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Concern about Communists in education was a central preoccupation in the U.S. through the middle decades of the twentieth century. Focusing on post-secondary and adult education and on fields related to composition and rhetoric, this essay offers an overview of the surprisingly diverse contexts in which Communist educators worked. Some who taught in Communist- sponsored "separatist" institutions pioneered the kinds of radical pedagogical theories now most often attributed to Paulo Freire. Communist educators who taught in "mainstream" institutions, however, less often saw their pedagogy as a mode of political action; their activism was deployed mainly in civic life rather than the classroom. Awareness of this complex history may help current educators appreciate a wider range of possibilities for thinking about the relationships between politics, pedagogy, and professionalism.