+1(978)310-4246 credencewriters@gmail.com
  

Part 1:

Only pick the country and few sources. The research paper will not begin until I know which country was picked.

In this project you will ultimately produce an approximately 1000-1500 word research paper (4-6 pages double spaced, not including bibliography) on a specific country anywhere in the world and its current human rights record and challenges (this can be any country, including the US, but it must be a country, see below for how to engage with the populations that are *un*represented by our system of national sovereignty in human rights implementation).  This paper will engage many of the questions of sovereignty that will be raised throughout the quarter, as well as questions about human rights oversight bodies and agencies.

– By now you should have narrowed down the country you would like to research for your country research paper, so please submit the country name and one source you’ve found so far on the country here (this should be a source related to your analysis of the country’s human rights record).

Part 2:

Attached is the two reading for this part

These short weekly reading journal posts (400-500 words) will be your opportunity to reflect critically on the readings assigned for that week.  These posts are an exercise in engaging

all

of the reading questions provided using evidence from the reading and also beginning to ask your own questions.  Each response should include at least 2-3 pieces of evidence for your ideas from the reading you are responding to; at least 1-2 statements of your own analysis of the reading; and (overall for the entire post) at least 1-2 questions that you have identified as thought-provoking or interesting to you in the readings.  Please number your answers indicating your response to each question.  The lowest reading journal post grade will be dropped.

Jensen marshals a thorough historical survey to question the universality of the blossoming human rights paradigm.

Discuss one example from the reading that cast doubt on the universality of the UDHR.

Discuss one example that bolstered the claim of universality.

What was the Bandung conference? The participants in this conference focused on what right?

What does Anderson’s chapter tell us about the indivisibility of the different categories of human rights (civil, political, social, economic, cultural)? Were they divided? What was the problem?

Anderson explains that domestic pressures in the U.S. to protect white supremacy lead to compromises that weakened the enforcement structures of human rights. Describe one of these compromises.

