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Red Scare Racism and Cold War Black Radicalism$
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James Zeigler

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781496802385

Published to University Press of Mississippi: January 2017

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781496802385.001.0001

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date: 19 January 2019

Un-American Schooling: Anticommunist Discourse and Martin Luther King Jr.

Un-American Schooling: Anticommunist Discourse and Martin Luther King Jr.

(p.18) Chapter One Un-American Schooling: Anticommunist Discourse and Martin Luther King Jr.
Red Scare Racism and Cold War Black Radicalism

James Zeigler

University Press of Mississippi

This chapter concentrates on popular tropes and cultural narratives that represent criticism of capitalism as pathological and un-American. The chief example of this Red Scare rhetoric is a John Birch Society billboard campaign that pretends to discover Martin Luther King Jr.’s at a Communist training school. The photograph of King on the billboards was actually taken at the Highlander Folk School in Tennessee. To demonstrate how the civil rights movement had to contend with anticommunism, the chapter examines the speech King delivered in 1957 on the occasion misrepresented by the billboard and contrasts it to his Riverside Address against the war in Vietnam a decade later. Contrary to the view that King’s politics shifted from liberalism to black radicalism, a change in his use of temporal metaphors reveals his opposition to capitalism was continuous but illuminated by his late realization that anticommunism facilitated U.S. imperialism to the detriment of decolonization.

Keywords:   Martin Luther King Jr., Civil rights movement, Highlander Folk School, Riverside Address, Black radicalism

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