The Power of Jazz

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The Power of Jazz

A Case Study on the American Jazz Tours during the Cold War Master thesis of Ines Prakke

Ines Prakke 11331496 Master Thesis History of the International Relations

Supervisor: Dr. Ruud van Dijk Second reader: Dr. Katy Hull


19271 words


Table of contents

Chapter 1 Introduction……….………...3

1.1 Introducing the Subject 3

1.2 Primary Sources 6

1.3 Organization of the Work 9

Chapter 2 Historiographic context ………...10

2.1 Literature Review 10

2.2 Implications in the Framework 17

2.3 Sub Questions 19

Chapter 3 Shaping the era: US and Africa in the 1950s………..…....20

3.1 Rise of Jazz and other relevant cultural developments in the US in the 1950s 20

3.2 The Soviet Union and Africa 32

Chapter 4 Tour Analysis………38

4.1 The Idea Behind the Programs 38

4.2 The Experiences of the Cast 45

4.3 Outcomes of the Tours 47

Chapter 5 Afterwards: Media vs Reality………..………50

5.1 The Tours in the U.S. Media 50

5.2 How did the Nigerian Public React to the Tours? 52

Chapter 6 Conclusion……… ………...…..55




Chapter 1: Introduction

The American cultural blitz in the developing world reflected the administration’s belief that the major battlegrounds of the Cold War were in the “periphery”- in Asia, Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East. It was more urgent to target neutralist countries than those allied with the US. This was not culture for its own sake; it was culture put to work in the service of the Cold War.

-Kenneth Osgood1

1.1 Introducing the Subject

During the Cold War, the United States sent over fifty-five African American jazz artists abroad to perform in eighty-four Third World countries.2 About three-fourths of Africa was visited by African American artists during the late 1950s and 1960s. This was part of the Cultural Exchange Program of President Dwight Eisenhower, which was created to better the relationship between Third World countries and the United States through mutual cultural representation.3 The term ‘Third World’ is used here to group the countries that did not choose a side in the Cold War, yet.4 The term is now highly insufficient, but in this case the categorization is necessary. The jazz artists visited countries in Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Central, and South America, and most of the African continent between 1954 and 1968.5 Twenty-six tours were organized by the State Department through the Cultural Exchange program between 1954 and 1968.6 Most of the African countries were visited more than once.

This group included famous jazz artists Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, Nina Simone, and Lionel Hampton.7 Many festivals and sponsored trips were organized by different government- funded institutions who were all under the umbrella of the Cultural Exchange Program.8

1 Kenneth Osgood, Total Cold War: Eisenhower’s Secret Propaganda Battle at Home and Abroad (Lawrence, Kansas: University Press of Kansas, 2006), 219-220.

2 Danielle Fosler-Lussier, Music in America’s Cold War Diplomacy (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2015) 12-13; Treshani Perera, “The Real Ambassadors: A Musical on Jazz Diplomacy and Race Relations During the Early Cold War Years”, University of Wisconsin UMW Digital Commons, (2017), 21-22.

3 Osgood, 3-8; Fosler-Lussier, 10-15.

4 Robert J. McMahon, The Cold War in the Third World (Oxford University Press Inc, 2013), 1-11, 208-221.

5 Penny Von Eschen, Satchmo Blows up the World: Jazz Ambassadors Play the Cold War (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2006), 53-77; Ingrid Monson, Freedom Sounds: Civil Rights Call Out to Jazz and Africa, Freedom Sounds (Oxford University Press, 2007), Chapter 4.

6 See appendix figures 5-9.

7 Lonneke Geerlings, “Performances in the theatre of the Cold War: The American Society of African Culture and the 1961 Lagos Festival”, Journal of Transatlantic Studies, Vol 16, No. 1 (2018), 1-3.

8 Hugh Wilford, "The American Society of African Culture: The CIA and Transnational Networks of African Diaspora Intellectuals in the Cold War", in Transnational Anti-Communism and the Cold War: Agents, Activities, and Networks, ed. by Luc van Dongen, Stéphanie Roulin, and Giles Scott-Smith, The Palgrave Macmillan Transnational History Series (London: Palgrave Macmillan UK, 2014), 23–34.


These tours alone might seem innocent, or maybe slightly insignificant during a time of the long-term conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union. At first glance, that may seem to be the case, but further research shows that these U.S. government-sponsored tours are part of a propaganda-filled foreign policy of the United States during the heated days of the Cold War. This is because - as this paper states - these events were a tool of Soft Power;

persuading, or convincing African people and others who noticed to see the U.S. as beneficial to corporate with, to stand by.9 Being seen as advantageous in the two-sided Cold War was of great importance for the United States, in trying to persuade non-Western countries to be on the U.S. side as opposed to the communist side.10 Attraction instead of fear as a form of power is called Soft Power and was especially observable during this war for political scientists and historians because of the importance of the ideology of both sides.11 The concept of Soft Power has been conceptualized by Joseph Nye in his academic analysis, it means to influence the behavior of others by attracting them to you, or your ideas.12

These papers argue that creating, sponsoring, and promoting tours with African American jazz artists in recently decolonized countries during a time where the Soviet Union and the United States were constantly promoting their ideology is an example of Soft Power.13 These tours create an opportunity to research the Cultural Diplomacy of the U.S. government, in the context of the Cold War of the mid-1950s and 1960s. This subject has been researched through the years, especially after the Cultural Turn in the 1970s and the 1990s where a broader perspective on the Cold War was encouraged by scholars. 14 This was a result of ‘the expansion of history’ in the 1950s and 1960s where culture, emotion, gender, and other non-formal political aspects were considered more by historians.15 Especially in the period of the Cold War, it became obvious to make culture a standard in historiographic research. The realist approach of the Cold War became less mainstream while the social constructivists became more

9 Joseph S. Nye, "Soft Power", Foreign Policy, Vol. 80, No. Fall (1990), 153–171; Joseph S. Nye, "Soft Power and American Foreign Policy", Political Science Quarterly, Vol. 119, No. 2 (2004), 255–270.

10 Nye, “Soft Power and American Foreign Policy”, 255-256.

11 Nye, “Soft Power”, 153-154.

12 Nye, “Soft Power”, 154.

13 Nye, “Soft Power and American Foreign Policy”, 267-270; “Soft Power”, 165-167.

14 David Reynolds, ‘International History, the Cultural Turn and the Diplomatic Twitch.’, Social and Cultural History. The Journal of the Social History Society, Vol. 3, No. 1 (2006), 75–91; Odd Arne Westad, The Global Cold War: Third World Interventions and the Making of Our Times (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 1-8; Nicholas J. Cull, The Cold War and the United States Information Agency: American Propaganda and Public Diplomacy, 1945–1989. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), xxv-21.

