African Americans - Jim crow and the cold war




"A vast literature has explored the major American cold war initiatives of the late 1940s and early 1950s. The decision-making processes and ramifications of the Truman Doctrine, the European Recovery Plan (Marshall Plan), the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and National Security Council document 68 (NSC 68) have received painstaking analysis from a variety of political perspectives. But there has been only occasional attention paid either to the ways in which these policy initiatives emerged from a racially hierarchical domestic and international landscape or to their racial meanings and ramifications. Yet, people of color at the time were well aware of this other context. Winston Churchill's 'Iron Curtain' speech of February 1946 represented a declaration of cold war, but it also served as a call for Anglo-American racial and cultural unity. The Truman Doctrine of March 1947 opposed potential 'armed minorities' of the left but not those of the right who actually ruled much of the world: European colonialists. The Marshall Plan (1948) and NATO (1949) bolstered anticommunist governments west of the Elbe River but also indirectly funded their efforts at preserving white rule in Asia and Africa. NSC 68 laid out an offensive strategy of diminishing Soviet influence abroad, but it also revealed American anxieties about a broader 'absence of order among nations' that was 'becoming less and less tolerable' when the largest change in the international system was coming not from communist revolutions but from the decolonization of nonwhite peoples."

— From Thomas Borstelmann, "Jim Crow's Coming Out: Race Relations and American Foreign Policy in the Truman Years," Presidential Studies Quarterly 29, no. 3 (1999): 549–569 —

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