Alphaeus Hunton (September 18, 1903-January 13, 1970) was an intellectual and organizational architect of what is now called the “long civil rights revolution.” Hunton was the executive director of the Council on African Affairs (CAA) and editor of the CAA’s publication, New Africa and Spotlight on Africa. From 1943, until the organization’s dissolution in 1955, Hunton – like his co-workers and friends W.E.B. Du Bois and Paul Robeson – articulated an anticolonial critique of post-war liberalism and racial capitalism that advanced a vision of Pan-African Black identity stressing the inextricable linkage between African Americans, Africans, and colonized peoples around the world.
Hunton was born in Atlanta in 1903. His family migrated to Brooklyn after the Atlanta race riot of 1906. He graduated from Howard University in 1924, earned a master’s degree in Victorian literature from Harvard in 1925, and studied for a doctorate at New York University from 1934-1938. Hunton’s political voice began to emerge during his professorship at Howard. Attracted to Marxism-Leninism, he was involved in organizing Howard’s faculty into the American Federation of Teachers. He joined the Communist Party in 1936 and served on the executive board of the National Negro Congress.