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As World War II drew to a close and the world awakened to the horrors wrought by white supremacists in Nazi Germany, the NAACP and African-American leaders sensed an opportunity to launch an offensive against the conditions of segregation and inequality in the United States. The "prize" they sought was not civil rights, but human rights. Only the human rights lexicon, shaped by the Holocaust and articulated by the United Nations, contained the language and the moral power to address not only the political and legal inequality but also the education, health care, housing, and employment needs that haunted the black community. The NAACP understood this and wielded its influence and resources to take its human rights agenda before the United Nations. But the onset of the Cold War and rising anti-communism allowed powerful southerners to cast those rights as Soviet-inspired and a threat to the American "ways of life." Enemies and friends excoriated the movement, and the NAACP retreated to a narrow civil rights agenda that was easier to maintain politically. Thus the Civil Rights Movement was launched with neither the language nor the mission it needed to truly achieve black equality. Carol Anderson is the recipient of major grants from the Ford Foundation and the American Council of Learned Societies, and numerous awards for excellence in teaching. Her scholarly interests are 20th century American, African-American, and diplomatic history, and the impact of the Cold War and U.S. foreign policy on the struggle for black equality in particular. Her publications include "From Hope to Disillusion published in Diplomatic History and reprinted in The African-American Voice in U.S. Foreign Policy.Read more
- A well-researched addition to the history of American foreign relations
- Defines the struggle for black equality as a human rights, not a civil rights issue
- Compels re-evaluation of Harry Truman, Eleanor Roosevelt and the NAACP
- Co-Winner of the 2003 Gustavus Myers Outstanding Book Award
Reviews & endorsements
"Carol Anderson has written the most thoroughly researched and interpretively sophisticated monograph on Cold War civil rights. Eyes Off the Prize is destined to become a benchmark for the field." David Levering Lewis, Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer of W.E.B. DuBoisSee more reviews
"An outstanding and timely study. Meticulously researched, boldly written, and persuasively argued, it clearly illustrates exactly where and precisely how the broadly based NAACP program of human rights got eviscerated during the 1940s and early 1950s, producing a narrowly focused and tantalizingly inadequate series of civil rights measures. Above all this book emphasizes the blatant ways in which the issue of race indelibly permeates all aspects of politics, society and economy in the United States." Franklin W. Knight, Leonard and Helen R. Stulman Professor, Johns Hopkins University
"Carol Anderson, has written an exciting political narrative history of African-American attempts to raise the issue of human rights before the United Nations in order to attack de jure and de facto segregation and racism in the US in the early post World War II period. Anderson's fascinating political narrative portrays the intense and complicated internal politics that characterized the NAACP, the pre-war National Negro Congress, and the post-war Civil Rights Congress...this is an very valuable work for students of African-American and general US history." Canadian Journal of History/Annales canadiennes d'histoire, Norman D. Markowitz, Rutgers University
"This narrative of the NAACP challenges conventional interpretations of how America's foremost civil rights organization negotiated the dangerous currents of the Cold War. Eyes Off the Prize is deeply researched and authoritatively written. Carol Anderson's vivid prose richly illuminates the history of the connection between civil rights and international affairs." Brenda Gayle Plummer, author of Rising Wind: Black Americans and U.S. Foreign Affairs, 1935-1960
"This is a terrific book that makes an important and distinctive contribution to the growing literature on race and U.S. foreign relations." Mary L. Dudziak, author of Cold War Civil Rights: Race and the Image of American Democracy
"Eyes Off the Prize is exhaustively researched, carefully crafted, skillfully and passionately argued, thought-provoking, insightful, and enormously valuable. It is extremely good in examining how the volatile mixture of personalities with mixed motives, domestic politics, and foreign affairs combined to influence the direction of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement in the context of the struggle for the larger prize of human rights. It is a remarkable and a powerful book." Paul Gordon Lauren, author of Power and Prejudice: The Politics and Diplomacy of Racial Discrimination
"...a rich historical narrative..." Journal of African American History
"A well-written and densely researched work...an important contribution." The Journal of Southern History
"...this is an impressive and valuable book." Political Science Quarterly
"Carol Anderson, has written an exciting political narrative history of African-American attempts to raise the isse of human rights before the United Nations in order to attack de jure and de facto segregation and racism in the US in the early post World War II period. Anderson's fascinating political narrative portrays the intense and complicated internal politics that characterized the NAACP, the pre-war National Negro Congress, and the post-war Civil Rights Congress...this is a very valuable work for students of African-American and general US history." Canadian Journal of History/Annales canadiennes d'histoire, Norman D. Markowitz, Rutgers University
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- Date Published: April 2003
- format: Paperback
- isbn: 9780521531580
- length: 318 pages
- dimensions: 229 x 150 x 20 mm
- weight: 0.48kg
- contains: 19 b/w illus.
- availability: Available
Table of Contents
Introduction: the struggle for black equality
1. Beyond Civil Rights: the NAACP, the United Nations, and redefining the struggle for black equality
2. The struggle for human rights: African Americans petition the United Nations
3. Things fall apart
4. Bleached souls and red negroes
5. The mirage of victory
Epilogue: the prize.
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