At the heart of America’s understanding of its own history is an assumed story of progress. This story of progress is often the lens through which Americans (and American historians) have viewed current and past events. The history of the Civil Rights Movement is no different. It was, and has long been, understood as an inevitable outcome of society, a confirmation of Whig history in the twentieth-century.
However, Dudziak’s work undermines this understanding by arguing that the ‘grand narrative’ of the Civil Rights Movement was actually a well crafted propaganda campaign the United States used to further international interests during the Cold War. Brown, far from being an inevitable outcome, was a purposeful ruling that allowed the United States to portray meaningful change without it actually happening. The nation HAD NOT progressed but Brown allowed Americans to declare progress none-the-less. What does this mean?
It means that The New York Times can release a podcast yesterday titled Why Did New York’s Most Selective Pubic High School Admit only 7 Black Students? (https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/02/podcasts/the-daily/black-students-nyc-high-school.html) yet people will still argue that America does not have inequality in education. If people assume Brown was an inevitable outcome of progress then they can assume that the nation no longer has issues of racism or inequality in education, effectively shielding themselves from important arguments over issues that persist today. Re-framing Brown as a Cold War case helps to undermine this assumed progress and create room for a broader discussion regarding the reality of the issues that still exist today.