Accuracy in Media has an in-depth profile of a leftist who influenced Obama during his high school years. In an article entitled, "Obama's Communist Mentor," Cliff Kincaid identifies a member of the Communist Party USA, who has been influential in Obama's life and education, Frank Marshall Davis, who was a communist -- and born in Kansas.
Obama had an admitted relationship with someone who was publicly identified as a member of the Communist Party USA (CPUSA). The record shows that Obama was in Hawaii from 1971-1979, where, at some point in time, he developed a close relationship, almost like a son, with Davis, listening to his "poetry" and getting advice on his career path. But Obama, in his book, "Dreams From My Father," refers to him repeatedly as just "Frank." Frank is the black communist writer now considered by some to be in the same category of prominence as Maya Angelou and Alice Walker.
According to an interview with Dawn Weatherly-Williams, Obama returned to Hawaii in the fall of 1970 to attend Punahou School. He first met Frank Marshall Davis after he took the entrance exams.
Davis moved to Honolulu from Chicago in 1948 with his second wife Helen Canfield, a white socialite, at the suggestion of his friend the actor Paul Robeson, who advised them that there would be more tolerance of a mixed race couple in Hawaii than on the American mainland. Robeson, of course, was the well-known black actor and singer who served as a member of the CPUSA and apologist for the old Soviet Union. Davis had known Robeson from his time in Chicago.
The 1951 report of the Commission on Subversive Activities to the Legislature of the Territory of Hawaii identified him as a CPUSA member. What's more, anti-communist congressional committees, including the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), accused Davis of involvement in several communist-front organizations.
In his book, Obama writes about "a poet named Frank," who visited his family in Hawaii, read poetry, and was full of "hard-earned knowledge" and advice. Who was Frank? Obama only says that he had "some modest notoriety once," was "a contemporary of Richard Wright and Langston Hughes during his years in Chicago..." but was now "pushing eighty." He writes about "Frank and his old Black Power dashiki self" giving him advice before he left for Occidental College in 1979 at the age of 18.
Davis wrote, "The genuine Communists I knew as well as others so labeled had one principle in common: to use any and every means to abolish racism." Davis said he wrote to give "the widest possible publicity to the many instances of racism and the dissatisfaction of Afro-American with the status quo."
Obama quoted him as saying: "Leaving your race at the door. Leaving your people behind. Understand something, boy. You’re not going to college to get educated. You’re going there to get trained."
He added, "they’ll tank on your chain and let you know that you may be a well-trained, well-paid nigger, but you’re a nigger just the same."
Is it possible that Obama did not know who Davis was when he wrote his book? That's not plausible, since Obama refers to him as a contemporary of Richard Wright and Langston Hughes and says he saw a book of his black poetry.
But why? What does Obama have to say about this curious omission? Could it have something to do with the fact that, by the time Obama wrote his book, he knew that Davis was a Communist? And that he deliberately covered this up? Or did he know it earlier?
This is the key question: What did Obama know and when did he know it?
Which of course raises the disturbing questions that must be asked:
Did Davis recruit Obama?
Professor Gerald Horne, a history professor at the University of Houston, noted that Davis, came into contact with Barack Obama and his family and became the young man's mentor, influencing Obama's sense of identity and career moves.
As Horne describes it, Davis, who wrote the memoir, "Living the Blues," had "befriended" a "Euro-American family" that had "migrated to Honolulu from Kansas and a young woman from this family eventually had a child with a young student from Kenya East Africa who goes by the name of Barack Obama, who retracing the steps of Davis eventually decamped to Chicago."
Dr. Kathryn Takara, a professor of Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of Hawaii at Manoa who also confirms that Davis is the "Frank" in Obama’s book, did her dissertation on Davis and spent much time with him between 1972 until he passed away in 1987.
In an analysis posted online, she notes that Davis, who was a columnist for the Honolulu Record, brought "an acute sense of race relations and class struggle throughout America and the world" and that he openly discussed subjects such as American imperialism, colonialism and exploitation. She described him as a "socialist realist" who attacked the work of the House Un-American Activities Committee.
