“New York is like Johannesburg”: The Global Dimensions of the African American Freedom Movement

Lecture Description

​When considering the civil rights movement, images come to mind of the pivotal and harrowing confrontations between nonviolent civil rights demonstrators and pro-segregation forces willing to resort to deadly violence in such southern locales as Birmingham, Selma, and rural Mississippi. But for U.S. policymakers, civil rights activists and supporters, and observers at home and overseas, these local campaigns were always connected to global affairs.  International press coverage ensured that audiences all over the world avidly followed the United States’ convulsive struggle toward a more just society.
During the 1950s and 1960s, the U.S. civil rights movement transformed American society by ending state-sanctioned racial discrimination in the U.S. South, in what were the former Confederate states.  In what contemporaries called the second Reconstruction, Americans of all backgrounds marched, practiced nonviolent civil disobedience, filled jails, aroused the conscience of many fellow Americans, and often did so in the face of hostile mobs and vigilante terror. These gains were achieved at great cost. Many lives were lost to the violent deeds of the enemies of change. Acts of brutality waged by segregationists against nonviolent demonstrators demanding basic human rights garnered national and international headlines.  Civil rights campaigns in the South unfolded during the Cold War, and coincided with liberation movements in Africa, linking U.S. events to international affairs.


Civil Rights Transnational and Comparative

ALL TOPICS & TITLES: Go back to all topics and titles.

More Distinguished Lectureship Program Resources