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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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African Americans and the Long Cold War Thaw, 1954–1965

African Americans and the Long Cold War Thaw, 1954–1965

(p.37) 2 African Americans and the Long Cold War Thaw, 1954–1965
Selma to Saigon

Daniel S. Lucks

University Press of Kentucky

By the mid-1950s, the worst aspects of McCarthyism and the Red scare had abated, yet the Cold War culture continued to dominate American life and foreign policy. The civil rights movement's fortunes improved with Brown v. Board of Education and the emergence of young Martin Luther King Jr. As cracks in the Cold War hegemony appeared and small spaces for dissent occurred, the frayed ties between the peace and freedom movements started to re-form. The most significant phenomenon was the creation of SNCC in 1960s because it accelerated the pace of change and brought nonviolent direct action to the fore. As part of the New Left, with its post–Cold War mind-set, SNCC and later SDS challenged the liberal consensus. Although the nonviolent protests catapulted civil rights to the top of the nation's agenda, the young activists were often disillusioned by the constraints of the Democratic Party and liberalism. This chapter explores the genesis of SNCC and why the most radical elements of the civil rights movements were some of the earliest opponents of the Vietnam War.

Keywords:   civil rights movement, Cold War, New Left, Mississippi—race relations, African American history, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Students for a Democratic Society (SDS)

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