Bringing Human
Rights Home
Volume 1
A History of Human Rights
in the United States
Edited by
CYNTHIA SOOHOO, CATHERINE ALBISA,
AND MARTHA F. DAVIS
Foreword by Louise Arbour
Praeger Perspectives
Westport, Connecticut
London
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Bringing human rights home/ edited by Cynthia Soohoo, Catherine Albisa, and
Martha F. Davis ; foreword by Louise Arbour.
p. cm.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 978-0-275-98821-0 (set: alk. paper)­
ISBN 978-0-275-98822-7 (vol.l: alk. paper)­
ISBN 978-0-275-98823-4 (vol. 2: alk. paper)­
ISBN 978-0-275-98824-l (vol.3: alk. paper)
1. Human rights-United States. 2. Human rights-United States-History. 3. Civil
rights-United States-History. 4. Social justice-United States. 5. United States-Foreign
relations. I. Soohoo, Cynthia. II. Albisa, Catherine. III. Davis, Martha F., l 957JC599.U5.B694 2008
2007040492
323.0973-dc22
British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data is available.
Copyright © 2008 by Cynthia Soohoo, Catherine Albisa, and Martha F. Davis
All rights reserved. No portion of this book may be
reproduced, by any process or technique, without the
express written consent of the publisher.
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 2007040492
ISBN-13: 978-0-275-98821-0 (set)
978-0-275-98822-7 (vol. 1)
978-0-275-98823-4 (vol. 2)
978-0-275-98824-l (vol. 3)
First published in 2008
Praeger Publishers, 88 Post Road West, Westport, CT 06881
An imprint of Greenwood Publishing Group, Inc.
www.praeger.com
Printed in the United States of America
The paper used in this book complies with the
Permanent Paper Standard issued by the National
Information Standards Organization (Z39 .48-1984).
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Contents
Foreword by Louise Arbour
Vll
Preface
lX
Acknowledgments
Introduction to Volume 1
Martha F. Davis
Xlll
xv
Chapter 1
A Human Rights Lens on U.S. History: Human
Rights at Home and Human Rights Abroad
Paul Gordon Lauren
1
Chapter 2
FDR’s Four Freedoms and Wartime
Transformations in America’s Discourse of Rights
Elizabeth Bm:gwardt
31
Chapter 3
Louis Henkin and Human Rights: A New Deal
at Home and Abroad
Catherine Powell
57
Chapter 4
A “Hollow Mockery”: African Americans,
White Supremacy, and the Development of
Human Rights in the United States
Carol Anderson
75
“New” Human Rights: U.S. Ambivalence Toward the
International Economic and Social Rights Framework
Hope Lewis
103
Chapter 5
CONTENTS
VI
Chapter 6
Blazing a Path from Civil Rights to Human Rights:
The Pioneering Career of Gay McDougall
Vanita Gupta
Appendixes
Index
About the Editors and Contributors
145
161
249
255
CHAPTER4
A “Hollow Mocl(ery”:
African Americans, White
Supremacy, and the
Development of Human
Rights in the United States
Carol Anderson
Compelled to state the obvious, Walter White, executive secretary of the
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP),
explained to several congressional leaders that “Democracy doesn’t mean
much to man with an empty belly.” 1 Although the context of that discussion
was on human rights in the emerging nations, White (and the NAACP) had
earlier grasped that that particular maxim was equally applicable to the United
States.From the organization’s long, hard years battling Jim Crow, the Asso­
ciation realized that political and economic rights had to converge. One could
not carry the heavy burden of equality all alone. The NAACP fully recog­
nized, nonetheless, that most people of color had never even experienced
political democracy.For millions of African Americans, the right to vote, to
participate in civil society, to enjoy the freedoms associated with checks on
government abuse, and to benefit from the protection of civil rights had be­
come articles of faith, pillars of hope, and the ephemera of dreams, but cer­
tainly not the substance of reality. Indeed, much of black life in America fo­
cused on how systematically and completely those basic civil rights were
repeatedly denied, ignored, and trampled on.
A new, major study, for example, focuses on the NAACP’s almost 100-year­
long battle to integrate African Americans into the political life of the United
States.2 In the early years, the white primary, election-day terrorism, and the
poll tax had eliminated generations from the voting booth. Historian Man­
fred Berg, therefore, notes that by the time of the 1942 congressional elec­
tions one report “estimated that . .. only 3 percent of the total population
of the seven poll tax states had cast their ballots, compared to 25 percent in
the rest of the nation.” In fact “[m]ore votes were cast in Rhode Island, the
76
A HISTORY OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE UNITED STATES
smallest state in the Union with roughly seven hundred thousand residents
and two representatives, than for all of the thirty-seven representatives of Ala­
bama, Mississippi, Georgia, Virginia, and South Carolina, with a total popu­
lation of more than 11 million.”3 Yet, as important as the right to vote was
and is, the quest for equality would require more than simply ending disen­
franchisement. As Walter White indicated, if black life was really going to be
about life and not just survival, there was something beyond civil rights that
had to be achieved.
The NAACP, the nation’s largest, oldest, and most influential civil rights
organization, had, therefore, slowly but surely begun to grasp the power and
importance of economic rights in the struggle for equality. 4 The first glint
came during the Great Depression. That economic meltdown had brought a
horrific spike in the killing of black America as the number of lynchings and
the degree of sadistic, spectacle violence increased. The Depression had also
led to scores of impoverished black sharecroppers being driven off the land
so that plantation owners could reap multimillion-dollar windfalls from the
New Deal. And, while the overall unemployment rate in the United States
was a crushing 25 percent, the jobless rate in the black community hovered
well above 50 percent overall and in some cities lingered at a death-defying
80 percent. The right to vote, or any other civil right, was not going to solve
this alone.Stark, raving abject poverty had black America buckling under the
strain.5
The onset of World War II did little, initially, to ease this burden. While
the United States’s emergence as the “arsenal of democracy” finally gave
most whites freedom from the economic devastation of the Great Depres­
sion, rampant discrimination in the defense industries and, frankly, through­
out most sectors of the employment market kept African Americans locked
out and locked down. More than half of the defense industries surveyed by
the United States Employment Service, for example, “stated flatly that they
would not” hire an African American for any position. 6
Thus, as the United States prepared to destroy regimes championing Aryan
andJapanese supremacy, economic and political oppression continued to con­
verge like a vise on black life in America. From education, to medical care, to
housing, to employment, to the court systems, even to the hallowed ground
of the vote, there was no escaping the fact that there was, indeed, a “flagrant
disparity” between the lofty rhetoric and the actual practice of American de­
mocracy. Presidential candidate Wendell Willkie would call it the “mocking
paradoxes.”7 TheJapanese government was even more blunt. The American
people, Emperor Hirohito’s regime declared, have “‘run amuck’ in an orgy
ofJim Crowism. “8
The killing of Cleo Wright, less than a month after the attack on Pearl Har­
bor, was painfully illustrative. In January 1942, while the United States was
spelling out for the entire world its postwar human rights vision, Wright was
lynched in Sikeston, Missouri. There was no question that he had brutally
assaulted a white woman. There was also no doubt that, while resisting arrest,
the black laborer had slashed a cavernous hole through half of a deputy’s face.
And it was, therefore, equally certain that Cleo Wright, staggering under the
effects of “bad whiskey,” had just committed the ultimate transgressions,
A “HOLLOW MOCKERY”
77
especially for a black man in Jim Crow America, in an area of the country
where African Americans barely earned $50 a year, where nearly 100 African
American families, denied access to new public housing, stayed in tents year­
round, and where other blacks “lived in cabins behind the northeast homes of
wealthy whites, or in . .. alley quarters . . . ‘unfit for human habitation.’ ” 9
The attempted rape of a white woman and the knifing of a sheriff led to a
blistering counterattack. When it was over, Wright, bloodied, pistol-whipped,
and suffering from at least eight gunshot wounds, was taken to the only avail­
able medical facility in the area, a “whites only” hospital, where, with no pain­
killers, the doctor patched, stitched, and plugged up what he could. An over­
night stay was, of course, out of the question. Bandaged and hovering near
death, Wright was eventually packed off to the local jail. Although the end
was a foregone conclusion, either through his numerous wounds or Missouri’s
criminal justice system, the “good folk ” of Sikeston had concluded that a
plain, old, run-of-the-mill death was not going to be enough. Black men may
have accounted for nearly 90 percent of all executions in the United States
for the offense of rape, but there were some lessons that no judge, no jury,
and no hooded executioner could ever deliver. 10 The criminal justice system
was just not fast enough or brutal enough to compensate for the fact that
“[t]hese damn niggers are getting too smart, ” “too cocky, ” and were “just
looking for a lynching.” 1 1
In the twilight hours, angry whites stormed the jail, overpowered the state
troopers, pulled an unconscious Wright from his cell, hooked his bullet­
riddled body to the bumper of a car, and set out for the black neighborhood.
After trolling Sikeston’s black district that Sunday morning with their maca­
bre bumper ornament in tow, his lynchers cut Wright’s mangled body from
the car, soaked him in five gallons of gasoline, and lit a match.Wright, some­
how miraculously still alive, let out an agonizing wail. In his last grasp for life,
Wright’s flame-whipped arms “reached skyward as if pleading for a mercy
that did not come ” while the thick putrid smoke from his roasting carcass
poured through the windows of the packed local black church.1 2 “This was, ”
of course, “not a matter of executing justice.” The point, as the lynchers
made clear, was “to terrify the Negro population and to show them who
was boss. ” 13 The lessons, however, were still not over. Although it was well
known who, precisely, had participated in every phase of the lynching-from
the storming of the jail to tossing the lit match on the black man’s gasoline­
soaked body-a “federal grand jury refused to return any indictments ”
because although the murderers “had denied Wright due process, . .. they
had committed no federal offense since Wright was either already dead or
dying.” 14
The black press erupted, “Remember Pearl Harbor … and Sikeston,
Missouri.” 15 The NAACP’s report, while more restrained, was in its own way
equally incendiary. This was war. Although the battle against the Axis powers
was evident, there was an equally important battle to be fought at home.
African Americans (and whomever their allies may be) were going to have to
eliminate, root and branch, the economic and political conditions that had
led to the killing of Cleo Wright and all of the thousands of Cleo Wrights that
had gone before him. “[N]o change in legal procedure alone will solve the
78
A HISTORY 01′ HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE UNITED STATES
problem,” the NAACP concluded. “Its roots are buried too deep in racial
feeling and in our economic set-up. In southeast Missouri today Negroes …
have never had an opportunity to develop beyond their position as serfs.” In
fact, because blacks “were imported to pick cotton,” the report continued,
there had been a concerted, conscious effort to ensure that they would have
“little education and little earning power.” The general fear was that “if they
were educated they” might actually refuse to toil for pennies a day in the
plantation owners’ fields and, as a consequence, just “might be more trouble­
some.” The NAACP ‘s investigators concluded that it was the economic sys­
tem that had left African Americans mercilessly exposed to the political and
economic ravages of white supremacy. As a result, the Association insisted,
there was only one way out of this abyss. “The change from feudalism to a
system whereby Negroes can earn enough to stand independently on their
own, can only come . . . when the Negro reaches a point where he merits and
receives respect as an independent individual with human rights.” 16
The Association, in short, recognized that that horrible moment in
Missouri-a lynching designed to terrorize and remind the economically de­
