Jim Crow's Coming Out: Race Relations and American Foreign Policy in the Truman Years



This article examines the ways in which race relations and foreign affairs intersected for the United States between 1945 and 1952. It draws on an array of archival and other primary as well as secondary sources to focus on the manner in which the Truman administration responded to pressures for racial reform both in the international sphere (decolonization) and in the domestic sphere (civil rights organizing). It finds that the segregationist backgrounds of elite American policy makers were a crucial element in official U.S. policies regarding civil rights and decolonization. It places postwar struggles over segregation and racial equality at home in the context of similar global struggles. And it argues that there was a surprising malleability to the concept of “race” and to racial designations in these years. It concludes that much, but not all, changed along the color line in the Truman years.