In the period following World War II, the federal government devoted more time and attention to civil rights reform and legislation than it had since the end of Reconstruction in 1876. Despite the impressive literature that analyzes the modern civil rights movement, its connection to American foreign policy during and after the war remains largely unexplored. Focusing on this gap, Professor Layton shows that the revolutionary changes in world politics created by the war also created new opportunities and pressure points for reforming U.S. race policies. The Holocaust, the dismantling of colonial empires, the Cold War, and the establishment of the United Nations all contributed to a new receptivity to civil rights reform in both the executive and judicial branches of the federal government. And, as Professor Layton describes, civil rights leaders quickly recognized the opportunities presented by the new international environment and were able to use them in exerting their own pressure to enact domestic policy reforms.
'In this gem of a study, Azza Layton documents an untold part of the American civil rights story and, in the process, teaches social movement theorists how international conditions can influence prospects for movement success.' Theda Skocpol, Harvard University 'The literature on the domestic history of the civil rights movement in the USA is vast. But not until Azza Layton's study has there been a major examination of the international dimensions of this movement. She essentially breaks new ground, brilliantly disclosing the remarkable extent to which civil rights leaders in America looked to foreign actors for support and leverage in their own struggle.' Walter Dean Burnham, The University of Texas, Austin 'An empirically rich, theoretically important account of the role of international pressure in the Cold War shift in US civil rights policy. Not only does the book represent a significant contribution to the historiography of the civil rights struggle, but an important corrective to the 'nation-centric' focus of most social movement research.' Douglas McAdam, Stanford University