15 Reynolds, 75–91.


popular.16 Especially because the realist approach heavily relies on the idea that the Cold War is a state-driven war between only the Soviet Union and the United States. The constructivist approach engages more aspects and developments into the Cold War theories and therefore broadens the framework and makes this research possible.17 As an example, Cultural Diplomacy as a research project must be seen as a legitimate part of the Cold War.

What we will see in the historiographic context in the next chapter, is that there are a few gaps in the framework. For one, research has been done on jazz as part of the cultural diplomacy program, on Eisenhower’s ideology on foreign relations and, some on the tours and festivals themselves. What’s lacking is a connecting overview of the many decisions that had been made by the State Department, the president, and the organizations on the programs.

Starting from the early development stages of the Cultural Exchange Program to practical planning as to who gets to play when, where, and why. Another aspect which will be discussed later is the about the artists. A large number of African American artists were sent off for months at the time, filling the role of ambassadorship abroad while suffering under segregation at home.

Furthermore, it needs to be researched how these acts of cultural ‘ambassadorship’ influenced the newly (re-)established countries, like many African countries in the 1960s.18 Because it is unclear if the tours had any short- or long-term effects on the targeted countries, the influence is not measurable. Perhaps it was only a waste of money by the U.S. Government, or maybe it had unforeseen consequences. Therefore, there needs to be research done with these comments in mind.

The existing literature on this subject will form the initial starting point, accompanied by primary sources. This thesis will hopefully contribute to the discussion on the influence of cultural diplomacy during the Cold War in Africa. This research focuses on the relationship between the U.S. and Africa for multiple reasons. This will later be discussed in more detail but to give some examples; the African continent is by far the most visited by artists through the 1950s and 1960s.19 The government of the United States was afraid of the ‘communist domino effect’ in Africa, as the ‘domino effect’ was already in full swing in Southeast Asia, and

16 Jack Donnelly, Realism and International Relations (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 6-13;

Roya Jafari Amineh and Hanieh Davatgari Asl, "Review of Constructivism and Social Constructivism", Journal of Social Sciences, Literature and Languages, Vol 1, No. 1 (2015), 9–10.

17 Michael C. Williams, "Why Ideas Matter in International Relations: Hans Morgenthau, Classical Realism, and the Moral Construction of Power Politics", International Organization, Vol. 58, No. 4 (2004), 633–639.

18 Macharia Munene, J. D. Olewe Nyunya & Korwa Gombe Adar, The United States and Africa: From Independence to the End of the Cold War (Nairobi: East African Publishers, 1995), Chapter 1.

19 Perera, 28.


therefore wanted to act fast to stop that from happening on the African continent.20 One important aspect of this study is the role of African American artists as ambassadors, chosen by the government, having to advertise America while living under Jim Crow laws.21 This is interesting on its own, but especially considering how well the African Americans were treated by the State Department on tour in Africa, and that they were given a chance to tour in the first place. In later chapters, this will be discussed in the framework of existing research.

The main research question of this thesis is: ‘What were the outcomes for the artists, the African people, and for the State Department, of the state-sponsored jazz tours from 1954 to 1968?’. The sub-questions that are derived from the historiographical research are created to answer the different components in the research question, as well as research the different forms of outcomes. For example, this thesis will research some of the possible outcomes of the jazz tours for the African American artists as well as the American and African press, like were the artists treated differently after the tours? Did the tours have any impact on Soviet US relations in the Cold War? The outcomes I’m interested in are national outcomes for the artists and the Americans in general, as well as international outcomes, like the reception in Africa and the Soviet US relations in the context of the Cold War.

1.2 Primary Sources

The dominant primary sources at the core of this thesis are American newspapers, interviews with artists, photographs and pamphlets of the tours, and reports from the U.S. Government.22 African newspapers will be used as well, be it in smaller quantities than the American news outlets.23 There are a few documentaries and autobiographies on a couple of the jazz artists which will be analyzed as well.24 The motivation and justification of these sources will be explained in this paragraph. This is also because the possibilities to include African primary

20 Westad, Chapter 3; Robert J. McMahon, "Eisenhower and Third World Nationalism: A Critique of the Revisionists", Political Science Quarterly, Vol. 101, No. 3 (1986), 453–473. There were no distinct areas particularly neglected or more often visited, therefore the decision was made to use the term Africa instead of an area or a large group of countries, which would be more correct.

21 Penny Von Eschen, Race against Empire: Black Americans and Anticolonialism, 1937–1957, New edition (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1997), 1-22.

22 Mostly from the New York Times Archive, the Jackson Advocate, Arizona Tribune, The Pittsburgh Courier, The Evening Star & Ebony.

23 The African newspapers are found in the secondary literature. Among others: Osgood, 277; Mary L. Dudziak, Cold War Civil Rights: Race and the Image of American Democracy, Revised edition (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2011), Chapter 6.

24 Video’s found on & Penn Libraries ; Dizzy Gillespie, To Be, or Not . . . to Bop (New York:

Doubleday, 1979); Louis Armstrong, Louis Armstrong, In His Own Words: Selected Writings, ed. by Thomas Brothers, 2nd edition (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001).


sources are limited. I gathered some information that I would like to analyze and discuss in this framework. My initial goal was to gain further information into the research of the African perspective. It turned out harder to measure than expected, but I can say something useful about it. What I will do with the gathered information is to try to create a framework and focus on several aspects that I do know the details of. One example of this is the Lagos Music Festival in 1961, which will be discussed thoroughly in later chapters.

The American newspapers will give insight and context on how the tours and festivals were perceived in the U.S. and the host countries. The New York Times had a lot of articles on the jazz tours in the Third World and the Soviet Union. This is because of John S. Wilson, a prominent music critic who was the first journalist who wrote articles on jazz and other popular music at the time in a well-known newspaper.25 In this thesis, several articles of his will be used to research the tours. An example of a short newspaper article of his is published December 27, 1959; “Through Africa with Drums and Flute”, where Wilson writes about a three-month tour that is about to start for a jazz band making “ethnic jazz music”, so he says.26 A combination of traditional American jazz and instrumental additions from Africa. This article also mentions the Cultural Exchange Program from the State Department, stating that this tour is part of that program.27 The overall tone, wording, and perspective provides a perspective on how and what the U.S. public wanted to know about the tours, and how the journalists set out the report on them. Apart from the New York Times, there are articles from the Washington D.C. Evening Star, the Jackson Advocate from Jackson, Mississippi, the Arizona Tribune, the Pittsburgh Courier, and Ebony.28 The Jackson Advocate, the Pittsburgh Courier, and Ebony are examples of African American newspapers and magazines and are part of the ‘Black Press’ that grew popular in the twentieth century in America.29 Especially during the time of the Civil Rights Movement and the ending of the Jim Crow laws these newspapers were the principal news outlet for African Americans wanting to know the developments around the Civil Rights Movement and the decolonization of Africa.30 These are therefore very valuable sources to

