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Oliver Law

Oliver Law (1899-July 9, 1937) was an African American communist, labor organizer and social activist, who fought in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade in the Spanish Civil War.

Born in Texas, he served in the army in World War I, then moved to Chicago, where he worked at various jobs. He joined the Communist Party in 1929, during the Great Depression, and became a prominent activist.

Strongly opposed to fascism, he led demonstrations against Italy's occupation of Ethiopia, and in 1936 he travelled to Spain to join the forces fighting against Francisco Franco and the Nationalists. An outstanding soldier with considerable military experience, he served in a machine gun company and soon became the commander of the battalion. It was the first time that an African American commanded white American troops. He was killed in action in 1937.

Shortly after his death, it was suggested that he was killed by his own troops, who opposed having an African American officer. According to the testimony of his own men, however, he was killed by enemy fire.

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