Josephine D. Butler

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Josephine Dorothy Butler born 1920, died 1997 was among the hardcore communist activists in Washington, D.C. for decades. Her key affiliations were with the Communist Party USA , but she supported other marxist organizations and their fronts/demonstrations.

Activist life

Josephine D. Butler was a founder and former chairman of the D.C. Statehood Party and a community activist whose interests included the conditions of the District's parks, world peace, the union movement and the welfare of children, died March 29 at Medlink Hospital in Washington. She had heart ailments and diabetes.

Mrs. Butler was a former member of the Mayor's Health Planning Advisory Committee, the D.C. Human Rights Commission and the D.C. Coordinating Committee for the International Women's Year. In the 1970s, she twice ran for the D.C. Council as a candidate of the Statehood Party.

Among the many positions she held was that of co-chairman of Friends of Meridian Hill, a group dedicated to turning Meridian Hill Park in Northwest Washington, once a crime-ridden eyesore, into a place of beauty and serenity.

In 1994, she introduced President Clinton when he gave an Earth Day speech at the park, and she took the opportunity to tell about the role of earthworms in the health of plants and all living things. It was a story she often told to children.

The president responded by praising the Friends of Meridian Hill as a "shining example for the nation" of what community activism can accomplish. At a White House ceremony, he gave Mrs. Butler the National Partnership-Leadership Award.

In 1995, Mrs. Butler organized a parade of 4,000 people from her Adams-Morgan neighborhood to the Capitol, where she addressed a crowd estimated at 250,000 people who had gathered to mark the 25th anniversary of Earth Day.

As a young woman just arrived in the District from the Brandywine area of Prince George's County, Mrs. Butler went to work for a laundry. She became interested in the union movement and took the lead in organizing laundry employees in the Washington area.

In the 1950s, when she worked in a government cafeteria, she opposed a move by union officials to raise dues of part-time workers, whose hours were as long as those of full-time workers but whose pay and benefits were less.

In the 1960s and 1970s, when she was an educational program director for the D.C. Lung Association, Mrs. Butler organized the association's workers for the Office and Professional Employees International Union. She was elected a delegate to the Greater Washington Central Labor Council AFL-CIO.

Mrs. Butler was a founder of the D.C. chapter of the Paul Robeson Friendship Society, named after the African American singer and peace activist, and the World Peace Council Peace. In 1978, she helped organize the council's first meeting in the United States in its 30-year existence. In connection with the peace movement, she visited the former Soviet Union, Greece and Grenada.

In the 1950s, Mrs. Butler took a leading role in combining the Adams and Morgan public elementary schools in Washington. Although she had no children, she was chairman of a residents group at Morgan, which served African American children in the days of school segregation. Adams was a school for white children. After the U.S. Supreme Court's desegregation decision in Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, Morgan and Adams were joined. The new school -- and the neighborhood around it -- were called Adams-Morgan.

In 1971, Mrs. Butler was a founder of the D.C. Statehood Party. Formerly a Democrat, she was appalled by the police violence at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. She was ready for a change when the idea for a new party in the District first came under discussion.

She was a close associate of the late Julius Hobson, Sr., a noted activist of the period, when he was elected to the D.C. Council on the Statehood ticket. [KW comment: Hobson Sr, was an avowed hardcore Marxist, along with his wife, Tina Hobson.]

Mrs. Butler was born Jan. 24, 1920, in what was known as the Poplar Hill section of Brandywine. She was raised on a tobacco farm, where her father was a sharecropper. She attended Frederick Douglass High School in Upper Marlboro. She later received a high school equivalency diploma and attended Strayer College.

She moved to Washington in 1934, lied about her age and went to work for a laundry.

In an interview in 1978 with the Rock Creek Monitor, she said one of the important events of her life was attending a meeting in the late 1930s that was addressed by Robeson and Henry A. Wallace, a secretary of agriculture and vice president under President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

On hearing them speak of peace and justice, she said, she "realized that was my whole world. It was like an awakening of something that was dormant."

During World War II, Mrs. Butler was a clerk in the Veterans Administration. In 1949, she said, she was blacklisted from government employment, apparently because of what were regarded as her leftist associations. She later worked in government cafeterias and as a bartender.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Mrs. Butler was incapacitated with tuberculosis. When she recovered, she became a volunteer with the D.C. Lung Association. She was soon hired to design programs to teach schoolchildren about air pollution and related matters. She retired about 1980.

Her marriage to Jack Brown ended in divorce, and she later took the name of Butler.[1]

National Alliance Against Racism and Political Repression

From the CPUSA newspaper the Daily World, May 30, 1974, p. 2, "Chavis to speak in D.C. Saturday".

Washington,, May 29. Benjamin Chavis, treasurer of the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (NAARPR), has been added to the list of notables who will address the opening of the Cabral-Tubman Center for Marxist-Leninist Education here Saturday.

Jarvis Tyner, national chairman of the Young Workers Liberation League, will be the featured speaker. The list also includes:

Palestine Human Rights Campaign

A brochure came out in early 1978 announcing "A National Organizing Conference" sponsored by the Palestine Human Rights Campaign to be held on May 20-21, 1978, at American University, with the theme of "Palestinian Human Rights and Peace".

The list of "Sponsors" was a mix of a several groupings including the Communist Party USA and its sympathizers, the World Peace Council, the Hanoi Lobby, black extremists, mainly marxists, radical Christians, and Arab/Arab-American organizations, plus a few phone-booth sized pro-Palestinian Christian groups.

Individual sponsors of the event included Josephine D. Butler, DC Statehood Party.

All-Peoples Congress National Advisory Board

In 1983, the Workers World Party influenced All-Peoples Congress' National Advisory Board, included;

Communist fronts, causes, and related organizations affiliations

"In memory" notice in the CPUSA's People's Weekly World of April 26, 1997, Page 17, said the following:

"In memory of a staunch advocate of International Solidarity in the Class Struggle for Peace, Freedom and Socialism" - Josephine D. Butler

(from) DC Comrades and Friends of Jo Butler

World Peace Council

Butler was a participant and planner of the World Peace Council Bureau meeting in Washington, D.C. from Jan. 25-27, 1978. This meeting was a WPC/KGB lobbying effort to promote "disarmament" on Capitol Hill and to meet/participate with leftist congressmen in pushing the Soviet agenda. This included the totally communist-dominated affair known as the "Dialogue on Disarmament and Detente."

"This conference was sponsored by a small ad hoc committee whose members and endorsers were listed as including" various members of the CPUSA and its fronts, including:

  • Josephine D. Butler, chairperson of the D.C. Statehood Party, who coordinated arrangements and presided over some sessions and is the head of the local (Paul Robeson Friendship Society) which supports East Germany[3]

New American Movement 10th convention

In 1981 Jo Butler, Chair, Baltimore NAM and Steve Askin, DC NAM led a workshop entitled Race and Class in Urban Electoral Politics at the 10th Convention of the New American Movement. The convention was held in a union headquarters in Chicago and ran from July 29 - August 2, 1981.[4]


  1. WaPO
  2. All-Peoples Congress press release, 1983
  3. all the above re the WPC Bureau meeting came from The War Called Peace: The Soviet Peace Offensive, Western Goals, 1982, Page 22
  4. NAM 10th Convention Agenda, July 29, 1981