25 John S. Wilson, "Through Africa with Drums and Flute", New York Times Archive (New York, N.Y., United States, 27 December 1959); John S. Wilson, "American Jazzmen Overseas: Two Bandleaders Talk of Their Experiences in Africa and Europe", New York Times Archive (New York, N.Y., United States, 14 July 1957);

"100,000 IN AFRICA CHEER “SATCHMO”; Gold Coast Makes a Holiday of Concert--Gillespie Is Back After Jazz Tour Gillespie Tour Loses $92,000", New York Times Archive (New York, N.Y., United States 1956); "33 Americans Going to Negro Art Fete", New York Times Archive (New York, N.Y., United States, 1961), 87;

‘Hampton at Nigerian Fete’, New York Times Archive (New York, N.Y., United States, 1961), 32.

26 Wilson, "Through Africa with Drums and Flute".

27 Wilson, "Through Africa with Drums and Flute". See Appendix for article.

28 All found in online digitalized newspaper archives.

29 John H. Burma, "An Analysis of the Present Negro Press", Social Forces, Vol. 26, No. 2 (1947), 172–180.

30 Dudziak, Cold War Civil Rights, 110-120.


analyze when researching this subject. The interviews of the jazz artists and autobiographies from some of them have the obvious job of trying to get to know the artists, their motivation, and their experiences.31 An example of useful insight from an autobiography is that from Dizzy Gillespie who wrote a lot about his role as an African American jazz artist abroad. “One of the reasons we’d been sent around the world was to offset reports of racial prejudice in the United States, so I figured now we had a chance to give the doctor some medicine and fight against racial prejudice and end all those reports.”32

The creation and motivation behind Eisenhower’s Cultural Exchange Program will be discussed with the official state records on the program and the thoughts that went into it. It is also interesting to see the possible differences between the start of the state-initiated programs and the outcomes through the documents of the State Department. Reports from the Foreign Relations of the United States Department (FRUS), the United States Information Agency (USIA), and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) will be used.33 The published documents of the USIA are especially of importance, this is because Eisenhower’s attempts to succeed in Cultural Diplomacy are intertwined with the United States Information Agency (USIA). The published records of the CIA will give insight into the situation in Africa in the 1950s and 1960s and how US officials acted upon the recent developments there.34 There is a lot of information in the records about the Soviet Union’s actions in the Horn of Africa and the Sub-Saharan area.

How the U.S. describes the African countries and the Soviet intervention in these countries tells a lot about the motivation behind the Cultural Exchange Program and similar state-initiated projects.

1.3 Organization of the work

31 Armstrong; Gillespie; Pathé; Penn Libraries.

32 Gillespie, 434–435.

33 See Bibliography: Primary Sources.

34 Nigeria and the Congo: Implications for Black Africa, November 6, 1967, CIA, Foreign Relations of the United

States (FRUS), 1964-1968, Congo, 1960-1968, Volume XXIII, No. 9.67; Trends in Soviet Policy Toward Sub- Saharan Africa, December 5, 1962, CIA, FRUS, 1961-1963, Africa, Volume XXI, No.11.12.62 (375); The Current Political Situation and Prospects in Tropical Africa, May 20, 1966, CIA, FRUS, 1964-1968, Africa, Volume XXIV, No. 8.66; Nassers Policy and Prospects in Black Africa, January 9, 1964, CIA, FRUS, 1964-1968, Africa, Volume XXIV, No. 1.64; The Current Situation in British West Africa, September 29, 1950, CIA, FRUS, 1950, The Near East, South Asia, and Africa, Volume V; The Current Situation in French North Africa, December 18, 1947, CIA, FRUS, 1947, The Near East and Africa, Volume V, No. ORE 63;Conditions and Trends in Tropical Africa, August 14, 1956, CIA, FRUS, 1955-1957, Africa, Volume XVII, No. 72.56.


At first, there will be a literature study on the secondary literature that has been written about this subject. The general assumptions, theories, and methods will be discussed, as well as the focal point of these studies. When that framework is created, the missing elements become clear. What needs more attention and is important to take into consideration when researching this form of Cultural Diplomacy is the experiences of jazz artists. The artists are not seen as separate factors, they are merged with the jazz tours, except for Louis Armstrong, who was by far the most popular jazz artist during this time.35 Even though the artists played a large role by performing in these African countries, doing interviews with news outlets all over the world, and seeing how the people in the host countries react.

After the historiographic context in Chapter 2, the finalized sub-questions will be discussed shortly. Chapter 3 starts with shaping the era, creating the context: the rise of jazz and other cultural developments in the United States in the 1950s and Eisenhower’s views on the Third World countries. In other words: the core of the USIA and the Cultural Exchange program will be discussed as well as the Foreign Policy programs on Africa that are relevant for this research. The Soviet advances in Africa will be quickly mentioned to show the urgency the U.S. felt to act upon it. The response of the African public to the policies of the U.S. and the Soviet Union will be researched, although it will mostly be from mentions in secondary literature, to know the overall response before the tours became a regular sight on the continent.

In Chapter 4 the tours are analyzed. The idea behind the program will be explained and there will be a case study on the Lagos Music Festival in 1961. The experiences of the artists as popular ambassadors such as Armstrong, Gillespie, Weston, de Paris, and Simone will be discussed. Chapter 5 is dedicated to media coverage before, during, and after the tours as many valuable primary sources are newspapers, and because newspapers generally provide a great insight into the thoughts and morals of that time. What was the perspective of the U.S. press?

And were there differences between the African press and the U.S. press? Were the tours considered to be as successful, and what did the American and African public think? This is all summarized in Chapter 6, where the outcomes of research and answers to the sub-questions are conducted in a short chapter with an overview of the research.

