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Sun, 05.10.1885

Chris Braithwaite, Union Activist born

Chris Braithwaite

*The birth of Chris Braithwaite in 1885 is marked on this date.  He was an Afro Caribbean union activist in the Colonial Seamen's Association.  

Braithwaite is also known as Chris Jones, was born in Barbados; he went to sea with the British Merchant Navy as a teenager and traveled the world as a sailor. He settled in Chicago before rejoining the Merchant Navy during World War I.  After World War I, he lived in New York City before settling in London, working for the Shipping Federation. He married a white woman, Edna, from Stepney, where they lived.  

In 1930, Braithwaite became a member of the National Union of Seamen and joined the Seamen's Minority Movement, a rank-and-file group organized by the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB). Taking the pseudonym "Chris Jones" to avoid victimization by his employer, Braithwaite helped distribute the Negro Worker, and Arnold Ward helped launch the Negro Welfare Association, publicizing the case of the Scottsboro Boys.

In 1933 he followed George Padmore in resigning from the CPGB in protest of the implicit shift away from anti-imperialism involved with the emerging "Popular Front" strategy.  In 1935, opposing the new British Shipping (Assistance) Act of 1935, Braithwaite founded the Colonial Seamen's Association which included Asian seamen alongside other Black colonial seamen.  He became organizing secretary of the International African Service Bureau (IASB), established in May 1937, whose members included Padmore, C. L. R. JamesJomo KenyattaAmy Ashwood Garvey, and I. T. A. Wallace-Johnson.

Braithwaite wrote a monthly column, "Seamen's Notes", for the IASB journal, International African Opinion. Braithwaite, Padmore and James continued to oppose the CPGB, turning up together to heckle CPGB meetings. Braithwaite and Padmore worked with the Independent Labor Party (ILP).  Chris Braithwaite died from pneumonia on September 9, 1944.  

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