Drawing together members of the American Communist Party and a variety of non‐Communist progressives in the common cause of racial equality, labor rights, and antifascism, the National Negro Congress represented a visible example of the Popular Front (1935/1936 – 39) in action. This article explores how a Popular Front alliance came into being by tracing the events of 1935 that led Communists to eschew their prior sectarianism and non‐Communists to recognize the value of collaboration with their now‐former rivals. It also contends that contrary to what some recent scholarship argues, from the outset the Communist influence on the NNC's formation and operation was considerable — even decisive — and that after the signing of the 1939 Hitler‐Stalin Pact, the party's new antiwar stance and its numerical dominance at the NNC's third conference in 1940 led to the collapse of the Popular Front alliance. Understanding the rise and fall of the NNC as a progressive coalition requires a critical evaluation of the role of the Communist Party in the NNC's accomplishments and failures.

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