Chapter 2: Historiographic context

35 Von Eschen, Satchmo Blows Up the World, 4-6.


2.1 Literature review

At first, the existing literature on the subject will be analyzed. Secondly, the main implications and gaps in those studies will be discussed. The sub-questions that will derive from the implications contain the last part of the chapter. First off, there is Kenneth Osgood’s ‘Total Cold War: Eisenhower’s Secret Propaganda Battle at Home and Abroad’ (2006).36 Osgood does a good job theorizing the use of the different kinds of propaganda as an inescapable part of the Cold War, calling it propaganda and ‘psychological warfare’ efforts. “Covert operations, cultural and educational exchanges, book publication and distribution, space exploration, and scientific cooperation could all be employed safely and effectively in this conflict”.37 Osgood uses the concept of propaganda battles to categorize and explain the programs of the U.S.

government during the 1950s: the Atoms for Peace, the continuation of the Space Race, Open Skies and, important to this thesis, the People-to-People program.38

The People-to-People Program was a Cultural Exchange Program initiated by President Dwight Eisenhower, creating ‘ambassadorship’ projects in developing countries, advertising it with terms like goodwill, supporting others, charity, and teamwork.39 By researching the policies of Eisenhower, and discussing his role in these developments, Osgood’s work helped to create an idea of the power of one president and the true motivations behind some state- initiated organizations. In Osgood’s panoramic view, jazz tours are an integral part of the Cold War. Osgood uses the concept of a Global Cold War, which he takes from the work of the Norwegian historian Odd Arne Westad.40 Westad favors a ‘constructivist’ approach to international conflict, as opposed to an older ‘realist’ approach, in which only nation-states are considered as actors, motivated by sheer national self-interest. To Westad, this concept is too narrow in analyzing the Cold War: he looks at a wider complex of valid factors, such as culture, emotions, personal relations, Soft Power, and propaganda. 41

The role of nation-states is by far the most prominent in a conflict, and all nation-states are motivated by national interest. This narrow perception of international conflict became insufficient for scholars when trying to analyze the Cold War. The constructivist approach does make it possible to understand the Cold War because it enhances the idea that culture, emotions,

36 Osgood.

37 Osgood, 53.

38 Osgood, Chapter 5.

39 Osgood, 100–168.

40 Westad.

41 Williams, 633-656; Amineh and Asl, 9-11; Donnelly 16-40.


personal diplomacy, Soft Power, propaganda, underlying reasons, non-political power relations, and other now well-known elements of the Cold War can be researched and valid in times of conflict.42

Nicholas Cull dives deep into the Foreign Policies and State initiatives of the several administrations during the Cold War between 1945 and 1989.43 Especially the attempts of Presidents Truman and Eisenhower to engage the U.S. with the rest of the world are analyzed in ‘The Cold War and the USIA: American propaganda & public diplomacy’ (2008).44 The USIA, the United States Information Agency, was established by Eisenhower in 1953. It was an agency devoted to the public diplomacy of the United States.45 Cull discusses the major overseas propaganda operations of the administrations, such as the Cultural Exchange Programs through the USIA and the broadcasting stations Voice of America, which helped support the cultural programs abroad by advertising and ‘selling’ the programs.46 Voice of America was stationed throughout the Third World and could bring American news in a way that would enhance the reputation of the U.S.47 Cull also analyzes the struggle of the U.S. government, dealing with the challenges of the Civil Rights Movement at home and abroad, and the more secretive ideas of U.S. officials trying to overcome those struggles by creating secret propaganda initiatives, in other words by using Soft Power. The concept of Soft Power has been defined by Joseph Nye, to influence the behavior of others by attracting them to you or attract them to want you to want them to be attracted to.48 Instead of using threat or coercion, soft power uses actors and factors that positively influence others, and example of this could be music.

Danielle Fosler-Lussier’s study ‘Music in America’s Cold War Diplomacy’ (2015) is an important source for this research.49 She builds onto the work of Osgood by studying the links between the State Department and the music industry in the Cold War.50 Arguing the importance of the U.S. government intervening with jazz and the mainly African American artist who play it. Fosler-Lussier calls music concerts for audiences around the world intended to show evidence of America’s improving race relations, ‘propaganda ventures’.51 An

42 Williams, 635-640.

43 Cull.

44 Cull, Chapter 1 & 2.

45 Cull, xxv-xxvi.

46 Cull, 80-98, 255-292.

47 Cull, 97.

48 Nye, ‘Soft Power’, 153-165.

49 Fosler-Lussier.

50 Fosler-Lussier, Chapter 3 to 5.

51 Fosler-Lussier, 24.


interesting point of view from Fosler-Lussier is her argument that because the State Department decisions to use jazz in the Cold War, ultimately became the reason why jazz has been associated with democracy and peace.52 And not the other way around, jazz was not seen as the cornerstone of democracy. It is now the case because the U.S. wanted that to be the case. The State Department wanted to connect jazz with freedom and democratic ideals. They, the State Department, wanted to use it as a weapon in an ideological war, so it became a part of their propaganda policies. This perspective brought inspiration to research further into the variable jazz specifically and the role of the State Department.53

Ingrid Monson also used this perspective in her book ‘Freedom Sounds: Civil Rights Call Out to Jazz and Africa’ (2007) where she links the internal issues of America and the Civil Rights Movement to the importance of jazz in the relationship between American Black Culture and Africa.54 Monson describes the impact of the Civil Rights Movement and the African independence on jazz, which is a different point of view on ‘who influences who’. She writes about the U.S. government trying to cope with the developments at home while trying to better its reputation abroad.55 Monson does a very thorough job describing the conflicts for the African American jazz artists as ambassadors. While not specifically mentioning individuals, Monson recognized the internal struggles the black artists had: “(…) during these years, everyone in the world of jazz had to cope with the politics of race in one form or another, whether through denial, engagement, withdrawal strategic confrontation, cathartic rage, resentment, celebration, or sublimation.”56 Ingrid Monson’s book is complemented by the work of Mary L. Dudziak,

‘Cold War Civil Rights & Desegregation as a Cold War Imperative’ (2000).57 Dudziak argues that Civil Rights became a national security issue for the U.S. Government. She says the reason why the U.S. Government began to support the Civil Rights movement is not that the Southerners in Congress were suddenly supportive, which were in the majority at the time, but because of the large amount of negative attraction the race relations caused in the international arena.58

The work of Treshani Perera, ‘‘The Real Ambassadors: A Musical on Jazz Diplomacy and Race Relations During the Early Cold War Years’ (2017), builds onto the work of Ingrid

52 Fosler-Lussier, 205.

53 Fosler-Lussier, Chapters 3 & 4.

54 Monson Chapters 1 to 4.

55 Monson, Chapters 4 & 5.

56 Monson, 7.

57 Dudziak, Cold War Civil Rights.

58 Dudziak, Cold War Civil Rights, 42–50.


Monson and Penny von Eschen.59 By examining the combination of jazz diplomacy, race relations in the US, and the State Department’s cultural diplomacy propaganda initiatives, Perera contextualizes the intersections between music and politics from a Cold War perspective.60 Although Perera’s point of view is from Music studies, and the main goal of her studies was to study the progress towards the Montgomery jazz festival in 1962, she gathered and interpreted a great deal of information about the jazz tours abroad. For one, she gathered data on the tours and created a table where every artist and every tour is clearly categorized, the specific dates, the main artists and their bands, and the destinations.61 For example, the table listed Louis Armstrong on tour from October 25 to December 4, 1960, going to Cameroon, Congo, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), Nyasaland (Malawi), Togo, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Mali, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Sudan.62