pressed and politically vulnerable African American population of their “place”
in the racial hierarchy; a “whites only” hospital that virtually ignored the
medical needs of thousands of its residents; a readily identifiable black part of
town that reflected the housing segregation, substandard education, and
poverty wages that haunted African Americans; an all-white political power
structure that fretted over the excessive violence of the lynching but was
more concerned about maintaining a cheap, exploitable labor supply; and a
judicial system that weighed guilt and innocence on racially rigged scales that
denigrated black life and privileged whiteness-was but a microcosm of the
human rights violations that had dogged African American communities for
centuries. Cleo Wright was no aberration. 17
That had to change. For the NAACP, the right to education was the well­
spring of that change. 18 Education could broaden employment opportuni­
ties, provide access to better-paying jobs, create the wherewithal for quality
housing, break the back of and expose the racist underpinnings of literacy
tests, poll taxes, and other tools of disenfranchisement, and develop the
healthcare system to meet the needs of millions who had little or no access to
decent medical treatment.
That kind of education, however, was decidedly unavailable, especially for
blacks in the America of World War II. One report on the status of black
America in the early 1940s noted that “[a ]pproximately four-fifths of all Ne­
groes in the United States have had access to none other than segregated
schools for their public education. To thousands of Negroes in the South,
not even segregated schools have been available.” 19 And, to be clear, the
education served up to black people may have been separate, as Plessy al­
lowed, but it certainly lacked the equality, which Plessy required. The federal
government estimated in 1941 that it would take the equivalent, in 2005
dollars, of more than $4.2 billion to equalize the black school system in the
United States. 20 The NAACP noted that when it came to state investment
in school facilities “252% more money was spent on each white child than
was spent on each Negro child in the same community-ranging from 28.5%
A “HOLLOW MOCKERY”
79
in Oklahoma to 73 1.9% in Mississippi. In some counties the difference is
1500%.” 21 A newspaper in Jackson, Mississippi, was even compelled to remark
on the staggering disparities. Although African American children comprised
nearly 60 percent of the school age population in Jackson, they received
“only 9 percent of the budget.” 22 This pattern repeated itself throughout the
state like a debilitating refrain. By 1940, more than half of all African Ameri­
can adults in Mississippi had less than five years of formal education; almost
12 percent had no schooling whatsoever.The figures for the “mis-education
of the Negro ” were even higher in South Carolina, Louisiana, Georgia, and
Alabama.23
The fact that there were millions of uneducated, barely educated, and mis­
educated held major repercussions for nearly every sector of black life in
America. The effect on the healthcare system was immediately apparent.There
was a critical need for African American physicians throughout the United
States’s segregated healthcare system but there were only a few who could
slog through the miasma of Jim Crow education to meet that overwhelming
demand. This chronic shortage was, unfortunately, exacerbated by the dis­
criminatory admissions policies of universities and medical schools through­
out the United States.In Philadelphia, for example, which housed five different
medical schools, “only eighteen Negroes have been graduated …in twenty­
seven years.” In New York, “no Negro enrolled at Cornell University College
of Medicine at any time between 1920 and 1942 ” and Columbia University
destroyed its admissions records when asked to provide racial data on medical
school applicants and enrollees. In fact, only “eighty-five colored students are
currently enrolled in twenty Northern and Western schools, as against 25,000
whites. About fifteen Negroes are graduate from these schools each year.”24
With the bulk of higher education closed to African Americans, two his­
torically black universities, Howard University Medical School and Meharry
Medical College, accounted for nearly “85 per cent of all the Negro doctors
now in practice.” 2 5 Despite their herculean effort, however, those two medi­
cal colleges did not have the capacity to produce a sufficient number of
doctors to meet the healthcare needs of a malnourished, impoverished population, whose life expectancy rate was nearly a decade less than whites and
whose infant mortality rates were double. That is to say, while the American
Medical Association had determined that the minimum ratio of doctor to
population was one for every 1,500, the ratio in the black community was
more than twice that. On average, in the 1940s, there was only one African
American “doctor for every 333 7 Negroes. …In Mississippi the ratio is one
to 18,527.” 26
Dr. Roscoe Conkling Brown, Chief of the Office of Negro Health Work
for the United States Public Health Service, summarized the conditions that
had created this crisis.”Poor housing, malnutrition, ignorance, and inadequate
access to basic health essentials-hospitals, clinics, medical care-are among
the social factors contributing to the Negro’s health status. This racial group
‘has a problem of such size and complexity,’ ” he noted, “as to challenge
the leadership of both the Negro and white races to intelligently, coura­
geously, and persistently prosecute for the nation a definite program of general
health betterment for all people without recrimination or discrimination.” 27
80
A HISTORY OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE UNITED STATES
The NAACP, whose chairman of the board was Dr. Louis T. Wright, chief of
surgery at Harlem Hospital, decided that this challenge and all of the other
challenges surrounding the human rights of African Americans had to be met.
The war and the language of war proved an important vehicle in the As­
sociation’s fight to make human rights a viable force in the United States. In
1941, before Pearl Harbor, and despite President Franklin Roosevelt’s con­
cerns as he watched one European nation after the next being mowed under
by the German Wehrmacht, isolationists had effectively blocked American
entry into the war. Although Britain now stood alone as the thin dividing line
between the democratic West and the global domination of Nazi Germany,
the isolationists, haunted by the legacy of World War I, dug in. Senator George
Aiken (R-VT) summarized the sentiment best when he noted that: “The
farm and village folk of my State . . . would go all the way, down to the last
dollar and the last man, to protect Canada. But they do not see why Ameri­
can boys should give their lives to define the boundaries of African colonies,
or to protect American promoters or exploiters in Indochina or New Guinea.
Neither do I.” 28 This was the implacable resistance that President Roosevelt
and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill had to overcome.
On August 14, 1941, they issued the Atlantic Charter to make clear that
this was not like World War I.This was not about secret treaties, secret clauses,
colonial swap meets, and territorial envy. Rather, the war against the Nazis
was different. A victory this time would create a better, new world order. This
brave new world, the Atlantic Charter proclaimed, would be predicated on
justice, democracy, and human rights. Historian Elizabeth Borgwardt bril­
liantly lays out, though, that the message in the Atlantic Charter was, in fact,
many messages. It had one specific meaning for the British, another for the
American government, and a decidedly different one for those living under
racial oppression.29
The Atlantic Charter’s language was specific enough, eloquent enough,
and vague enough to envelope a range of interpretations. African Americans
clearly saw it as a way out of no way. The second and third points of the At­
lantic Charter, for example, spoke of self-determination, that all people had
the right to choose their own government. That bedrock principle of democ­
racy would, ironically enough, prove particularly troublesome for the two
leaders. The people who lived in Britain’s colonial possessions did not have
the right to vote, could not choose their leaders or what form of government
they wanted.Was Churchill finally saying that Hitler’s attack, besides bring­
ing Britain to its knees, had also brought the nation to its senses? And in the
United States, African Americans, particularly in the South, were systemati­
cally denied the right to vote, denied the right to choose their governmental
officials and the right to have a political voice in shaping the conditions under
which they lived, worked, and died. Did this pledge from the president of the
United States mean that the federal government was now finally going to
compel Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina, Louisiana, and the rest of the
states to adhere to the Constitution and the Atlantic Charter? The African
American leadership certainly thought that it did.
The Atlantic Charter offered more than mere self-determination, how­
ever. The fifth point in that historic document truly seemed to be the dawn
A “HOLLOW MOCKERY”
81
of a new world order. The United States and Britain pledged “to bring about
the fullest collaboration between all nations in the economic field with the
object of securing, for all, improved labor standards, economic advancement
and social security.”30 The phrase “for all” was unintentionally but decidedly
revolutionary. The leaders seemed to promise that the world’s citizens would
finally have human rights-better working conditions, better and increasing
pay, and a safety net of economic security. The British and American leader­
ship had grasped that it was the destabilization in the world markets, which
had then avalanched into the Great Depression, that had made Hitler so ap­
pealing to the Germans. Roosevelt and Churchill were determined that never
again would a nation’s economy be so ravaged that the only way out of dark­
ness was through a raving demagogue like Adolf Hitler. Although this may
have been the intention of the president and prime minister, African Ameri­
cans, whose living conditions were simply appalling, interpreted this as a
pledge by the federal government to remove the barriers that had systemati­
cally prevented them from reaping the benefits from centuries of the unpaid
and barely paid hard labor, which had built the wealthiest nation on earth.
Moreover, this vision of a new world, where there would never, ever be
another Cleo Wright, was, for African Americans, encapsulated in the sixth
principle of the Atlantic Charter. Roosevelt and Churchill averred that “after
the final destruction of the Nazi tyranny, they hope to see established a peace
which … will afford assurance that all the men in all the lands may live out
their lives in freedom from fear and want. ” 31 This, of course, was intended to
put a halt to military invasions and all the Gestapo-like goon squads who
abused power and terrorized people. But it meant more than that to African
Americans. It was not the Nazis that terrorized them day after day. It was the
Ku Klux Klan, it was the police and sheriff’s departments, it was the lynch
mob, it was racial oppression in the United States. Indeed, African Americans
looked at Nazi Germany and saw an evil that was distinctly, painfully familiar.
In 1941, after reviewing a series of Nazi edicts such as the sterilization of the
mulatto “Rhineland bastards” and the application of the Nuremberg Laws to
Germany’s black population, Pittsbu1lJh Courier journalist George Schuyler
remarked that “what struck me . .. was that the Nazi plan for Negroes ap­
proximates so closely what seems to be the American plan for Negroes. ” 32
Walter White and NAACP board member Earl Dickerson echoed that senti­
ment by continuously pointing to the similarities between white supremacy
in the United States and Aryan supremacy in Nazi Germany and the inevita­
ble destruction that rained down on so-called marginal populations whenever
either of those supremacist doctrines came into play.33 Had this picture of
racial oppression been frightening enough, like the portrait of Dorian Gray,
to compel the American government to reclaim its soul and honor its oft­
spoke commitment to equality and democracy?
The black leadership, of course, had no illusions that this reclamation
project would or could happen overnight. The sobering and unforgettable
false promises of World War I still resonated like a bitter refrain. African
Americans’ unrequited faith in democracy and misguided “patriotic” silencing of
agitation for equality, had not helped make the world, or the United States for
that matter, “safe for democracy.” Instead, after World War I, African Americans
82
A HISTORY OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE UNITED STATES
