was also active in the fight against the Vietnam War, serving as the national chair of Scientists Against the Vietnam War.
Pappademos frequently wrote articles on science for Political Affairs, the Communist Party USA’s theoretical journal, as well as writing for Marxist and non-Marxist scholarly journals. From 1988-2001, he was a referee for the American Journal of Physics.
GI Civil Liberties Defense Committee
"A letter to Congress" on North Korea
In 1974, approximately 50 prominent, mainly Communist Party USA aligned leftists, signed a "Letter to Congress" on the situation regarding North Korea.
- "For a quarter of a century the people of all Korea have needed such a peace agreement. The American People are ready for it. The People of the world deserve it. Peaceful coexistence must replace war and the threat of war. Negotiations must replace confrontation."
- "Therefore, we the undersigned, concerned about the dangerous conditions in Korea earnestly appeal to you, and to all peace-minded Americans to join together in combining our reason and our political influence to secure the peaceful resolution of this problem."
The letter to Congress was in response to a March 25th, 1974 letter from the Supreme Peoples Assembly of the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea to the United States Congress.
Illinois Communist Party
In 1976 John Pappademos was nominated as a candidate for the Illinois Communist Party USA as an elector for the Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates of the Communist Party USA, Gus Hall and Jarvis Tyner.
Harold Washington for Mayor of Chicago
Circa late 1982, members of the Citizens Committee/Harold Washington for Mayor of Chicago (in formation) included John Pappademos.
Committee of Correspondence connection
Communist Party Labor Day call
Of the more than 100 endorsers listed, almost all were identified members of the Communist Party USA.
Birthday Greetings to William "Red" Davis
- In the fight for the unity and integrity of the Party in St. Louis, Missouri, in the post-war years, "Red" has been a rock of confidence and commitment to building the Communist Party.
Friends of the Peoples Weekly World
The Communist Party USA's Peoples Weekly World 1997 May Day Supplement listed several St. Louis Friends of the Peoples Weekly World. they were Lew Moye, Melanie Shouse, Jay Ozier, Zenobia Thompson, E. E. W. Clay, Luther Mitchell, Susan Davis, Jim Wilkerson, John Pappademos, Nafisa Kabir, William (Red) Davis.
Missouri state organizer
CPUSA Missouri/Kansas District Executive Board
In 2007, members of the Communist Party's Missouri/Kansas District Executive Board were;
- Jim Wilkerson
- Zenobia Thompson
- John Pappademos
- Glenn Burleigh
- Margarida Jorge
- Quincy Boyd
- Tony Pecinovsky
One of Pappademos’ areas of scholarly interest was the African origins of math and science. His paper, “An Outline of Africa’s Role in the History of Physics,” was published in Ivan Van Sertima’s seminal anthology, “Blacks in Science: Ancient and Modern.” He was also a contributor to the Journal of African Civilizations.
After his retirement from UIC, Pappademos and his wife moved to Nevada. He took a retirement job as customer service representative for an airline and participated in a drive to organize his co-workers into a union. He also was a regular distributor of the People’s Weekly World and wrote many articles for it.
Later Pappademos and his wife returned to St. Louis, where he served on the board of the Missouri/Kansas District of the Communist Party in addition to being on the party’s national committee. In May 2005, he was honored at the Missouri/Kansas Friends of the People’s Weekly World annual awards breakfast, where he received a standing ovation. He had just celebrated his 55th year in the Communist Party.
- Undated, GI Civil Liberties Defense Committee letterhead circa 1969
- Letter to Congress undated 1974 Hugh DeLacy papers Accession Number 3915 Box Number 9 Folder Number 2
- 1976 Communist Party Electoral Petition.
- Undated circa late 1982, HWAC Mayoral Campaign Records, Box 5, Folder 1
- Chicago CoC "Membership, Subscription and Mailing List" 10.14.94
- People's Weekly World Sep 2 1995 p 14
- Peoples Weekly World December 9, 1995 page 19
- PWW May 10, 1997, page 2
- [People's Weekly World, April 28 2007, page 4]