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Selma to SaigonThe Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War$
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Daniel S. Lucks

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780813145075

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813145075.001.0001

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The Cold War and the Long Civil Rights Movement

The Cold War and the Long Civil Rights Movement

(p.9) 1 The Cold War and the Long Civil Rights Movement
Selma to Saigon

Daniel S. Lucks

University Press of Kentucky

The seeds of the war-related debates that racked the civil rights movement in the 1960s had been planted decades earlier. In consonance with scholarship on the long civil rights movement, this chapter explores how African Americans developed an anticolonialist sensibility that internationalized the race issue and highlighted the links between colonialism and imperialism abroad and Jim Crow at home. This sentiment climaxed at the end of World War II, when African American civil rights leaders envisioned a world devoid of colonialism. A few years later, however, the Cold War milieu emerged and shattered this anticolonial sentiment. By the late 1940s and early 1950s, with the onset of the Red scare and McCarthyism, the NAACP embraced Cold War liberalism and muted its support of anticolonial movements, such as the Vietminh's struggle for independence from the French. The U.S. government targeted radical African Americans such as Paul Robeson, W. E. B. Du Bois, and others who protested the emerging Cold War zeitgeist. This had a chilling effect on the civil rights movement's willingness to protest American foreign policy and informed the initial reluctance to speak out against the Vietnam War in the mid-1960s.

Keywords:   African Americans—politics and government, United States foreign relations—1933–1954, civil rights movement, United States—race relations, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)

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