felt the cold, malevolent embrace of a nation that had reified white suprem­
acy, welcomed the resurgence of the Klan, and drowned America in the black
blood of Red Summer. Hardened by that unflinching betrayal, African Amer­
icans learned an invaluable lesson. White House aide Philleo Nash immedi­
ately noticed the difference. The tenor and tone of the black community
during World War II was like nothing he had ever seen before. “Negroes,” he
warned the Roosevelt administration, were not the Negroes of World War I.
This time, he noted with alarm, they are “in a militant and demanding
mood.”34 Indeed, one black soldier encapsulated that militancy best when he
declared, “I’m hanged if I’m going to let the Alabama version of the Ger­
mans kick me around when I get home. . . . I went into the Army a nigger;
I’m coming out a man.”35
This was a new day. African Americans were demanding “freedom [and]
rejecting [the] idea of racial inferiority.” The language of the Atlantic Char­
ter’s Four Freedoms, particularly freedom from fear and freedom from want,
meant that the “[ c]ontinued humiliation to Negroes who are segregated in
the armed forces,” the perpetuation of persistently “[b]ad and inadequate
housing,” and rampant “[u]nemployment even where man-power shortages
are present,” were not going to be tolerated. Not this time. 36 A “war for the
Four Freedoms,” the NAACP declared, had erupted in black America.37
Therefore, when Churchill insisted that the Atlantic Charter was, for all
intents and purposes, a “whites only” affair, Walter White and other members
of the black leadership repudiated the prime minister and called on President
Roosevelt to issue a Pacific Charter “so that dark-skinned and colonial peo­
ples may be given greater hope of real political democracy and freedom from
economic exploitation.” White then challenged Roosevelt to “prove to the
colored peoples .. . that you are not hypocrites when you say this is a war
for freedom. Prove it to us and we will show you that we can and will fight
like fury for that freedom. But,” White added, “we want-and we intend to
have-our share of that freedom. “38
The “moral cross roads of the war has been reached. ” 39 The communist­
dominated National Negro Congress (NNC) saw it, as well. There “is no
middle road today,” the leadership asserted, “there are only two paths before
us.” One “strives to secure for mankind the four freedoms that characterize a
democratic government-freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom
from want, freedom from fear.” For “15,000,000 American Negroes,” the
NNC insisted, “this spells freedom from oppression.” The other pathway, as
the Axis powers, as well as the lynchers in Sikeston, Missouri, had made abun­
dantly clear, “drowns in bloodshed the lives, dignity and culture of minority
peoples.”40 The African American leadership had seized upon the reality that
the needs in black America had converged with the wartime language of
human rights to provide the road map for freedom.
NAACP board member William Hastie, former dean of Howard Univer­
sity’s law school, carefully and meticulously articulated this human rights vi­
sion. He declared that “When we as victors lay down our arms in this struggle
against . .. enslavement” by the Nazis and other Axis powers, “we take up
arms immediately in the great war against starvation, unemployment, and the
rigging of the markets of the world.” “Starvation,” he observed, “has no Bill
A “HOLLOW MOCKERY”
83
of Rights nor slavery a Magna Carta.” For this powerful member of the
NMCP’s board of directors and future federal judge, housing, education,
and health care were now the newly enshrined rights. “We cannot, ” he in­
toned, “offer the blueprints and the skills to rebuild the bombed-out cities of
other lands and stymie the rebuilding of our own cities. Slums have no place
in America. We cannot assist in binding the wound of a war-stricken world
and fail to safeguard the health of our own people.We cannot hope to raise
the literacy of other nations and fail to roll back the ignorance that clouds
many communities in many sectors of our own nation . .. all people [must]
have the opportunity for the fullest education.” Hastie then laid out that
“Our choice is between democracy for everybody or for the few-between
the spreading of social safeguards and economic opportunity to all the peo­
ple ” as outlined in the Atlantic Charter or, in sliding down into the hole of
the “good old days of Americanism, ” which meant “the concentration of our
abundant resources in the hands of … a few ” who epitomized “selfishness
and greed.”4 1
It is within this framework of the Four Freedoms and human rights that
the African American leadership soon began “formulating a program of post
war needs for the American Negro.” At the top of that list was “first-class
citizenship ” as defined by “basic civil rights ” such as “the right to vote in all
parts of the country.” There was also a recurring emphasis on “essential eco­
nomic rights ” such as the “right to compete in fields of employment on equal
levels, ” “the right to work, ” “the right to remuneration for work on the basis
of merit and performance, ” and “the right to advance in rank and salary in
terms of ability and productive contribution.” In addition, African Americans
sought the right to “unsegregated and unrestricted housing ” and the “right
to live without the burdens and embarrassments that are provoked by the
unwarranted segregation ” in education, health care, and in public accom­
modations.4 2 Yet, as the Association leadership and its allies in the African
American community continued to thrash out what a definitive platform for
equality looked like, it soon became obvious that all the discussions, all the
debates, all the meetings, and all the conferences would have little or no impact
unless African Americans were at the peace table. Black people had to have a
meaningful role in shaping this new world order. It was simply too important
to leave to the British, the Soviets, and, yes, even the Americans.43
This point was made abundantly clear at Dumbarton Oaks, which was the
British, American, and Soviet conference to determine the shape, power, and
form of the new international organization, the United Nations. The short­
comings of the 1944 Dumbarton Oaks agreement sent a warning shot across
the bow to the black leadership about the ways in which the supposed new
world order was, if the Allies had their way, going to look painfully like the
old world order. One of the most striking and glaring deficiencies was that
despite the Atlantic Charter, despite Nazi atrocities, and despite Japanese
brutality, human rights had barely-and just barely- made a cameo appear­
ance in the draft plan for the United Nations.
Venerable scholar and NMCP co-founder, W.E.B. Du Bois, who had re­
joined the Association specifically to address the human rights and colonial­
ism issues that World War II had so rawly exposed, leveled a searing critique
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A HISTORY OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE UNITED STATES
at the Dumbarton Oaks plans for the United Nations. The weaknesses, he
warned, were predicated on the continuation of white supremacy and if al­
lowed to become embedded in the operating code of the proposed United
Nations, would prove fatal not only to the organization but to the hundreds
of millions of people of color throughout the globe.44 Du Bois, therefore,
began to lobby the State Department to have the NAACP attached as an of­
ficial consultant to the U.S. delegation at the founding conference of the
United Nations in San Francisco. Officially known as the United Nations
Conference on International Organization (UNCIO), it was here where the
organization’s structure and powers would be finalized.
As incredibly unrealistic as Du Bois’s demand may have seemed, the State
Department had learned one key lesson from the debacle following World
War I : Without popular support, no peace treaty could ever get through the
Senate. Hence, the invitation to the NAACP and more than forty other major
organizations to join the U.S. delegation in San Francisco. Hence, as well,
the dilemma. For the United States the crafting of a new world order that
denounced Aryan supremacy and all of its vestiges as abhorrent and unac­
ceptable to civilized society while at the same time shielding, protecting, and
privileging white supremacy in the United States was going to be a difficult
feat. As one journalist noted, “It is easy to talk about freedom for all; but it
isn’t easy to mean it. All is a [mighty] big word.” 45 And the United States
government knew it.Caught between the bitter harvest of the Holocaust and
the “Strange Fruit” of lynching, the United States searched desperately to
find some way to “assert . . . [America’s] moral leadership in [the] field ” of
human rights while still maintaining the status quo of Jim Crow and racial
inequality.46 That was the dilemma that the powerful Southern Democrats
had no intention of solving for the United States. As far as the Southern
Democrats were concerned World War II had not changed a thing; there was
no “American Dilemma, ” no new world order, and no emerging human
rights regime. There was only the sacred old order that white supremacy
had established. Mississippi Senator James 0. Eastland, in his own patriotic,
Capra-esque moment, “explained that white southerners were fighting [in
World War I I ] … ‘to maintain white supremacy and control of our election
machinery.’ “47 The Southern Democrats had, therefore, fought every piece
of civil rights legislation that dared to come near Capitol Hill. They consis­
tently blasted the NAACP as the “nigger advancement society, ” defended
“lynching as necessary ‘to protect the fair womanhood of the South from
beasts,’ ” and foamed at the thought of “burr headed niggers ” having equal
opportunity in employment, education, or health care. This was no mere rant­
ing from the ideological fringe.The Southern Democrats “dominate[ d] more
than sixty percent of the Senate and House Committees which determine[d]
not only domestic legislation but foreign affairs and the shape of the post war
world.”48
Early on they flexed their political muscle in determining the U.S. response
to the founding of the United Nations and the UN’s human rights initiatives.
The hostility to a strong UN Charter, with explicit guarantees of rights, ema­
nated from the same supremacist swamp that drowned federal anti-lynching
bills, anti-poll tax measures, Fair Employment Practices Committees, and
A “HOLLOW MOCKERY”
85
other civil rights legislation.A major part of the clout they were able to exert
came from Texas Senator Tom Connally, who chaired the Senate Foreign
Relations Committee, and who had also been instrumental in scuttling three
anti-lynching bills in Congress. Connally was now a key member of the U.S.
delegation at the founding conference for the United Nations. State Depart­
ment officials were well aware of this and even admitted that “when you had
men like . . . Connally [on the U.S.delegation to the UN] . . .you didn’t go
sailing off into the blue.You had to keep your eye all the time on not putting
too much limitation on American sovereignty.”49 For Connally, that trans­
lated into ensuring that states’ rights would never be challenged or curtailed
by any international treaty. States’ rights was the sine qua non of the South’s
power. The region had effectively used the doctrine to enshrine white su­
premacy, bar African Americans from enjoying their rights as U.S. citizens,
and ensure that, like Dred Scott, blacks “had no rights which the white man
was bound to respect.” 50
At the UNCIO Connally immediately wielded his power in the cause of
white supremacy. The senator, despite numerous pleas from other delega­
tions and the consultants, refused to even entertain the notion that all people,
regardless of race, had the right to education. If the cacophony continued
and the United States gave in, he warned, any UN Charter with the right to
education embedded in it would never pass through his committee. Con­
nally, in short, was willing to scuttle the entire treaty in order to maintain the
Jim Crow education that was essential to black political and economic disen­
franchisement. This was a high-stakes, political game of chicken that the
American delegates were not prepared to play. While Connally stood firm,
they blinked.The Americans, therefore, worked overtime to quell the clamor
at the UNCIO by presenting Connally’s indefensible position as viable, logi­
cal, and politically teasible.5 1 That scramble to shroud in reasonableness the
totally unreasonable would repeat itself over and over again as the United
States, with one eye always on the Southern Democrats, tried to craft human
rights language that would leave white supremacy untouched.
This would not go unchallenged.With forty-seven other nations and a con­
tingent of headstrong consultants, the United States could not keep human