Jazz and cultural diplomacy are the main themes in David Carletta’s ‘“Those White Guys Are Working for Me”: Dizzy Gillespie, Jazz, and the Cultural Politics of the Cold War during the Eisenhower Administration’(2007).63 Carletta writes about how the Eisenhower Administration sponsored the goodwill tours of jazz artists, as a form of propaganda against the Soviet Union and communist allies, who at that time were using the racial tensions in America as a form of power themselves.64 “Bolstering American culture around the world”, Carletta calls it and makes it clear that there was involvement and motivation of the U.S. government to create and sponsor the jazz tours in Africa.65 The title shows the conflicting relationships that were created by the tours, showing that the “roles were now reversed”. That during the Jim Crow era, the African American jazz artists themselves were important now, because of the cultural politics of the Eisenhower administration.66

The African point of view

59 Perera.

60 Perera, Chapter 1 & 3.

61 Perera, figures 1 to 6.

62 Perera, figure 5.

63 David M. Carletta, "'Those White Guys Are Working for Me': Dizzy Gillespie, Jazz, and the Cultural Politics of the Cold War during the Eisenhower Administration", International Social Science Review, Vol. 82.3, No. 4 (2007), 115–134.

64 Carletta, 115-120.

65 Carletta, 117–118.

66 Carletta, 115-120.


Some perspective from African countries is provided in an article by Shafiqur Rahaman et al.

‘The Untold History of Neocolonialism in Africa (1960-2011)’ (2017).67 The article describes the struggling relationship between decolonized African countries and the United States and calls the influence of the United States a form of neocolonialism. The motivation to organize the tours fits this concept. The definition Rahaman et al use is that of political scientist Sandra Halperin: “Neocolonialism, the control of less-developed countries by developed countries through indirect means.”68 ‘Indirect’ is explained as the developed countries dominating underdeveloped or developing countries indirectly by using colonial exploitation rules, using force to control a country to exploit their population of natural recourses.69

Penny von Eschen’s study on Louis Armstrong, ‘Satchmo Blows Up the World: Jazz Ambassadors Play the Cold War’ gives a very detailed insight on Armstrong and how he lived in a Jim Crow America while knowingly advertising American music in the Third World.

Armstrong was the most popular artist in the world from the mid-fifties until the mid-sixties and played an important role as a cultural ambassador.70 Von Eschen also describes the many tours that he had, with personal anecdotes in between, for example how touched Armstrong was when he arrived in Ghana and the Ghanaian people sang songs to him that he knew as the lullabies his mother sung to him when he was younger.71 This indicates what kind of influence the tours may have had on the artists, not just on Armstrong, but on the other hundreds of artists who traveled to their ‘ancestral land’ in those years. Von Eschen discusses the motives for the U.S. government and those of Armstrong, and the differences between them.72 She does not go into detail when it comes to the reception of the African people or the African media, nor does she talk about other tours and festivals. Penny von Eschen offers a lot of lesser-known details about the relationship between the State Department and the artists, and the conflicts Armstrong had to face during his tours.73 The second contribution by Penny von Eschen is ‘Race against Empire: Black Americans and Anticolonialism, 1937–1957’ (1997), on the independence movements and changing race-relations inside the U.S. from a Cold War perspective.74 She argues that the State Department initiatives in Africa, like the cultural diplomacy acts, were a

67 Shafiqur Rahaman, Md. Rawshan Yeazdani, and Rashed Mahmud, "The Untold History of Neocolonialism in Africa (1960-2011)", History Research, Vol. 5, No. 1 (2017), 9–16.

68 Halperin, Sandra. "Neocolonialism". Encyclopedia Britannica, 6 May. 2020,

69 Rahaman, Yeazdani, and Mahmud, 9.

70 Von Eschen, Satchmo Blows up the World, 6-7.

71 Von Eschen, Satchmo Blows up the World, 88–90.

72 Von Eschen, Satchmo Blows up the World, Chapter 3 & 4.

73 Von Eschen, Satchmo Blows up the World, Chapter 1 & 3.

74 Penny Von Eschen, Race against Empire: Black Americans and Anticolonialism, 1937–1957, New edition (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1997).


large factor in the changing meaning of race and racism in the U.S. during the Cold War.75 The international issues brought by the segregation laws urged the State Department to create a different perspective and create organizations and programs, advertising them with the goal of exchanging cultures, while the main goal was preventing a communist domino effect.76 It was two-sided, the international reputation of the United States had to better itself, and Africa must not choose the side of the Soviet Union.

Another source to build this historiographic context is that of Lonneke Geerlings, a historian who found many primary sources of one of these tours, the Lagos Festival of 1961, and wrote an article on how the U.S. government and cultural institutions like the American Society of African Culture (AMSAC), created and advertised this tour.77 The primary sources, pamphlets, photographs, and posters, are a very useful addition to this research, as well as the direct connections she claims existed between the U.S.

government and this tour of African American jazz artists in Nigeria.78 One of the primary sources in Geerlings’ “Performances in the Theatre of the Cold

War: The American Society of African Culture and Figure 1. The Lagos Sunday Express, 12 October 1961.79

the 1961 Lagos Festival” (2018), is a photograph of Nina Simone shaking hands with the Nigerian leader of a group who wanted to decolonize Nigeria, this photograph was set up by the AMSAC, The State Department wanted the artist to bond with the Nigeran leaders.80 This symbolizes how the U.S. wanted to support the decolonization and stop the oppression by the colonizers, which could be genuine, or it could be a political statement against the oppressive reputation of the Soviet Union.81 The pamphlet Geerlings found, advertising the festival, shows there was a clear separation in the program between the American performances and the

75 Von Eschen, Race against Empire, 1-7, 96-122.

76 Von Eschen, Race against Empire, 44-69.

77 Geerlings, 1–19.

78 Geerlings, figures 1 to 10.

79 Figure 1. The Lagos Sunday Express, 12 October 1961. Courtesy of Moorland–Spingarn Research Center (MSRC), Howard University, American Society of African Culture.

