NYU Black Renaissance Noire NYU Black Renaissance Noire V. 16.1 - Page 40

Loren Miller and two other lawyers, one white, Grover Johnson, and one black, Curtis Taylor, stepped forward to represent George Farley. Grover Johnson, a labor lawyer, member of the ild [International Labor Defense], and a law partner of Leo Gallagher and A.L. Wirin, was well-known in radical circles. Curtis Taylor, a 1926 graduate of Howard Law School and a member of the California Bar since 1927, was an experienced criminal lawyer. 19 38 Miller undertook the case, despite his health. In early March, Miller had written an inquirer: “As for me: I am ill. Have been ordered to either take complete rest or work a half-day and drop all outside activity. Must withdraw for 90 days or so from all political work.” 20 Miller was still active in the Party. He remained an editor of New Masses, which supported the Moscow trials. His fbi file indicated the Daily Worker listed him as a contributor to that paper. His wife was one of the sponsors of a dance to raise funds for the Medical Bureau of the North American Committee to Aid Spanish Democracy. 21 Miller was in the process, however, of a transition into the mainstream of the nation’s political life. In January 1938, The Crisis had published an article by Miller, entitled “Hollywood’s New Negro Films.” In the article he had noted a new trend in Hollywood of films produced by black filmmakers for a black audience. While this was a promising development, Miller felt it was too early to predict where the trend would lead. “The pictures are showing gratifying technical improvement,” he wrote, “but announcements of future films include almost nothing to indicate that producers are ready or planning to accept the social responsibility that became theirs, when they went into the business of making pictures. Crass commercialism is far too evident.” 22 In April, Miller and his wife became active in the naacp, with Loren serving on the legal committee, while Juanita joined the program committee. In June, Richard Wright, after publication of his short story collection, Uncle Tom’s Children, joined Miller as a contributing editor on New Masses. Miller left New Masses at the end of September 1938, with Wright remaining as the sole African American editor. 23 In March, Farley was bound over for trial on murder charges. At Farley’s preliminary hearing, there was evidence he had written President Roosevelt for help right before the homicides. A committee was formed to raise funds for his defense. Over 300 people attended a public meeting at the 28th Street ymca to organize a fundraising committee called The Farley Defense Committee. Mrs. Bass became secretary, while nnc [National Negro Congress] members, such as Lillian Jones, also played a role. The Farley Defense Committee held mass meetings throughout March and April to raise funds for the trial. 24 In early May, Farley’s trial began. The courtroom was filled to capacity with an interracial audience, while 75 to 100 more lined up outside, hoping for a seat. During jury selection, the defense indicated it would prove the defendant had no intent and was temporarily insane, when he killed the two deputies. It also indicated Farley, who sat forlornly in the courtroom with his head bowed, had a social disease and other ailments, in addition to the five gunshot wounds he had suffered, during his arrest. After several days, during which the three defense attorneys questioned prospective jurors on their racial attitudes, an all-white jury of seven men and five women was impaneled. The judge sequestered the jury 25