Bob Johnston was many things–chemist, photographer, environmentalist, nature enthusiast, swimmer–and a political idealist. While in college he was introduced to the ideas of socialism and communism and he adopted an economic determinism philosophy and stood up for better conditions for poor and working people. He joined the American Communist Party (which did not advocate the violent overthrow of our government) and was active as an organizer and spokesperson on a number of different causes.
This mimeographed newsletter is a good example of the real issues that the American Communist Party worked on. They focused on Endicott-Johnson, a large shoe manufacturer because it hired so many people and discriminated against blacks, as well as keeping wages low for a largely immigrant work force. Bob and the entire Johnston Family was under surveillance by the FBI and NY State Police who helpfully archived this newsletter. Bob was arrested for handing out these newsletters at an EJ factory, subsequently losing his treasured job at Ansco, a photographic products company. However, his case ultimately affirmed the right of citizens to free speech, including leafleting, on public streets.