80 Geerlings, 16.

81 Geerlings, 16-17.


Nigerian performers, named ‘guest stars’, listed at the bottom of the page, her discussion of primary sources is the main reason why Geerlings is heavily used in this thesis.82

The research of Hugh Wilford in ‘The American Society of African Culture: The CIA and Transnational Networks of African Diaspora Intellectuals in the Cold War’ (2014) specifically targets the relationship between the CIA and the programs from the Cultural Exchange Program.83 Wilford calls it ‘pass-throughs’: independent or state-initiated non-profit organizations secretively being sponsored by ‘pass-through’ foundations, foundations that are created by the State Department to make it seem as non-governmental.84 This paper brought a new perspective on lesser-known parts of the cultural programs, and the New York Times exposed a series in 1967 of organizations linked to the work of Wilford including some of the organizations who created the tours, like the American Society of African Culture (AMSAC), which will be discussed later, who created the Lagos Music Festival in 1961.85

This thesis has to deal with several general assumptions and points of focus, connected to a small group of concepts and theories. The perspectives on the main topic differ from international relations to the internal policies of the U.S., and from the official government role to the jazz part of the story. Most scholars agree that the efforts made by the Cultural Exchange Programs during the Cold War influenced an array of developments, like the Civil Rights Movement, jazz, diplomacy, as well as the artists and the host countries.86 In the next paragraph, the gaps or missing elements of this literature will be discussed.

2.2 Implications in the framework

The global perspective on this subject suffers from a top-down perspective. Researchers like Ingrid Monson and Danielle Fosler-Lussier tried to identify the big picture, but left some

82 See figure 1.

83 Wilford.

84 Wilford, 25.

85 Wilford, 23-33.

86 Osgood; Monson; Von Eschen and Geerlings, are part of the group of schoolers defending this statement.


questions open that this research would like to answer.87 Laying the groundwork and identifying the macro developments from the perspective of the Cold War was necessary, to further dive into the specifics. This is also the case for the studies on the institutions like the State Department, the USIA, and the CIA. Even though Kenneth Osgood, Nicholas Cull, Odd Westad, and Hugh Wilford delivered many relevant details, their emphasis was on painting the bigger picture rather than providing a deep analysis of some of the more crucial elements of the Cultural Exchange programs of Eisenhower, such as where the tours were a financial success, for example?88 What was the process of choosing these specific artists? They were all jazz artists, but most African American artists never toured abroad. The African countries were by and large still neutral or ‘undecided’ in the Cold War, but was there an agenda in the order the countries were to be visited? These are the questions that were somewhat left behind in earlier research that I would like to answer in this thesis.

The studies on jazz or jazz artists are usually ‘niche’ and detailed and are difficult to apply in a wider perspective. There is a lot of research on the history of jazz in the twentieth century, but, only a marginal number of these studies see jazz as an important political and cultural factor in the propaganda in the Cold War. Penny von Eschen and David Carletta seemed to have found a way of combining these factors, but because of their U.S. perspective they missed the opportunity of discussing the outcomes of the Cultural Exchange Programs for Africa and the Cold War in general.89 Did the tours do something to change the ways in the Cold War in general, or for specific countries, or even for individuals? Von Eschen, Carletta, and Perera, all lack the discussion of consequences, not only for jazz in a political context, or for the artists who experienced it all, but also the tours and festivals themselves. Did the tours have any influence, or on the African people, or international relations, African American jazz artists, or the Soviet tensions? What was the legacy of these tours? Lonneke Geerlings provided an analysis of one specific festival. Her use of primary sources and her inclusion of political contexts, like discussing the position of the Nigerian leader, made her research different from others, but her paper was only fifteen pages, keeping in mind that half of that is photographs, making it a rather compact analysis.90 Expanding the Cold War perspective, and the political implications of the festival would generate a lot of underlying decisions of the AMSAC (the American Society of African Culture) and Cultural Exchange Program.

87 Monson; Fosler-Lussier.

88 Cull; Westad; Osgood; Wilford.

89 Von Eschen; Carletta.

90 Geerlings, 11.


Another gap concerns research on the U.S. public. The institutions and the U.S.

government, in general, are well-researched, as is the influence of the Civil Rights Movement.

But the response of the U.S. public is unclear. Were there any changes in the public opinion on jazz, on specific artists, cultural diplomacy, or propaganda? Or was the U.S. public not aware of these developments? These questions are also applicable to the rest of the world. Other countries, communist countries as well as allies, kept a close eye on the U.S. throughout the Cold War. Assuming that a lot of countries were aware of the propaganda efforts of the US, or at least of the jazz tours through the Third World, what was their reaction?

In the studies by Carletta and Perera there were a few mentions of the New York Times and Radio America being enthusiastic about the tours: ‘100,000 IN AFRICA CHEER

“SATCHMO’, ‘Gold Coast Makes a Holiday of Concert”, and ‘Armstrong Horn Wins Nairobi, too’.91 Contrarily, Lonneke Geerlings writes about Nigerian newspapers being very critical of the Lagos music festival. “The severest attack came from the Lagos Times: ‘Stop Faking African Culture’. Both the American as well as the Nigerian artists were judged as ‘... not worth two pence a show – BY AFRICAN STANDARDS!’”92 This raises a lot of questions about the differences in journalism and media between the organizer America and the African host countries. It would be interesting to dive deeper into the response of the relevant African countries, review the shows, and discuss whether the tours had an impact on African people.

One way of doing so is by reviewing the African press and using secondary literature to analyze if there are any tour-related outcomes.

2.3 Sub questions

The answer to the central research question: ‘What were the outcomes of the state-sponsored jazz tours from 1954 to 1968 for the artist, Africa, and the State Department?’, this paper created four sub-questions to try to create thorough research with different points of view.

91 100,000 IN AFRICA CHEER “SATCHMO”, New York Times Archive; Gold Coast Makes a Holiday of Concert--Gillespie Is Back After Jazz Tour Gillespie Tour Loses $92,000 (Published 1956)’, New York Times Archive, 24 May 1956, section Archives; Leonard Ingalls, ‘Armstrong Horn Wins Nairobi, Too’, New York Times Archive (New York, N.Y., United States, 7 November 1960).

92 Geerlings, 11.; Lateef Jakande, Daily Express, December 28, 1961, 3.


The first sub-question is: what was the context of the period that the tours took place in?

Meaning, what were the issues for the U.S. at that time, what exactly were these Cultural Exchange Programs and tours? Who were the main characters in this period? The second question is: what was the experience and reception of the African American jazz artists on tour?

I want to research the possible legacies of the African American artists if there were any dramatic changes in their life returning from the tours. And how did the Nigerian public react to the jazz tour? This question will be the hardest to answer, due to the accessibility issues on primary African resources, what I will do is try to answer this question partly, with the specific details I do have. What are the differences between the U.S. media and African media? During the initial research, I have found that these different actors serve a very different idea of how the tours were, which I would like to research further. At last, I would like to dive into the topic of the influence in the Cold War, discussing the tours in relation to the Soviet Union and the United States. By the end of the research, the sub-questions will be summarized to answer the research question.