rights the nice symbolic, meaningless gesture that the State Department in­
tended. The consultants, led by the NAACP and the American Jewish Con­
gress, exposed this problem when they demanded, of all things, establishment
of a human rights commission. The American delegation may have been ap­
palled at the suggestion, but the horrors of the Holocaust and, frankly, the
horrors of America compelled the Jewish and African American consultants
to view an international commission as absolutely essential.52
Understanding the problem, the revulsion at Nazi atrocities on one hand
and the need to maintain Jim Crow on the other, foreign policy guru John
Foster Dulles was confident that he could devise a human rights plan that
would pacify the consultants and satisfy the Southern Democrats. His solu­
tion was simple. Amid an unequivocal statement “guaranteeing freedom from
discrimination on account of race, language, religion, or sex, ” Dulles inserted
an amendment that “nothing in the Charter shall authorize . ..intervention
in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of the State
86
A HISTORY OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE UNITED STATES
concerned. ” This “domestic jurisdiction ” clause meant that the United States
could continue to use the rhetoric of “freedom ” but would not “be put in a
position of having matters of domestic concern interfered with by the Secu­
rity Council. ” More specifically the clause would ensure that the UN could
not “requir[ e] ” a state to “change [its] . . . immigration policy or [Jim Crow]
legislation. ” 53 While the American and Soviet delegations immediately em­
braced Dulles’s stroke of genius, the other nations and the consultants sent
up a wail of protest. 54
Dulles did not care. 55 He insisted that the United States had to protect
itself. The future secretary of state then made it abundantly clear that the
domestic jurisdiction clause was America’s price for allowing human rights to
seep into the UN Charter. This “is as far as we can go, ” he said. “If [ the do­
mestic jurisdiction clause] is rejected, ” Dulles warned, “we shall be forced to
reexamine our attitude toward increases in the economic and social activities
of this Organization. ” After Dulles clarified the American position, the de­
bate stopped and the other nations agreed to accept the domestic jurisdiction
clause.The United States had just won an important battle in keeping human
rights from darkening America’s doorstep. 56
This battle, however, was far from over.The State Department, given the
emerging Cold War and the depth of atrocities in the Soviet Union, was con­
vinced that a key strategy in highlighting the moral bankruptcy of Marxism
was to position America as “the tower of strength and the innovator and the
pioneer in the field of human rights. ” Yet, no matter how hard the depart­
ment tried, it simply could not do it. 5 7 The truth of the matter, one depart­
ment oflicial admitted, was that no nation had an exemplary human rights
record-not even the United States. “[T]he United States with all its power, ”
he explained to his supervisors, “has not yet been able even to get up on the
first rung of the ladder, namely elections which are free enough to provide
the prerequisite basis for the honoring of even the most tangible of human
rights, which are the legal ones.” 58
Human rights, however, was too important a Cold War arena in which to
concede defeat, especially to the Soviets.The goal, as novelist Ralph Ellison
so eloquently stated, was to find a way to “reconcile democratic ideas with
an anti-democratic reality. ” 59 That is, the United States had to find a way to
fight for human rights to expose the sham of the Soviets’ people’s democracy,
while doing so in a manner that left intact the racial inequality that kept
the Southern Democrats firmly ensconced in the Senate and House of Rep­
resentatives and blocked Jim Crow and all its progeny from international
scrutiny.
This was going to be tricky.While, to be sure, the Soviet Union ruthlessly
quashed civil liberties, constructed a lethal gulag system, and saw to the
destruction of millions of “political opponents ” through forced starvation,
mock trials, and real executions, the United States had a thriving and harsh
convict lease-labor system, rampant debt slavery, widespread political and
economic disenfranchisement, and extensive legal and extra-legal violence
aimed at millions of minority citizens.Nonetheless, despite their track records,
these flawed superpowers began playing their disingenuous human rights
game.
A “HOLLOW MOCKERY”
87
The Americans made the first move; on their terms; on their turf-the First
Amendment. Knowing that it would be beyond impossible for the Soviet­
controlled organs Izvestia and Pravda to compare favorably to the New York
Times, Le Monde, the London Times, and thousands of other independently
owned newspapers throughout the West, the United States quickly arranged
to have the UN investigate the status of freedom of the press throughout the
globe. For the Kremlin, this looming international exposure could prove
highly embarrassing.
The Soviets, therefore, quickly counterattacked at America’s weakest point­
Jim Crow. The USSR successfully urged the United Nations to form a Sub­
commission on the Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minori­
ties (MINDIS). With the Nuremberg Trials fully underway, the United States
had no choice but to assent to the sub-commission’s creation. That grudging
assent, however, was about as far as the United States was willing to go. In
addition to trying to sabotage MINDIS outright by changing its member­
ship and scuttling its meeting schedule, the State Department also filleted
the definition of “minority” so finely that it automatically excluded African
Americans from the sub-commission’s purview. Although MINDIS was cre­
ated to address the plight of minorities, the State Department argued that, in
actuality, “national minorities” were the targeted group. For the State De­
partment, “national minorities” had a separate language, a separate culture,
and separatist political aims. African Americans, the department reasoned,
therefore, were not a “national minority. ” Nor did it appear were Mexican
Americans, Asian Americans, and even Native Americans. In fact, the State
Department concluded that, “there probably are no national minorities in
the United States. “60 In other words, national minorities-Kurds, Armenians,
and Basques-were a European problem, not an American one.
The State Department also decided, as a self-protective measure, to take
the lead on the drafting of the Covenant on Human Rights, which, unlike the
Declaration, was a treaty. The U.S. delegation worked hard to navigate
around the “obstacles to the United States support for a Covenant,” which
were the “non-discrimination article” and “[i]ts import for other articles of
substance” such as provisions dealing with the right to education, health
care, housing, voting, and employment. Equally important was the fact that
“we don’t want others meddling in our affairs. ” 61 Thus, in order to get this
treaty through the Southern-dominated Senate, the Truman administration
broke the Covenant in two, separated civil and political rights from economic
and social rights (which were seen as communistic), proposed removing the
most “offensive” rights, like voting, from the Covenant because it violated
Southern electoral policies, and inserted a federal-state clause that meant that
even though the federal government may sign and ratify the treaty, no state
in the system would be bound by its tenets. In championing the federal-state
clause, Eleanor Roosevelt, chair of the Commission on Human Rights
(CHR), emphasized three key, important areas in which the current balance
of federal-state power would be sacredly preserved. The federal government,
she promised the South, would never interfere in “murder cases,” investigate
concerns over “fair trials,” or insist on “the right to education. ” In essence,
Eleanor Roosevelt had just assured the Dixiecrats that the sacred troika of
88
A HISTORY 01′ HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE UNITED STATES
lynching, Southern justice, and Jim Crow schools would remain untouched
even with a Covenant on Human Rights.6 2
The State Department also decided to use the unimpeachable cachet of
Eleanor Roosevelt as chair of the Commission on Human Rights to ensure
that the CHR would not have the authority to do anything with the thou­
sands of petitions the UN received.The last thing the United States wanted
was a Commission on Human Rights with power. If the United States
had its way, a key State Department otlicial Durward Sandifer admitted, the
Commission would be “of little use ” regardless of the extent of the human
rights violation. Sandifer remarked that in his estimation even the “ghastly ”
treatment of the “natives of the Belgian Congo or the persecution of the
Christian Armenians by the Turkish Empire,” would not have been enough
to warrant international intervention. Given that nearly 90 percent of the
Armenians in Turkey and 1 0 million Africans had been killed, Sandifer had
set the bar for UN intervention at an extremely high and dangerously lethal
level.63
All of this maneuvering to turn the CHR into “the most elaborate waste­
paper basket ever invented ” was driven by the State Department’s concern
that those who lived below the Mason-Dixon line would try to find redress
for their “domestic maladjustments ” at the UN. The State Department knew
how unresponsive the American political arena was to black demands for
equality.The “trinity of constitutional guarantees, judicial decisions and ad­
ministrative support, ” the State Department admitted, had certainly proven
impotent in breaking the shackles of African Americans’ second-class citizen­
ship.64 “No other American group is so definitely subordinate in status or
so frequently the victim of discriminatory practices ” as the Negro, one State
Department analysis averred. The report then detailed what those discrimi­
natory practices were.
Among the more important of these practices are: segregation legislation
in Southern and border states; restrictive covenants which limit the residen­
tial mobility of Negroes in many of the municipalities of the United States;
economic restrictions and vocational discrimination-about 80 percent of
the complaints before the Fair Employment Practice Committee from July
1 943 to December 1 944 were from Negroes; lynching; restriction of the
Negro’s access to the courts and various limitations on his participation in
political activities, particularly in reference to the use of the franchise and
otlice-holding; unequal access to schools, public facilities, and social services
generally; and the social restrictions placed on the Negro by custom and
convention. These practices, many of which are nationwide, are obviously in
conflict with the American creed of democracy and equality of opportunity
for all.65
These conditions, the State Department understood, made the United
States a prime candidate for a UN hearing. “There is an alert and intelligent
public, composed of Negroes and whites, keenly aware of the disabilities suf­
fered by the Negro. Elements within this public,” the report warned, “may
be inclined to press for consideration of the Negro’s case before the Human
Rights Commission.” The State Department further realized that the good­
will intentions of American democracy were simply not enough to forestall a
A “Hou,0w MocKERY”
89
determined international inquest. Although in “theory discrimination is not
allowable under the American constitution and law” and
segregationists legislation of southern and border states has been interpreted in
the courts as not discriminatory, on the assumption that the facilities and ser­
vices provided Negroes . . . are not of necessity unequal. In fact, however, fa­
cilities are on an unequal basis; and this and other discriminatory practices may
give us some trouble before an international body concerned with preventing
discrimination. 66
This was not a trivial matter because the Cold War had intensified America’s
“mocking paradoxes” and made the cost of exposure almost too much to
bear.67 “The peculiar disadvantage of the United States,” one official wrote
to the assistant secretary of state, “would be that with the seat of the United
Nations in this country and with a freer flow of information here than else­
where the United Nations could be flooded with petitions relating to United
States abuses .. . thus giving the impression that the United States was the
chief offender against rather than defender of civil liberties.”68
In 1947, the State Department’s worst nightmare came true. Following
the example of the National Negro Congress, the NAACP decided to chal­
lenge the domestic jurisdiction clause. The Association petitioned the UN
Commission on Human Rights to investigate the conditions under which
African Americans lived and died in the United States.In doing so the NAACP
