Junius Scales and Richard Nickson

Scales headshot
Junius Irving Scales (1920-2002) was born into a wealthy North Carolina family on March 26, 1920. He read omnivorously in his father’s enormous library in the family home, near Greensboro, North Carolina and, later, in the Intimate Bookshop in Chapel Hill, when the family moved to that university town. There he became acquainted with the leaders and thinkers of the Communist movement and decided to commit himself to battling injustice and inequality. He had grown up with deep respect for the Negro servants and staff at his home and never tolerated racial segregation. He befriended the President of Bennett College, the historically Black women’s college in Greensboro and frequented his wife’s salon. He joined the Communist Party on his 19th birthday, March 26, 1939.

Junius served in the United States armed forces during the war. When he returned to university, he found a changed party and a changed society. The Communist Party eventually came under attack from forces within the FBI and the Congress. Junius was on the most wanted list from 1951 until his arrest in 1954 and then was on trial with appeals and retrial and further appeals until 1961. The Supreme Court decided 5-4, upholding the lower court and so he went to prison. He served 15 months of a six-year sentence and was released by President Kennedy in 1962, but never pardoned.

Nickson headshot
Richard Nickson (1917-2012) became a life-long friend of Junius on the campus of UNC, Chapel Hill. A professor of English Literature at William Paterson in New Jersey, Nickson was president of the Bernard Shaw Society, editor of The Independent Shavian and poet, whose Staves: A Book of Songs has been rendered by composers and singers across the country. He wrote numerous documentaries but was most proud of helping Junius finally tell his story.


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