Cold War Civil Rights: Race and the Image of American Democracy

By Mary L. Dudziak | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 5
Losing Control in Camelot

The shortest line between America and Addis
Ababa is now a straight wire from Alabama.

AMERICAN EMBASSY, NIAMEY,
TO DEPARTMENT OF STATE, MAY 21, 19631

On June 26, 1961, Malick Sow of the African nation of Chad was on his way to Washington. The first ambassador to the United States from this newly independent nation, Ambassador Sow planned to present his credentials to President John F. Kennedy. The ambassador's drive from New York, the site of the United Nations, to Washington, D.C., took him along Route 40 through Maryland. Sow stopped along the highway for gas. Hoping to ease a headache, he also stopped in at a diner for a cup of coffee. What happened in the diner would not make Sow feel better but would instead create a headache for the Kennedy Administration of an entirely different sort. The ambassador was refused service. This diner did not serve blacks.2

Ambassador Sow was one of many African diplomats discriminated against on Route 40 and elsewhere in the United States. Such incidents were more than embarrassing to the diplomats and to the Kennedy administration. They threatened U.S. relations with an important new bloc of independent nations. Sow himself felt

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Cold War Civil Rights: Race and the Image of American Democracy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents ix
  • Illustrations xi
  • Introduction 3
  • Chapter 1 - Coming to Terms with Cold War Civil Rights 18
  • Chapter 2 - Telling Stories About Race and Democracy 47
  • Chapter 3 - Fighting the Cold War with Civil Rights Reform 79
  • Chapter 4 - Holding the Line in Little Rock 115
  • Chapter 5 - Losing Control in Camelot 152
  • Chapter 6 - Shifting the Focus of America's Image Abroad 203
  • Conclusion 249
  • Notes 255
  • Acknowledgments 311
  • Index 317
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