Broader Implications of Understanding Brown as A Cold War Case

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? ( 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.

One Reply to “Broader Implications of Understanding Brown as A Cold War Case”

  1. I like your connections being made between modern events and the case of Brown vs. Board of Education (I can’t figure out how to italicize here). Also, I was unaware of the connections of the Cold War and that case, so thank you for shedding light on that for me. Making these kinds of connections I believe show that history is not only an interesting topic to learn, but relevant and useful. I do agree with your final paragraph that people can tend to avoid important and tense issues. It is obviously the easier thing to do (but not the right thing) to just sit back and claim that all the problems are fixed then to actually face them and try to make a good change. I think people are too quick to accept the “progress” than to actually research and see what the reality of current (and past) issues entail. I suppose the next question that follows is how to deal with the issues that exist today. Touching on the New York Times article, I checked the statistics and was curious why the admission rates have declined instead of increased over the years, especially since the mayor proposed a plan to increase diversity in the New York selective school systems.

Leave a Reply