Chapter 3: Shaping the era: US and Africa in the 1950s.

3.1 Rise of Jazz and other relevant cultural developments in the US in the 1950s


Eisenhower won the presidential election of 1952 through angst. In October of 1952 Republican candidate Dwight D. Eisenhower gave a surprising speech on foreign policy in San Francisco.93 The style of this elections-season in 1952 came down to different ways to candidates criticizing their predecessor Harry S. Truman and each other on being too soft on defense. Eisenhower addressed the Cold War as ‘psychological warfare’.94 This term changed the course of Eisenhower’s election. The perspective of the public also altered, bringing the Cold War to another dimension. “Psychological warfare is the struggle for the minds and wills of men.”95 His speech mentions propaganda, brainwashing, and other non-violent forms of power.96 It became an important issue in the political campaign of the election season of 1952. His speech in San Francisco spoke to lingering fears of US citizens, that America was losing the war against Soviet communism. At that point, the US was at war against the communists in Korea, via the peacekeeping force of the United Nations.97 The fight against communist North Korea, or protecting South Korea, depends on whom you ask what the primary goal was, is seen as the beginning of the Red Scare.98 Communists, every form from relatively mild collectivists like early Marxists to a very radicalized Bolshevist or Stalinist, were feared. The Red Scare itself has been part of US culture since the Russian Revolution of 1917, but the Korean War made the scare a tangible threat.99 Truman’s containment, as a geopolitical foreign policy strategy, was not enough to take on the ‘psychological warfare’ the Cold War was. Eisenhower secured 41 states and won 55,2% in the election of 1952.100 Something distinctively about Eisenhower’s ideology was his belief in cultural diplomacy, trying to win over the hearts and minds of America and beyond through State-initiated programs.101 His administration manifested this in

93 Osgood, 46-53.

94 Osgood, 46-53.

95 Osgood, 46.

96 ‘Text of Gen. Eisenhower’s Foreign Policy Speech in San Francisco' - The New York Times Archive

< francisco.html> [accessed 31 May 2021].

97 Osgood, Chapter 4.

98 Landon R. Y. Storrs, "McCarthyism and the Second Red Scare", Oxford Research Encyclopedia of American History, (2015), 3-5.

9936,516 American soldiers died in the Korean War from 1950-1953. In comparison: Vietnam War lasted 8 years and had 58,209 fatalities. U.S. Military Casualties, Missing in Action, and Prisoners of War from the Era of the Korean War, National Archives, Military Records, war/electronic-records. [accessed 3 May 2021]; Vietnam War U.S. Military Fatal Casualty Statistics,National Archives, Military Records,

[accessed 3 May 2021];Storrs, 9.

100 1952 United States presidential election, Wikipedia, (Retrieved December 30, 2021).

101 Osgood, Chapter 3 & 4.


the ‘Cultural Exchange Programs’, which will be explained in more detail later in this chapter.

The Cultural Exchange Programs was the foundation needed to create the tours, festivals, and other programs that this thesis discusses.102

Eisenhower came through on his promises to reinforce defense, asking Congress the highest budget for the military ever in peacetime. This was mostly because of the United States Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, who was obsessed with fighting against the threat of revolutionary communism.103 Dulles gained support from the head of the witch hunt against communists, senator Joseph McCarthy.104 The president himself felt more comfortable with seeking détente, especially after the death of Joseph Stalin in March 1953.105 During his two presidential terms, there was relative peace between the Soviet Union and the United States.

Eisenhower had to work with and between two teams, team détente and team combat, while figuring out how to win or at least overcome this wide-ranging conflict. This period of relative peace was threatened by the start of the eventually twenty-year competition, the Space Race.106 The nuclear arms race that followed from the US dropping the nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki caused the two world powers to seek technological advantages. Space was seen as ‘a new world to conquer’, the new area where the power of the hegemons could thrive.107 The Soviet Union took the lead by launching the first successful satellite in 1957, Sputnik 1.108 Eisenhower’s reaction to this was advising Congress to create a non-military space agency.

Congress responded by passing the National Aeronautics and Space Act and thereby re- establishing NACA into NASA while making it of national importance that the U.S. beats the Soviet Union. The Space Race started amid Eisenhower’s presidency, but it was under John F.

Kennedy that NASA and space, in general, became extremely important to International Relations, the Cold War, and to the American public.109

In 1955 the Soviet Union created its version of the 1949 NATO pact with the Warsaw Pact.

This pact was there to maintain control in Eastern Europe, and to balance the power of NATO.110 A lot of elements of the conflict became rapidly more urgent because both countries were willing to spend manpower and money on every competition, which entailed the Space

102 Cull, Chapter 2.

103 John Foster Dulles was the Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1953-1959.

104 Storrs, 1-2.

105 Storrs, 5-10.

106 Walter A. McDougall, "Sputnik, the Space Race, and the Cold War", Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Vol.

41, No. 5 (1985), 20–25.

107 McDougall, 20-21.

108 McDougall, 20-25; Osgood, Chapter 2 & 5.

109 McDougall, 20-25; 33-37.

110 Victor Rosenberg, Soviet-American Relations, 1953-1960: Diplomacy and Cultural Exchange during the Eisenhower Presidency (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland, 2005), Chapter 3.


Race, the nuclear arms race, and the ideological fight.111 Eisenhower, who again wanted relaxation, even though he was in multiple wars during his administration, had to think of ways to win the war differently. As seen during the Space Race, the Warsaw Pact, and the spread of communism in the Third World, the Soviet Bloc was a tough opponent.112

A new way the Eisenhower administration hoped to wage the Cold War successfully was to compete for the hearts and minds around the world through his Cultural Exchange Program. This began in 1954 as the Presidents Special International Program for Cultural Presentations and was supervised by the Bureau of International Education and Cultural Affairs of the Department of State.113 Eisenhower asked Congress in August 1954 to approve a President’s Emergency Fund to establish a cultural exchange program.114 This program had to be capable of demonstrating the superiority of the cultural values of the United States. This last program got funded in 1956 under the International Culture and Trade Fairs Participation Act.115 Utilizing culture in foreign policy was the method of choice for President Dwight Eisenhower.116 It was a way of exhibiting the pleasant elements of U.S. society while demonizing the Soviet Union, which was harder to do since the devil himself, Joseph Stalin, died in 1953. The exploitation of your country’s culture to gain an advantage in an ideological war seems like the smart thing to do, if only your culture wasn’t contentious, and your country wasn’t dealing with the large internal issue that is segregation. Under the Cultural Exchange program came the People-to-People program, the Peace Corps, and the Fulbright program, who were all part of the Cultural Exchange Program, all foreign policy programs to build relationships and increase the understanding and mutual respect between a country and the United States.117

