Oliver Law was born in Galveston, Texas, in 1900. During World War I, Law served in the 24th Infantry as a corporal, which was the highest rank that a black person could achieve in the racist, segregated U.S. Army.
After serving in the army, he returned home to many low-paying laboring jobs. This served to boost his class consciousness and played a role in his decision to join the Communist Party by 1930, taking an active role in the fight against unemployment and depredations common at that time.
He also became an anti-fascist activist, working against Mussolini’s designs on the African continent in Ethiopia. To be a communist is to be a proletarian internationalist, and this drove him to enlist and join the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, which went overseas to fight fascism in Spain. He distinguished himself at the Battle of Jarama, earning promotions until he was battalion commander. This accomplishment made him the first black commander of white American combat troops.
He was killed in July 1937 while fighting against the fascist forces. His was a life dedicated and given to the people of the whole world.