Thursday, May 29, 2008

Desegregation as a Cold War Imperative, now on SSRN

When Desegregation as a Cold War Imperative was first published in November 1988 in the Stanford Law Review, a graduate student I met at a conference asked why on earth I had published it somewhere that made it so difficult to find! I was told that grad students, without access to legal research tools, passed dog-eared copies to each other. The article has since been anthologized, and of course I've done more work in the area, but many outside the law school world never came across the article.

Inspired by Paul Finkelman, Kurt Lash and others, I've decided it's time to try to make my SSRN listing more comprehensive by posting earlier articles. This seems particularly important for interdisciplinary scholars whose work appears in different sorts of indexes (law and humanities). Putting it on-line means that researchers across the divide can find it in one place. I did not post this earlier because I didn't have permission to do so, but was able to get permission to do it now.

Here's the abstract:

Desegregation as a Cold War Imperative by Mary L. Dudziak, University of Southern California Law School, Stanford Law Review (1988).

At the height of the McCarthy era, when Congressional committees were exposing "communist infiltration" in many areas of American life, the Supreme Court was upholding loyalty oath requirements, and the executive branch was ferreting out alleged communists in government, the U.S. Attorney General filed a pro-civil rights brief in what would become one of the most celebrated civil rights cases in American history: Brown v. Board of Education. Although seemingly at odds with the restrictive approach to individual rights in other contexts, the U.S. government's participation in the desegregation cases during the McCarthy era was no anomaly. Rather, by the early 1950s, American leaders had come to believe that civil rights reform was crucial to the more central U.S. mission of fighting world communism. Based in part on diplomatic research in State Department archives, this article demonstrates that Cold War motives influenced the U.S. government's involvement in Brown and other cases.
Originally published in 1988 in the Stanford Law Review, this article was the first publication to use State Department records to examine the relationship between Cold War foreign relations and civil rights in the United States. Diplomatic records illustrate the growing concern among American diplomats and political leaders after World War II about the impact of race discrimination on the U.S. image around the world, and the global critique that the United States could not be an effective "leader of the free world" as long as the nation blatantly denied rights to its own peoples. This research confirmed the suspicions of Derrick Bell and others who argued before these records were opened that foreign affairs affected U.S. government civil rights policies, and it helped illuminate the world-wide impact of the civil rights movement. This research was expanded upon in Mary L. Dudziak, Cold War Civil Rights: Race and the Image of American Democracy (Princeton University Press, 2000), and in books and articles by other scholars. The larger body of work on race and foreign relations is an important aspect of efforts by historians to internationalize the study of American history.
Thanks to the Stanford Law Review, the article is now available on SSRN so that it will be easily accessible on-line.


Unknown said...

Glad you posted this. Didn't you give a paper with this title at an Am.Pol.Sci.Assn. meeting (Law & History section)?

Mary L. Dudziak said...

Thanks for your note. I gave an APSA paper on the later research that resulted in my book, Cold War Civil Rights. The one conference I gave a paper with the title Desegregation as a Cold War Imperative was my very first panel at the American Society for Legal History, before this piece was published.

The broader race and foreign affairs literature includes political scientists. Probably the most well known poli sci contribution is The Unsteady March by Philip Klinkner and Rogers Smith, which focuses on the impact of wartimes on civil rights.