Davis, in his own writings, had said that Robeson and Harry Bridges, the head of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and a secret member of the CPUSA, had suggested that he take a job as a columnist with the Honolulu Record "and see if I could do something for them." The ILWU was organizing workers there and Robeson’s contacts were "passed on" to Davis, Takara writes.
Takara says that Davis "espoused freedom, radicalism, solidarity, labor unions, due process, peace, affirmative action, civil rights, Negro History week, and true Democracy to fight imperialism, colonialism, and white supremacy. He urged coalition politics."
Poems from Davis are in the book "Black Moods" which was edited by John Tidwell, a University of Kansas professor and expert on Davis' writings. He confirmed to Kincaid that Davis joined the Communist Party but that he publicly tried to deny his affiliations.
Asked why Takara thought Obama didn't identify Frank in his book by his full name, she replied, "Maybe, he didn't want people delving into it."
Stanley Dunham, Obama's grandfather, was friends with Davis, a bohemian libertine who drank heavily and loved jazz -- both had roots reaching back to Kansas and had families of mixed races -- and the black writer took an interest in Obama.
"Our grandfather ... thought (Frank) was a point of connection, a bridge if you will, to the larger African-American experience for my brother," Maya Soetoro-Ng, Obama's half-sister, said during a recent interview.
For Obama, Davis was an intriguing figure, "with his books and whiskey breath and the hint of hard-earned knowledge behind the hooded eyes."
Dunham and his grandson would spend evenings at Davis's dilapidated home in Waikiki, Honolulu's main tourist district. Davis, who had raised a family with a white wife, would read his poetry and share whiskey with Dunham, Obama recalled.
Dawna Weatherly-Williams, a friend of Davis' who also lives in Honolulu, said Dunham wanted Obama to know that there were other children like him who were part black and part white, she said.
"Stan was real proud of that," she said, adding that it was rare to see black men with white women at the time.
"He knew Stan real well. They’d play Scrabble and drink and crack jokes and argue. Frank always won and he was always very braggadocio about it too. It was all jocular. They didn’t get polluted drunk. And Frank never really did drugs, though he and Stan would smoke pot together."
"Stan had been promising to bring Barry by because we all had that in common. Frank’s kids were half-white, Stan’s grandson was half-black and my son was half-black. We all had that in common and we all really enjoyed it. We got a real kick out of reality."
Maya Soetoro-Ng, Obama's half-sister, told the Associated Press recently that her grandfather had seen Davis was "a point of connection, a bridge if you will, to the larger African-American experience for my brother"
According to Miss Weatherly-Williams, Davis lost touch with Dunham some time in the 1980s.
Obama describes driving to Davis' home in Waikiki after learning that his white grandmother was so afraid of a black panhandler she did not want to take the bus to work. Davis told the teenager that his grandmother was correct to feel scared because she understood African-Americans "have a reason to hate."
Davis said Obama's grandfather would never understand people like him because they hadn't experienced the humiliations he had, according to Obama's memoir. As he left Davis's house that night, Obama wrote, he knew he was completely alone for the first time in his life.
Davis appears again later in the book, when Obama recalls meeting the writer shortly before leaving for college on the mainland. At that meeting, Davis scolded Obama for his listless attitude toward college and warned him not to leave his race behind, which he called "the real price of admission" to higher education.
"Leaving your race at the door. Leaving your people behind…. You're not going to college to get educated. You're going to get trained…. They'll train you to forget what you already know. They'll train you so good, you'll start believing what they tell you about equal opportunity and the American way and all that s**t." And then Frank pronounces the modern version of the one key concept which the Democratic Party, under slavery, segregation, and civil rights, has sought to ingrain in the mind of every black person: "You may be a well-trained, well-paid nigger, but you're a nigger just the same."
A few days later Obama left Hawaii for Occidental College in Los Angeles.