Prehistory of the Civil Rights Movement

Topics: World War II, United States, Cold War Pages: 2 (676 words) Published: October 15, 2013

Upon the conclusion of World War 2 (WWII), African Americans had an optimistic view of future race relations in the United States. As Patricia Sullivan mentioned in Movement Building During World War 2, blacks felt since they had labored in the factories to supply the war materials which facilitated in the winning of WWII and fought and suffered casualties on behalf of America just as whites had, they too should be able to receive the same rights as their white counterparts and work alongside them as well. The Civil Rights Movement attempted to resume furthering racial equality and desegregation, but was setback for an entire decade by one factor, the Cold War. African Americans saw a need for desegregation, and with the leadership of the NAACP, blacks succeeded in their fight for their legal rights as citizens of the United States. The Cold War was detrimental in the progression of the Civil Rights Movement. “The impact of the Cold War, the anti-communist purges and near-totalitarian social environment, had a devastating effect upon the cause of blacks’ civil rights and civil liberties.” (Marable 2007) The fear of Communism and the fear of the consequences for speaking out against the government caused many people to exclude themselves from the movement. Foreign affairs took place over domestic affairs in US politics and the importance of the fight against Communism was placed over the need for desegregation and other racial issues in America. Walter White, Secretary of the NAACP, could be potentially blamed, in my opinion, for partaking in thus placement of affairs. Although a leader in the NAACP, he practically abandoned the domestic affairs of civil rights and focused heavily on international affairs, as in colonization of India. Janken can be credited for saying, “White embraced the liberal anti-Communism that supported USA foreign policy.” (Janken 2008) The struggle against segregation was dilatory and intimidating. Dilatory in the sense that it took a...


Bibliography: Janken, Kenneth. From colonial liberation to Cold War liberalism: Walter White, the NAACP, and Foreign Affairs, 1941–1955. London. Routledge, 2008.
Marable, Manning. Race, Reform, and Rebellion: The Second Reconstruction and Beyond In Black America, 1945-2006. United States: The University of Mississippi, 2007.
Sullivan, Patricia. Movement Building during the World War II Era: The NAACP’s Legal Insurgency in the South. Oxford. Oxford University Press, 2012.
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