University Library News
Georgia State University

Hell in Georgia for Angelo Herndon, Communist Organizer.

Angelo Herndon arrived in Atlanta, Georgia, in1932. Only 19 years old, he came to Atlanta as a member of the Communist party, looking to organize out-of-work Georgians and help them demonstrate against the Fulton County government which had recently revoked relief payments and proclaimed that there was no starvation in Georgia. He was arrested several months after his arrival for the charges of attempting to incite insurrection. Not only was he connected to the recent demonstrations, but  detectives had found Communist literature among his possessions.

Herndon’s incarceration and legal troubles were initially publicized in Hell in Georgia (1937), a booklet published by the International Labor Defense, the legal arm of the Communist party. After years of being in and out of jail, his case was finally overturned  by the U. S. Supreme Court in 1937. While still committed to progressive causes, he maintained a low profile after 1940 and went on to found the Negro Publication Society of America.

Both Hell in Georgia and The Scottsboro Boys (written by Herndon, 1937) are part of the holdings in Special Collections and Archives at Georgia State University Library. In addition, the GSU Library’s general collection holds several volumes related to the life and work of Herndon, including:

Let me live, Angelo Herndon, 1969 (reprint).

The Angelo Herndon case and southern justice, Charles Martin, 1976.

Critical race theory: the key writings that formed the movement, Kimberlé Crenshaw, 1995.

The Special Collections and Archives department of Georgia State University Library is located on the 8th floor of Library South. For more information about our holdings, please contact us at 404.413.2880 or at