During the early years of the cold war (1957-1963), photographs of civil rights brutalities tarnishedAmerica sreputation as a just andfair nation at a time when it hoped to contain communism and reshape the world in its image. By drawing upon u.s. government sources and international press coverage, this study examines four milestones in the civil rights struggle wherephotographs generated intense overseas reaction: school desegregation in Little Rock, Arkansas (1957), attacks on Freedom Riders in Alabama (1961), James Meredith’s enrollment at the University of Mississippi (1962), and the crisis in Birmingham, Alabama (1963). In the days before television became a global medium, still photographs of racial violence created difficulties for u.s. diplomats overseas and policymakers at home by aiding America s enemies and raising serious concerns among its allies and the unaligned nations. By showing the world the civil rights injustices that undermined democracy, these images of brutality helpedforce the United States to reaffirm its democratic ideals.
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