made the disastrous error of overestimating its allies and underestimating its
opposition. The petition, however, was first-rate. An Appeal to the World!,
written under Du Bois’s leadership, stated that although “there is general
agreement that the ‘fundamental human rights’ which” members of the
“United Nations are pledged to promote .. . ‘without distinction as to race,’
include Education, Employment, Housing and Health” it is clear that “the
Negro in the United States is the victim of wide deprivation of each of these
rights.” In his chapter of the petition, Washington Bureau chief and trained
sociologist, Leslie S. Perry, began first and foremost with the right to educa­
tion because, he noted, “those who would continue to exploit the Negro,
politically and economically have first tried to keep his mind in shackles.”69
The petition had, therefore, carefully documented the gross disparities in
educational attainment, opportunity, quality, and funding. It had noted that
in school districts where African Americans comprised over 75 percent of the
school-age population, only $2.12 per capita was spent on them as opposed
to $28.50 per white student. The Association had further documented that
in 1943-1944, while the United States was at war with the Nazis, Southern
states spent 111 percent more on white students than black. Mississippi led
the way, of course, with a staggering 499 percent difference between its fund­
ing of black and white schools.70 Moreover, because of the South’s insistence
on paying black teachers significantly less than white ones, African Americans
lost $25 million per year in wages, which in 2005, would equal nearly $1.6
billion annually.71 As statistic after statistic rolled through the pages of
the NAACP’s petition to the United Nations about state-sponsored racial
inequality-in education, in employment, in housing, in health care-one
U.S.diplomat at the United Nations insisted that theJim Crow Leader of the
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A HISTORY Or HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE UNITED STATES
Free World could not afford to be exposed as a “nation of hypocrites ” and he
used his influence to bury the petition deep within the UN bureaucracy.7 2
Additional opposition came from “friend of the Negro, ” NAACP board
member, and chair of the UN Commission on Human Rights Eleanor
Roosevelt. In an article and a series of letters that read like “The Education
of Walter White ” she emphasized that the NAACP had made a big mistake in
going to the UN to air African Americans’ grievances because the petition
played into the Soviets’ hands, and, she intimated, the only petitions the
USSR ever supported were those authored by known communist-dominated
groups. White also needed to understand, she continued quite sternly, that
the U.S. delegation “could not let the Soviet (sic) get away with attacking the
United States ” and dodge having their own shortcomings exposed.7 3 Roosevelt
also warned Du Bois that the NAACP did not ever want to run the risk again
of “exposing the United States to distorted accusations by other countries. ”
She firmly believed that the “colored people in the United States .. . would
be better served in the long run if the NAACP Appeal were not placed on the
Agenda.” Then, in the ultimate lesson, Roosevelt submitted her resignation
from the NAACP board of directors.Although she did not mention the peti­
tion that she had helped squash, the timing of her resignation seemed to
carry with it a very distinct, ominous message.White, of course, pleaded with
her to reconsider. The Association “would suffer irreparable loss if you were
to resign.” She held firm. He begged her again. “[U]nder no circumstances
would we want you to resign from the Board.Your name means a great deal
to us.” His pleas, astutely, never mentioned the UN but only how much
needed to be done domestically and how only she had the clout to make that
happen. Roosevelt eventually agreed to stay. And White began to seriously
rethink the NAACP’s investment in the struggle for human rights. 74 Indeed,
the following year, as part of the growing fissure between Du Bois and him,
which was then buttressed by the hard, cold reality of Roosevelt’s displeasure
with An Appeal to the World!, White announced to a State Department offi­
cial that the NAACP “had no intention ” of pressing its case ever again before
the United Nations.75
Even with all of that, by the time Dwight D. Eisenhower came to power
in the early 1950s, a group of Republicans joined with the Southern Demo­
crats and decided that the Truman administration had not done enough to
protect the United States from the UN and human rights. That “evil combi­
nation ” of the GOP and Dixiecrats, as the NAACP called it, charged that the
U.S. Constitution and America were under attack by human rights, human
rights proponents, and the United Nations, as that foreigner-dominated or­
ganization set out to subvert American values with socialistic, even commu­
nistic, ideas about freedom and democracy.
To rescue America and its children from the UN, Republican Senator John
W. Bricker of Ohio proposed the ultimate weapon-a constitutional amend­
ment to alter the treaty approval process. This was an incredibly radical move
for such an arch-conservative because it attacked the very foundational Amer­
ican heritage that he claimed he was fighting to preserve. From the days of
the Founding Fathers, treaties had to be ratified by two-thirds of the U.S.
Senate to become the “law of the land.” But now, for the senator and his
A “HOLLOW MOCKERY”
91
allies, that was no longer enough. With the UN and human rights stalking
America’s shores, threatening to breach the bridgehead of American sover­
eignty and states’ rights, a mere two-thirds of the Senate seemed like an in­
credibly weak and permeable line of defense. The Bricker amendment was,
therefore, designed to reinforce significantly America’s battlements against
the foreign invasion of human rights law. Although the amendment would
maintain the requirement that all treaties had to be ratified by two-thirds of
the Senate, Bricker then added executive agreements as part of the package.
The point of including these instruments of diplomacy was to keep the pres­
ident from using them to bypass the legislative branch and congressional
oversight. Yet, that was only the beginning. After ratification by two-thirds
of the Senate, the executive agreement or treaty would then need to pass
both houses of Congress with enabling legislation. Despite the enormous
difficulties of transforming a bill into a law, as the stillborn anti-lynching, poll
tax, and fair employment bills demonstrated, America’s rampart, in Bricker’s
opinion, was still not high enough. The isolationist wing of the GOP and
Southern Democrats, therefore, determined that state legislatures would be
the final, impenetrable brick in the wall that could stop these human rights
initiatives, especially the much-dreaded Genocide Convention, dead in their
tracks. The reliance upon the recalcitrance of state governments was not sur­
prising. The Southern Democrats had repeatedly voiced their fears that the
Genocide Convention, if ratified, could trump states’ rights, transform lynch­
ing into an international crime, and obligate the federal government to pros­
ecute those who had, heretofore, killed black Americans with impunity.76
The Bricker Amendment, as a result, included the provision that all forty­
eight state legislatures had to ratify treaties and executive agreements. The
Ohio senator crowed that this amendment, with its multiple lines of defense­
two-thirds of the Senate; majority votes in both Houses of Congress; and
approval by all forty-eight state legislatures-would rein in the “eager beavers
in the UN ” and prevent “some Americans ” from using UN treaties “as a
substitute for national legislation on purely domestic matters.” 77
The much-heralded Bricker Amendment enjoyed the support of a number
of conservative, “patriotic ” organizations and, even more important, enough
senators from both parties to ensure its ratification. With over sixty senators
sponsoring the amendment and the Republican Party firmly behind Bricker,
President Eisenhower realized that he had a fight on his hands because
although the target was clearly the UN’s human rights treaties, the Bricker
Amendment’s language was broad enough to strip the executive branch of
any real authority whatsoever in foreign policy. In order to preserve his pres­
idential role in foreign relations, Eisenhower now desperately searched for
some sort of compromise.78
The solution that Dulles and the president seized upon was the complete
abandonment of both the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, even though
it was designed to mimic the U.S. Bill of Rights, and the Covenant on Eco­
nomic, Social, and Cultural Rights, which in the State Department’s estima­
tion was no more than a Pandora’s box filled with the “inarticulate Slavic
desire for the economic well-being of the masses. ” 79 For good measure Sec­
retary of State Dulles added the Convention on the Political Rights of Women
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A HISTORY OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE UNITED STATES
and the Convention on the Abolition of Slavery.80 In the process, Eisenhower
particularly withdrew support for the Genocide Convention because, as Vice
President Richard Nixon noted, that treaty was the primary catalyst for the
Bricker Amendment. The Southern Democrats, everyone recognized, were
afraid that the human rights treaties, in general, just “might affect the Col­
ored question ” and that the Genocide Convention, in particular, could be­
come, in the hands of the NAACP’s attorneys, “a backdoor method to a
federal anti-lynching bill.” 8 1 These were the burnt offerings that Eisenhower
presented to the senate in exchange for saving presidential power.
Walter White, who had been relatively quiet on the human rights front
since Eleanor Roosevelt had taken him and the NAACP to the woodshed,
was outraged.He asserted that the Bricker Amendment, with its proviso that
all forty-eight state legislatures had to approve any treaty, would drag the
United States down to the “moral and intellectual level of the most backward
state of the nation.” That frightening scenario, he exclaimed, meant “that as
a nation we could take no higher moral ground than that permitted by states
like Mississippi or South Carolina.” But, of course, he added, that was the
whole point. The NAACP chieftain stated that it was no accident that Sena­
tor Bricker’s crusade gained momentum only after a California court ruled
that a racially discriminatory law violated the Declaration of Human Rights.
That ruling, White explained, caused “consternation in conservative circles
lest our international moral commitments require us to live up to those com­
mitments here at home. ” 8 2 The “more we study this amendment, ” he noted
in an address to congressional leaders, “the more dangerous we believe it to
be.” 83 The Senate, however, would not budge.
Only an idolized World War II hero like Eisenhower could stop the Bricker
juggernaut and it took him nearly a year to muster the will to do so. When
the president finally came out openly against the Bricker Amendment, the
battle in the Senate began in earnest.84 The old general knew that this was a
campaign he. could not afford to lose and his considerable influence pulled
several Republican supporters away from the senator. This loss of key votes
led one version of the amendment after another to fail. But just when it
looked like victory was imminent, into the breach stepped Senator Walter
George (D-GA), who, as everyone knew, “commanded attention and got
respect from members of the Senate.” 85 That influence combined with his
Southern Democrat values portended disaster. George, an ardent states’ rights
champion, made no secret of the fact that he was particularly concerned that
the Genocide Convention “would bring within the area of Congressional
power anti-lynching legislation.” As a result, George wanted the Bricker
Amendment to succeed at all costs. He introduced his own substitute pro­
posal and, with his cachet and clout, immediately breathed new life into the
amendment’s sagging chances.86
As historian Duane Tananbaum noted, this was the “showdown . ” After
intense debates, the voting began. “As the clerk began calling the roll that
evening for the final vote …, the outcome remained uncertain.” At one point,
it “looked bleak ” especially after several Eisenhower Republicans jumped
ship and “voted with Bricker and George.” But then, several Democrats, who
had previously supported the amendment, swung to the other side. Back and
A “HOLLOW MocKF,RY”
93
forth it went until “as the vote was ending, 60 senators had voted for the
amendment and only 30 had voted against it, ” Bricker had his two-thirds!
But then out of the blue, or more accurately, out of the tavern, “staggered
