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GlobetrottingAfrican American Athletes and Cold War Politics$
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Damion L. Thomas

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780252037177

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252037177.001.0001

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“The Good Negroes”

“The Good Negroes”

Propaganda and the Racial Crisis

(p.103) 4. “The Good Negroes”

Damion L. Thomas

University of Illinois Press

This chapter explores President Eisenhower's and President Kennedy's widespread use of symbolic gestures in the realm of civil rights—including the extensive use of African Americans as cultural ambassadors. It argues that both administrations waged an unsuccessful battle to alter international perceptions of U.S. race relations. To illustrate this point, this chapter focuses on the goodwill tours of Mal Whitfield and Rafer Johnson, both of whom were abroad touring in close proximity to the unrest in Little Rock, Arkansas, that was sparked by efforts to desegregate Central High School in 1957. By juxtaposing international coverage of Little Rock with the reception of Whitfield's and Johnson's tours, this chapter suggests that the propaganda campaigns were not able to drastically alter international perceptions of U.S. race relations.

Keywords:   U.S. race relations, civil rights, Mal Whitfield, Rafer Johnson, desegregation, international coverage, propaganda campaigns, Eisenhower administration, Kennedy administration

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