League of Young Southerners

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The League of Young Southerners (LYS), initially the Council of Young Southerners (CYS), was a political organization of young men which grew out of the Southern Conference for Human Welfare and in parallel with the Southern Negro Youth Congress.

The group was founded by Birmingham attorney Helen Fuller and Arkansas activist Howard Lee and established executive offices in Nashville, Tennessee in the summer of 1939. The group's initial focus was advocating for youth work programs, vocational education, and federal loans for economic development activities with an emphasis on farming.

Under the leadership of Tex Dobbs the group relocated to Birmingham in early 1940 and entered into an affiliation with the American Youth Congress and began taking on other left-wing positions such as opposing the poll tax, opposing police brutality, and advancing civil liberties. Dobbs' new bride Polly became a leader in the group. Ordway and Mary Southard were also active in the group, which was soon joined by Marge Gelders and her new husband, Laurent Frantz. 19-year-old Sidney Rittenburg succeeded Dobbs as executive secretary in 1941. The group was very active, but not very influential, and did not grow beyond its core membership. It became a supporting organization for the more powerful SNYC before fading away in the wake of World War II.

Although many of those active in the LYS also had Communist Party connections, the organization itself was never formally affiliated with the party. Nevertheless, like other left-wing groups associated with the ideological foundations of the New Deal and the Civil Rights Movement, the then-defunct LYS was branded as a "Communist Front" in hearings before the United States House Committee on Un-American Activities.