Lewis, Abe. b. February 12, 1906, Ferrides, Louisiana; African American; father Charles Lewis, mother Mary Lewis; Grade school education; No prior military service; Single; Cook and Tailor; CP June 1930; Received Passport# 6397 New York series on March 19, 1937 which listed his address as 1524 Prospect Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio (5810 Thackary Street, Cleveland, Ohio); Sailed March 27, 1937 aboard the Paris; Arrived in Spain on April 14, 1937; Served with the IB Commissary (QM) Services; XV BDE Headquarters, Adjutant Commissar; Injured in a truck crash, stomach, hospital in San Sebastian, Barcelona 2 months; Returned to the US on February 4, 1939 aboard the President Harding; WWII civilian; d. 1948.Photograph: Abraham Lewis, Brigade Commissariat, December 1937. The 15th International Brigade Photographic Unit Photograph Collection; ALBA Photo 11; ALBA Photo number 11-0955. Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives. Elmer Holmes Bobst Library, 70 Washington Square South, New York, NY 10012, New York University Libraries.
Biography: Abraham Lewis was born in Louisiana to a family of sharecroppers in 1905. At the age of seventeen, he ran away from home living first in Arkansas, later in St. Louis, Missouri, and finally settling in Ohio where he was employed in a laundry worker and as a cook. In 1930, Lewis joined the Communist Party and became a leader in the Future Outlook League, a local African-American community organization. He contributed articles to black community newspapers and was active in the Scottsboro Defense Campaign, the NAACP, and other organizations. He achieved local notoriety when he forced Cleveland's St. Luke's Hospital to perform surgery on him. Lewis departed for France aboard the Paris on March 27, 1937. Among the highest-ranking African-American volunteers, Lewis initially served in the transport service and was rapidly promoted to Brigade Quartermaster for the XVth Brigade. Four months after his promotion he was made an assistant to the Brigade's Commissar Dave Doran. In January 1938, Lewis was injured in a truck accident, an injury requiring surgery and effectively ending his front-line service. After recovering, Lewis was attached to the Headquarters of the International Brigades in Albacete where he served in the Commissariat Department and was responsible for personnel. Here his job was to approve all reports and evaluations of U.S. volunteers in Spain. Lewis was among the last Internationals to leave Spain, returning on the President Harding, on February 4, 1939. Lewis resumed his community activities in Cleveland until his death in 1948. ~ Chris Brooks
Sources: Sail; Scope of Soviet Activity; Cadre; RGASPI Fond 545, Opis 2, Delo 75a, consists of reports written by Lewis on Commissars in the XV BDE; Opis 6, Delo 934, ll. 11-40; African Americans. Box 2, Folder 23, 177_197042 [List of Names] Moscow Fond 545, Opis 5, Delo 197, ll. 42, Oct. 1938. This is a page from Folder 197: Album of 15th International Brigade Presented to the American Communist Volunteers of the 15th Brigade by the Communist Party of Spain. On a two page spread entitle Declaration of the American Negro Comrades eighteen individuals signed the second page. Code A