into the Senate chamber ” Harley Kilgore, “a liberal Democrat from West
Virginia. ” The drunken lawmaker was “propped up by various aides and col­
leagues ” and when the clerk “asked for the senator’s vote … a ‘nay’ was
heard-whether from Kilgore or one of the others is uncertain.” What was
certain, however, was that the George resolution had just gone down to
defeat- by one drunken vote.87
Although Eisenhower clearly felt vindicated, it was a pyrrhic victory for
African Americans. The fact that the president chose to confront the Bricker
forces only at the very last minute and instead attempted, at least initially, to
appease the right wing by auctioning off the human rights treaties, cost Afri­
can Americans dearly. The administration’s sacrifice of the Covenants and
Genocide Convention, the loss of real American involvement in the develop­
ment of international human rights protocols, and, most important, the per­
vasive notion that there was something un-American and foreign, if not to­
tally communistic and dangerous, about human rights converged to severely
constrict the agenda for real black equality, particularly as its advocates got
destroyed by the McCarthy witch hunts.88
In many ways, that retreat from human rights, particularly as the civil
rights movement erupted in Alabama the next year in 1955, bequeathed an
agenda for equality that was too restricted to even ask the right question,
much less provide the answer, about the root cause of systemic and perpetual
inequality.89 Over the next decade, as one civil rights triumph after the next
left virtually untouched the human rights catastrophe brewing in the black
communities, the limits of the movement became painfully apparent.90 In
1985, Bayard Rustin, the logistics genius behind the 1963 March on Wash­
ington told a college audience that two decades after the apogee of the civil
rights movement, all still was not well.The “problems of the early sixties …
were more easily solved than our current dilemma, ” Rustin observed. “First
of all, it did not cost the government billions of dollars to do away with seg­
regation in public accommodations, to give us the right to vote, to integrate
the schools.” These gains, Rustin made clear, were not without costs.It “took
the bombing of churches and the murder of innocents ” but “it was fairly easy
to get most Americans to understand that it was un-American to continue
segregation.” Rustin warned, however, that the next phase of the struggle
would be even more trying because “We are now asking for education, med­
ical care, jobs and housing.” 9 1
In many horrific ways, nearly a generation later, the 2005 disaster in New
Orleans exposed how black Americans were still in search of those basic
human rights. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) summarized it best when he
intoned, “I hope we realize that the people of New Orleans weren’t just
abandoned during the hurricane.” “They were abandoned long ago- . ..to
substandard schools, to dilapidated housing, to inadequate health care, to a
pervasive sense of hopelessness. ” 92 Oddly enough, in 1952, U.S. Ambassa­
dor to the UN, Warren Austin had told the NAACP that if the United States
did not deal with human rights “at home, …all our Declarations on Human
94
A HISTORY OF HUMAN R.rGHTS IN THE UNITED STATES
Rights would be a hollow mockery.” This Cassandra-like prediction came
true as Hurricane Katrina “exposed some shocking truths about ” the United
States: “the bitterness of its sharp racial divide, the abandonment of the dis­
possessed, the weakness of critical infrastructure. But the most astonishing
and most shaming revelations has been of its government’s failure to bring
succour to its people at their time of greatest need.”93 Or, as Walter White
said more than fifty years earlier, “Democracy doesn’t mean much to a man
with an empty belly.”94
NOTES
Parts of this chapter first appeared in Carol Anderson’s Eyes Offthe Prize: The United
Nations and the African American Struggle for Human Rights, 1 944-1955 ( Cam­
bridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003). Excerpts from Eyes Offthe Prize, © 2003
by Carol Anderson. Reprinted with permission of Cambridge University Press.
1 . Walter White to Herbert Lehman, Dennis Chavez, and Leverett Saltonstall,
telegram, July 1 1 , 1950, Box A61 7, File “State Department: Point IV Program,
1949-54,” Papers ofthe National Association for the Advancement of Cnlnred People,
Series II, General Office File, 1 940-1955, Library of Congress, Washington, DC
(hereafter Papers of the NAACP) .
2. Manfred Berg, «The Ticket to Freedom )): The NAA CP and the Struggle for Black
Political Integration ( Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 2005 ) .
3 . Berg, Ticket to Freedom, p. 1 0 5 .
4 . For the rationale behind the NAACP’s initial rejection o f economic issues dur­
ing the organization’s founding in 1 909 see, Berg, Ticket to Freedom, pp. 1 4-1 5 .
5 . David M. Kennedy, Freedom from Fear: The American People i n Depression and
War, 1 929-1945 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1 999), pp. 87, 1 64, 186, 193;
Robert S. McElvaine, The Great Depression: America, 1 929-1941, 2nd ed. (New York:
Times Books, 1993), pp. 1 87-195; Patricia Sullivan, Days of Hope: Race and Democ­
racy in the New Deal Era ( Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1 996 ) .
6. Roi Ottley, New World A-Coming ( 1943; New York: Arno Press, 1968), p. 290.
7. Paul Gordon Lauren, The Evolution of International Human Rights: Visions
Seen, 2nd ed. ( Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2003), p. 1 5 0 .
8 . Philleo Nash to Jonathan Daniels, memo, August 1 5 , 1944, Box 2 9 , File “OWi­
Files Alphabetical-Race Tension-Jonathan Daniels File-News Analysis,” Philleo Nash
Papers, Harry S. Truman Presidential Library, Independence, MO.
9 . Gary R. Kremer and Antonio F. Holland, Missouri’s Black Heritage, rev. ed.
( Columbia, University of Missouri Press, 1993), p. 1 6 1 ; Dominic J. Capeci Jr., The
Lynching of Cleo Wright ( Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 1998 ), pp. 5-6.
1 0 . U.S. Bureau of the Census, Historical Statistics of the United States, Colonial
Times to 1970, Bicentennial Edition, Part 1 (Washington, DC: GPO, 1975 ), p. 422.
From 1 940-1955, African Americans accounted for 234 out of263 of those executed
for rape.
1 1. “An Informal Report on Attitudes in Southeast Missouri Relative to the
Lynching of Cleo Wright, Negro, January 2 5 , 1 942, for the NAACP by Mr. and Mrs.
L. Benoist Tompkins, Saint Louis, Mo.,” Box 42, File “Internal Secnrity File: Trea­
sury File-NAACP Misc ( folder 2 of 2), Stephen ]. Spingarn Papers, Harry S. Truman
Presidential Library, Independence, MO (hereafter Spingarn Papers); Capeci, Lynch­
ing, pp. 1 3-37.
1 2 . Capeci, Lynching, p. 2 3 .
1 3 . An informal Report, Spingarn Papers.
A “HOLLOW MOCKERY”
95
14. Kremer and Holland, Missouri’s Black Heritage, pp. 1 58-159.
15. Kremer and Holland, Missouri’s Black Heritage, p. 1 59 .
16. An Informal Report, Spingarn Papers.
17. See, for example, Philip Dray, At the Hands ofPersons Unknown: The Lynching
ofBlack America (New York: Random House, 2002); Grace Elizabeth Hale, Making
Whiteness: The Culture of Segregation in the South, 1 890-1 940 (New York: Pantheon,
1998 ); James Allen (ed.), Without Sanctuary: Lynching Photography in America (Santa
Fe, NM: Twin Palms, 2000) .
1 8 . Also see, NAACP, “Education i n a Democracy,” March 1 , 1938, Papers of
William H. Hastie (Frederick, MD: University Publications of America, 1984), Part
2, Reel 33 ( hereafter Hastie Papers) .
19. Jessie Parkhurst Guzman (ed.), Negro Year Book: A Review ofEvents Affecting
Negro Life, 1 941-1 946 (Tuskegee, AL: Tuskegee Institute, 1 947), p. 56.
20. In 1 94 1 , the U.S. Office of Education estimated that it would take $43 million
to equalize schools. Using the relative GDP for 2005, that estimate equals
$4,227,303,867.40. Available online at eh.net/hmit/compare/. For the initial re­
port see Emery M. Foster to Walter White, December 2, 1 94 1 , Box B l 73, File “Sta­
tistics: Education of Negroes, 1 94 1 ,” Papers of the National Association for the Ad­
vancement of Colored People, Series B ( Legal Files), Part III, 1 940-1955, Library of
Congress, Washington, DC.NAACP.
2 1 . NAACP, “Education in a Democracy,” March 1 , 1938, Hastie Papers, Part 2,
Reel 33. Emphasis in original.
22. Quoted in Guzman, Negro Year Book, p. 57.
23. Guzman, Negro Year Book, p. 70. The actual percentages for African Americans
age twenty-five and older with less than five years education are: Alabama: 54. 1 percent;
Georgia: 58.6 percent; Louisiana 60.9 percent; Mississippi: 52.5 percent; and South
Carolina: 62.4 percent. For comparison, the figures for whites in those states with less
than five years education are: Alabama: 1 6.3 percent; Georgia 16.6 percent; Louisiana
2 1 .9 percent; Mississippi: 1 0. 3 percent; and South Carolina: 1 8 percent.
24. Henry F. Pringle and Katharine Pringle, “The Color Line in Medicine,” Sat­
urday Evening Post, January 24, 1 948, found in Box 54, File “United Nations: Negro
Question, 1 94 7-1 952,” Papers of Warren Austin, University ofVermont, Burlington,
Vermont ( hereafter Austin Papers) .
25. “The Color Line,” Austin Papers.
26. Guzman, Negro Year Book, pp. 324, 326, 3 3 1-332; “The Color Line,” Austin
Papers. To see the continuation of these health care disparities well into the civil rights
movement see, Walter J . Lear, “Testimony of the Medical Committee for Civil Rights
on the H . R. 7 1 52 , The President’s Civil Rights Bill before the Judiciary Committee,”
July 1 7, 1963, Bayard Rustin Papers ( Frederick, MD: University Publications of
America, 1988), Reel 4 ( hereafter Rustin Papers).
27. Guzman, Negro Yearbook, p. 320.
28. Senator George Aiken in Opposition to Lend Lease, Congressional Record,
February 25, 1 94 1 , pp. 1 360-1 363. For World War I’s unsavory colonial legacy, see
Wm. Roger Louis, “The Repartition of Africa during the First World War,” in Ends of
British Imperialism: The Scramble for Empire, Suez, and Decolonization ( London: IB
Tauris, 2006), pp. 205-224.
29. Elizabeth Borgwardt, A New Deal for the World: America’s Vision for Human
Rw-hts (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2005 ), pp. 1-45.
30. The Atlantic Charter, Avalon Project of Yale Law School, available online at
www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/wwiijatlantic.htm. Emphasis added.
3 1 . The Atlantic Charter, available online at www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/wwii/
atlantic.htm.
96
A HISTORY ()I’ H UMAN RIGHTS IN THE UNITED STATES
32. Johnpeter Horst Grill and Robert L. Jenkins, “The Nazis and the American
South in the 1 930s: A Mirror Image?,” Journal ofSouthern History 58( 4) ( November
1 992 ): 668.
33. “Political Action for the Negro: Delivered by Earl B. Dickerson, at the Phila­
delphia 3 1 st Annual Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of
Colored People,” June 1 9, 1 940, Papers of the National Association for the Advance­
ment of Colored People (Washington, DC: University Publications of America, 1 982)
(hereafter NAACP), Reel 1 0; Speech of Walter White at the Mass Meeting of the
March-on-Washington Movement, June 16, 1 942, Papers ofEleanor Roosevelt, 1 9331 945 (Frederick, MD: University Publications ofAmerica, 1 986) (hereafter Roosevelt),
Reel 1 9 .
34. Quoted i n Carol Anderson, Eyes off the Prize: The United Nations and the
African American Struggle for Human Rights, 1 944-1955 (New York: Cambridge
University Press, 2003 ), p. 1 0 . Excerpts from Eyes Off the Prize, © 2003 by Carol
Anderson. Reprinted with permission of Cambridge University Press.
3 5 . Quoted in Berg, Ticket to Freedom, p. 95 .
36. Workshop on Race and Non-Violence: Sheet no. 5, The American Racial Scene
Today, October 9, 1 943, Rustin Papers, Reel 5 .
37. “An Emergency Conference on the Status o f the Negro i n the War for the
Four Freedoms,” June 3-6, 1943, File “391 B,” Papers of Herbert Lehman, Herbert
Lehman Suite, Columbia University, New York, NY ( hereafter Lehman Papers).
38. Resolutions of the 3 3rd Annual Conference of the NAACP, July 1 4-19, 1942,
NAACP, Reel 1 1 ; Address of Walter White at the NAACP Annual Convention,
July 19, 1 942, ibid.; Walter White to Franklin D. Roosevelt, May 4, 1 942, Roosevelt,
Reel 1 9 ; Announcing the Eastern Seaboard Conference on the Problems of the War
and the Negro People, April 10, 1 943, Box 29, File “National Negro Congress,
1 936-5 1 ,” Papers of Asa Philip Randolph, Library of Congress, Washington, DC,
( hereafter Randolph Papers) .
39. An Emergency Conference on the Status of the Negro in the War for the Four
Freedoms, June 3, 1 943, File “39 1 B : Walter White,” Lehman Papers.
40. Announcing the Eastern Seaboard Conference, Randolph Papers.
4 1 . “We have come far in twenty months of war,” fragment, n.d., ca. August 1 943,
Box A299, File “William H. Hastie-General, July 1 943-August 1 944,” Papers of the
NAACP.
42. Julia Baxter to J.E. Magnuson, January 25, 1 944, Box A439, File “NAACP