Several developments shaped postwar America into a Golden Age of American Capitalism.118 Between 1945 and 1960, the gross national product more than doubled, going

111 Rosenberg, Chapters 1 to 3.

112 McDougall, 20-25.

113 Osgood, 70–77.

114 Osgood, 78.

115 Public Law 860, August 1, 1956, ICTFP Act of 1956 (PL-806), (Retrieved October 6, 2021).

116 Michael E. Latham, Kathryn C. Statler and Andrew L. Johns, Eds., The Eisenhower Administration, the Third World, and the Globalization of the Cold War (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2008), 173-175; McMahon,

"Eisenhower and Third World Nationalism", 453-477; William I. Hitchcock, The Age of Eisenhower: America and the World in the 1950s (New York, NY: Simon and Schuster, 2018), Chapters 2 & 3.

117 Osgood; Latham; Robert William July, A History of the African People, 5th edition (Prospect Heights, Illinois: Waveland Pr Inc, 1998) Parts 3 & 4.

118 Stephen A. Marglin and Juliet B. Schor, The Golden Age of Capitalism: Reinterpreting the Postwar Experience (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991), 1-37.


from $200 billion to over $500 billion.119 Car-dependent suburbs made their entrance, technological growth brought electronic kitchens and houseware, and the American Dream was created: every family should have their own house, car, garage, and a wraparound garden.120 During this time women were urged to leave the workforce and embrace their role as a mother and as a wife. The dissatisfaction among young women grew, who wanted a more fulfilling life. Then there was the fear of the atomic bomb, which grew immensely by the numerous films featuring horrific nuclear creatures and post-apocalyptic scenarios.121

The development that had the most impact by far was the rise of the Civil Rights Movement.122 The Jim Crow laws institutionalized racial segregation since the late 19th century in the South. “Separate but equal” was the legal pretense, but in real life, it meant educational, economical, and social disadvantages for African American people.123 Ever since the formal abolishment of slavery in December 1862 under the Thirteenth Amendment, the South created new laws to negatively influence freedmen and freedwomen.124 Although there were earlier attempts to counter these Jim Crow laws, embedded racism and institutionalized segregation continued. This issue was not just visible inside their borders, the world watched the U.S.

increase their wealth while keeping the black community and other ‘colored people’ out of that wealth. Osgood notes: “When a diplomat from Nigeria was refused service in a restaurant in Virginia, for example, Nigerian newspapers expressed their “horror and dismay” at American racial discrimination.”125 This painful subject was very bad news for the U.S. government in a time of ideological conflict. During the 1950s, the U.S. State Department worried that racial relations inside the US could harm their position in the Cold War.126 At the time, dozens of countries that were decolonizing could see this as a strong reason to align with the Soviets, rather than the West. Thus, the State Department viewed the domestic civil rights movement from an internationalist political perspective.127

119 "United States (USA) GDP - Gross Domestic Product 1956",

<> (Retrieved 14 May, 2021).

120 Nigel Whiteley, "Toward a Throw-Away Culture. Consumerism, 'Style Obsolescence' and Cultural Theory in the 1950s and 1960s", Oxford Art Journal, Vol. 10, No. 2 (1987), 3–27.

121 Marglin and Schor, 1-22.

122 Monson, Chapter 2.

123 Dudziak, Cold War Civil Rights, Chapter 2 & 3; Monson, Chapter 2.

124 Dorothy Schneider and Carl J. Schneider, Slavery in America (New York City, NY: Infobase Publishing, 2014), Chapter 3.

125 Osgood, 277.

126 Dudziak, Cold War Civil Rights, Chapters 2 & 4; Osgood, Chapter 2.

127 Monson, 5.


Many countries, postcolonial or on the verge of decolonization, viewed the race discrimination of America as an issue of colonialism.128 Countries in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa, who still had to pick a side in the Cold War even though both camps were far from ideal, saw modern and independent America treating their freedmen and women as unequal to the white population.129 The fate of Africa and anticolonialism more broadly was consistently perceived as intertwined with the Jim Crow laws and the Civil Rights Movement, especially by African American newspapers.130 The United States was outwards against colonization and imperialism in international relations. This made the U.S. a hypocrite in the eyes of others, and an easy target for the Soviet Union.

The first nail in the coffin of the Jim Crow laws, or at least the first constitutional legal nail was the case of Brown versus Board of Education in 1951 until 1954, a case that went to the Supreme Court.131 Oliver Brown, a black man, brought suit after his daughter was denied enrollment in an all-white elementary school in his hometown of Topeka, Kansas. Kansas, together with Missouri, was one of the states that were part of a large migration route of freedmen and women escaping the South that happened mostly between 19176 and 1970, but large areas in the city of these states remained heavily segregated.132 Bureaucratic regulations made it all but impossible for black people to buy or rent a house and go to school in certain areas. At the same time, white citizens moved from the city center to the first ring of suburbs.133 When the Supreme Court ruled in 1954 that segregated schools are inherently unequal, it brought a wind of change. Then there was the Montgomery Bus Boycott in Alabama in 1955, that started with political activist Rosa Parks who refused to give up her bus seat to a white person.134 This bus boycott was effective, also thanks to the Baptist pastor Martin Luther King Jr. who supported Parks through the whole process. The Supreme Court agreed with the local Alabama court in 1956 that segregation laws in buses were unconstitutional and the city of Montgomery decided that people can sit wherever they want.135

128 Osgood, 277.

129 Rahaman, Yeazdani, and Mahmud, 9-14; McMahon, “Eisenhower and Third World Nationalism”, 460-473;

McMahon, The Cold War in the Third World, Chapter 6.

130 Monson, 107.

131 Richard Kluger, Simple Justice: The History of Brown v. Board of Education and Black America’s Struggle for Equality (New York City, NY: Vintage, 2011), 3-26; Chief Justice Earl Warren, ‘Brown v. Board of Education’, United States Reports, 347.1954 (1954), 483.

132 Kluger 3-26.

133 Von Eschen, Race against Empire, Chapter 6; Kluger, 14-26; Warren, 483.

134 David J. Garrow, "The Origins of the Montgomery Bus Boycott", Southern Changes, Vol. 7, No. 5 (1985), 21–27.

135 Robert Jerome Glennon, "The Role of Law in the Civil Rights Movement: The Montgomery Bus Boycott, 1955-1957", Law and History Review, Vol. 9, No. 1 (1991), 59–112.




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