David Beasley at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site

  • Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site 450 Auburn Ave NE Atlanta, GA 30312

A Life in Red

A Life in Red reveals the true story of star-crossed lovers Herbert Newton, a black communist seeking the end of an oppressive America, and Jane Newton, the white daughter of a wealthy American Legion commander, and their part in the Depression-Era, communist fight for a black sovereign nation.

Readers will be introduced to a largely ignored piece of civil rights history that unfolded a quarter century before the mass protests that began in the 1950s. The Newtons’ love story underscores the fraught times of a segregated and flailing country, while David Beasley’s account of the movement’s history creates a full and layered backdrop. Including the attempt to unionize Southern workers, the trial of the Atlanta Six, and other major turning points, the book explores communists’ endeavor to utilize the black community’s anger and oppression to fuel a deflated movement on American soil.

Readers will experience a detailed picture of the friendship between the Newtons and Richard Wright, who wrote Native Son while living with the couple and struggling to find an identity outside of the communist party in New York City. In addition, A Life in Red covers the sanity trials Jane Newton underwent simply for being white, promoting communism, and marrying a black man; delves into The Scottsboro Trial as a crucial foundation for the communist movement’s relationship with the African American community; and describes the intimate lives of both black and white communist members of the era trained in the United States and Russia.

For more information, contact:

Georgia Center for the Book
Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site
450 Auburn Ave NE
Atlanta, GA 30312