Programs: Postwar, 1 943-44,” Papers of the NAA CP; Memorandum Presenting
Suggestive Notes on “The Negro Worker and His Struggle for Economic Justice,”
Prepared for Miss Thompson, September 1 1 , 1 940, attachment to Ralph Bunche to
Malvina C. Thompson, Papers of Ralph Bunche, Reel 2 ( hereafter Bunche Papers);
Radio Talk for Station KGFJ, by Roy Wilkins, July 16, 1 942, NAACP, Reel 1 1 .
43. A. Phillip Randolph: Movement for International Peace Conference Seat spon­
sored by Negro League for Real Democracy, February 1 2 , 1942, Box A507, File “A.
Philip Randolph, 1 942-5 5 ,” Papers ofthe NAA CP; Speech ofWalter White, June 16,
1942, Roosevelt, Reel 19; Walter to the Board of Directors, memorandum, February 8,
1943, Box A466, File “Peace Conference Committee to Present Views of Negroes at
Upcoming Peace Conference, 1943-44,” Papers ofthe NAA CP.
44. W.E.B. Du Bois, “The Negro and Imperialism,” transcript of radio broadcast,
November 1 5 , 1944, Box 527, File “Speakers: W.E.B. Du Bois, 1 944-48,” Papers of
the NAA CP.
45. Herbert Agar, “What We Are Fighting For: United Nations Must Show They
Seek Freedom for All,” PM July 24, 1942, found in file “Federal Council of Churches,
A “HOLLOW MOCKERY”
97
1941 [ 34],” Papers of Channing Tobias: YMCA Collection, University of Minnesota,
Minneapolis.
46. Harley Notter to Dean Rusk and Mr. Thompson, memo, March 14, 1 947,
Box 2 1 87, Decimal File 501 .BD/3 – 1 847 ( 1 945-49 ), General Records of the Depart­
ment of State Record Group 59, National Archives II, College Park, MD (hereafter
RG 59).
47. Quoted in Berg, Ticket to Freedom, p. 96.
48. Quoted in White, A Man Called White: The Autobiography of Walter White
(New York: The Viking Press, 1 948), pp. 1 08, 1 68; quoted in Harry S. Ashmore,
Civil Rights and Wrongs: A Memoir of Race and Politics, 1 944-1 994 (New York:
Pantheon Books, 1 994 ), p. 8; Address by Walter White, at closing meeting of Wartime
Conference, July 1 6, 1 944, Reel 1 9 , Roosevelt.
49. Durward Sandifer Oral History, Harry S. Truman Presidential Library, Inde­
pendence, MO.
50. Dred Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. 393, 19 How. 393, 15 L.Ed. 69 1 , ( 1 856), 14.
5 1 . Hamilton Fish Armstrong to Tom Connally, July 30, 1 945, Box 1 6, File
“Connally, Tom, 1 943, 1 945, 1 949 ,” Papers of Hamilton Fish Armstrong, Seely
Mudd Manuscript Library, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ ( hereafter Armstrong
Papers); Walter White’s handwritten notes of meeting with Corps Com., 9:30 a.m. 68
Post St., ca. May 1 , 1 945, Box 639, File “United Nations: United Nations Confer­
ence on International Organization-General, 1 945-July, 1 946,” Papers of the
NAACP; Meeting of the American Delegation, April 27, 1 945, Box 84, Folder 1 7,
Armstrong Papers; Meeting of the United States Delegation: Summary Record, April
27, 1 945, Box 84, Folder 1 8 , ibid. ; Hamilton Fish Armstrong’s handwritten minutes
of U.S. Delegates Meeting 5:30, May 2, 1 945, Box 84, Folder 23, ibid.
52. Hamilton Fish Armstrong’s handwritten minutes of U.S. Delegates Meeting
5:30, May 2 , 1 945, Box 84, Folder 23, Armstrong Papers.
53. “Report of the Secretary,” May 1 945, Part 1 , Reel 7, NAA CP; Walter White,
et al. to Stettinius, telegram, May 7, 1 945, Reel 58, Papers of W.E.B. Du Bois (Sanford,
NC: Microfilming Corporation of America, 1980), microfilm ( hereafter Du Bois);
Informal Consultation on Domestic Jurisdiction of the United States, the United
Kingdom, and Australia, June 1 , 1 945, Box 2 1 6, File “UNCIO-Domestic Jurisdic­
tion (General),” Files of Harley A. Notter: RG 59 ( hereafter Notter). Excerpts from
Eyes Off the Prize, © 2003 by Carol Anderson. Reprinted with permission of Cam­
bridge University Press.
54. “Proposed Article to be inserted as a new chapter in the Charter,” May 3,
1945, Box 2 1 6, File “UNCIO-Domestic Jurisdiction ( General),” Notter; Meeting of
the Big Four, 1 2 noon, May 4, 1 945, Box 84, Folder 25, Armstrong Papers; Meeting
of the United States Delegation, 6:20 p.m., May 3, 1 945, Box 84, Folder 24, ibid. ;
United Nations, “Amendments Proposed by the Governments o f the United States,
the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union and China,” May 5, 1 945, United Nations
Conference on International Ot;ganization San Francisco, 1 945: Documents Volume 3,
Dumbarton Oaks Proposals Comments and Proposed Amendments ( London: United
Nations Information Organizations, 1 945 ), pp. 622-623 . Excerpts from Eyes Off the
Prize, © 2003 by Carol Anderson. Reprinted with permission of Cambridge University
Press.
55. “Summary ofDebate on Domestic Jurisdiction: Joint Four-Power Amendment,”
June 1 , 1 945, ibid.
56. “Summary ofDebate on Domestic Jurisdiction: Joint Four-Power Amendment,”
June 1 , 1 945, ibid. Excerpts from Eyes Off the Prize, © 2003 by Carol Anderson.
Reprinted with permission of Cambridge University Press.
98
A HISTORY OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE UNITED STATES
57. Donald C. Blaisdell, Oral History, Harry S. Truman Presidential Library, Inde­
pendence, MO.
58. Harley Notter to Dean Rusk and Mr. Thompson, memo, March 14, 1 947,
Box 2 1 87, Decimal File 501 .BD/3- 1 847 ( 1 945-49 ), RG 59. Excerpts from Eyes Off
the Prize, © 2003 by Carol Anderson. Reprinted with permission of Cambridge Uni­
versity Press.
59. Ralph Ellison, Shadow and Act (New York: Random House, 1 964), p. 28.
Excerpts from Eyes Off the Prize, © 2003 by Carol Anderson. Reprinted with permis­
sion of Cambridge University Press.
60. “Discussion on Principles and Problems Relating to Minorities with a View to
Prepare Instructions to the United States Delegate,” SD/E/HR/MINDIS/D-3,
August 27, 1 946, Box 47, File “SD/E/HR/MINDIS/1 -4,” Lot File 82D2 1 1 , RG
59; James Green to Durward Sandifer, May 2 1 , 1953, Box 8 , File “Ninth Session of
the Commission,” Lot File 55D429, RG 59. Excerpts from Eyes Offthe Prize, © 2003
by Carol Anderson. Reprinted with permission of Cambridge University Press.
6 1 . [ James Hendrick,] Covenant on Human Rights, draft letter, January 14, 1 948 ,
Box 2, File “Human Rights Memorandum,” Papers ofJames Hendrick, Harry S. Tru­
man Presidential Library, Independence, MO (hereafter Hendrick Papers) .
62 . Logan to White, memo, March 8, 1948, Box 1 8 1 -8 , Folder 3 , Papers ofRay­
ford Logan, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University, Washington,
DC (hereafter Logan-MSRC); James Simsarian to Eleanor Roosevelt, December 2 1 ,
1 949 , Box 4588, File ” Human Rights Commission, 1949,” Papers of Eleanor
Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library, Hyde Park, NY (hereafter
Roosevelt Papers). White to Rayford Logan, September 25, 195 1 , Box 1 8 1 -8, Folder
3, Logan-MSRC; White to Rayford Logan, October 24, 195 1 , ibid.; “Statement to
the Press by Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt on the ‘Federal State’ Clause of the Covenant
on Human Rights,” press release, June 6, 1952, Box 4588, File “Human Rights
Commission, undated,” Roosevelt Papers; Lowell Limpus, “UN Pact Won’t Clash
with States’ Rights, Says Mrs. Roosevelt,” June 9, 1952, found in Box 626, File “UN
Secur. Council ‘Commission on Human Rt of the Econ & Soc Coun,” Republican
National Committee Newspaper Clippings, Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Li­
brary, Abilene, KS (hereafter RNC); White to Jacob Javits, March 6, 1952, Box 1 1 7,
File “Bills: McCarran Bill-General-1 950-52,” Papers of the NAACP. Excerpts
from Eyes Off the Prize, © 2003 by Carol Anderson. Reprinted with permission of
Cambridge University Press.
63. Durward V. Sandifer to Mr. Green, Mr. Hiss, et al., memo, May 2 1 , 1 946,
Box 8, File “Human Rights: March 1945-December 3 1 , 1 947,” Lot File 55D429,
RG 59.
64. Quoted in Howard Tolley Jr., The U N. Commission on Human Rttrhts ( Boulder:
Westview, 1 987), pp. 16, 18; Charles S. Murphy to D .V. Sandifer, memo April 14,
1 948, Box 533, File “85-Q Human Rights Commission Folder,” Papers ofHarry S.
Truman: Official File, Harry S. Truman Presidential Library, Independence, MO
(hereafter Truman: OF); Durward V. Sandifer to Eleanor Roosevelt, April 1 6, 1 948,
Box 4595, (No File), Roosevelt Papers; Draft Memo of Conversation with Roosevelt,
Sandifer, Hendrick on March 4, 1 948, April 20, 1 948, Box 2, File “Human Rights
Memorandum,” Hendrick Papers; “Human Rights and International Organization,”
n.d., Box 4588, File “Human Rights Commission, undated,” Roosevelt Papers; State­
ment of the Position of the United States on Petitions by Individuals in Relation to a
Covenant on Human Rights, April 30, 1 948, Box 4593, File “Mrs. Roosevelt,” ibid.
65. “Problems of Discrimination and Minority Status in the United States,”
January 22, 1 947, Box 43, File “SD/E/CN.4/1 -43,” Lot File 82D2 1 l, RG 59.
66. Ibid.
A “HOLLOW MOCKERY”
99
67. Mary L. Dudziak, Cold War Civil Rights: Race and the Image of American
Democracy ( Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000 ); Thomas Borstelmann,
The Cold War and the Color Line: American Race Relations in the Global Arena ( Cam­
bridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 200 1 ) .
68. “Commission on Human Rights, First Session of Full Commission, January
1947: Consideration of Communications Received,” SD/CS.4/5, January 16, 1 947,
Box 4594, File “U.N. Human Rights Commission, 1 946-June 1 947,” Roosevelt
Papers; Robert McClintock to Robert A. Lovett, November 2 5 , 1 947, memo, Box
4595, File “Book I: Position Book for Second Session of Commission on Human
Rights, Geneva, Switzerland, December 1-19, 1 947,” ibid.; Marginalia on Harley
Notter to Dean Rusk and Mr. Thompson, memo, March 14, 1 947, Box 2 1 87, Deci­
mal File 5 0 1 .BD/3 – 1 847 ( 1945-49 ), RG 59.
69. NAACP, An Appeal to the World! A Statement on the Denial ofHuman Rights to
Minorities in the Case of Citizens of Negro Descent in the United States ofAmerica and
an Appeal to the United Nationsfor Redress ( New York: NAACP, 1 947), pp. 62-63.
70. Ibid., pp. 64-65.
7 1 . Ibid., p. 66. $25 million in 1943 is the equivalent in 2005 of$ l ,567 ,950,654.58
using the relative share of GDP. Comparison calculations available online at eh.net/
hmit/compare.
72 . Jonathan Daniels to James Hendrick, October 29, 1 947, Folder 597, Papers of
Jonathan Daniels, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (hereafter Daniels Papers).
73. Eleanor Roosevelt to White, December 8, 1 947, Box 635, File “United
Nations General Assembly, 1 946-August 1948,” Papers of the NAACP; Eleanor
Roosevelt, “My Day: The Delegate from Lebanon Was Missing,” December 5, 1947,
found in Folder 603, Daniels Papers; Eleanor Roosevelt to Walter White, January 20,
1948, Box 3389, File “White, Walter, 1 947-50,” Roosevelt Papers. Excerpts from Eyes
Off the Prize, © 2003 by Carol Anderson. Reprinted with permission of Cambridge
University Press.
74. Walter White to Eleanor Roosevelt, December 3 1 , 1 947, ibid.; Comment
Paper: Discrimination Against Negroes in the United States, August 30, 1 948, SD/
A/C.3/75, Box 1 75 , File “Background Book: Committee III (Social, Humanitarian,
and Cultural), Volume IV,” Records of the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, Record
Group 84, National Archives II, College Park, MD (hereafter RG 84); Walter White
to Eleanor Roosevelt, January 1 0, 1 948, Box 3389, File “White, Walter, 1 947-50,”
Roosevelt Papers; Eleanor Roosevelt to Walter White, January 20, 1948, ibid.; Risa
Lauren Goluboff, ‘”Let Economic Equality Take Care of ltself’: The NAACP, Labor
Litigation, and the Making of Civil Rights in the 1 940s,” UCLA Law Review 52( 5 )
(June 2005 ) : 1 393-1486. Excerpts from Eyes Off the Prize, © 2003 by Carol Ander­
son. Reprinted with permission of Cambridge University Press.
75. Chester S. Williams to Mrs. Roosevelt, et al. , memorandum of conversation,
September 9, 1 948, Box 78, File ” 1 948-49, Discrimination: Race,” RG 84. For the
political reasons behind the clash between White and Du Bois see, Anderson, Eyes Off
the Prize, pp. 1 1 3-165.
76. Frank Holman, The Life and Career of a Western Lawyer, 1 886-1 961 ( Balti­
more, MD: Port City Press, 1963), pp. 569-570; Fisher to Rusk, memo, January 19,
1950, box 8 , File “Genocide (folder 1 of 2 ),” Lot File 5 5D429, RG 59; Phleger to
Dulles, memo, March 30, 1953, Box 70, File “Re: Genocide Convention, 1953,”
Papers ofJohn Foster Dulles, Seely Mudd Manuscript Library, Princeton University,
Princeton, NJ (hereafter ]FD-Princeton); Minutes of Cabinet Meeting, February 20,
1953, Box 1, File “Cabinet Meeting of February 20, 1953,” Cabinet Series, Papers
of Dwight D. Eisenhower: Ann Whitman Files, Dwight D . Eisenhower Presidential
Library, Abilene, KS (hereafter Eisenhower: AWF) .
1 00
A HISTORY OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE UNITED STATES
77. “Bringing the Constitution Up-to-Date: Address by Senator John W. Bricker
before the Annual Convention of the Ohio State Bar Association at Cincinnati, Ohio,”
April 22, 1953, Box 160, File “2,” Papers ofJohn W. Bricker, Ohio Historical Society,
Columbus, OH ( hereafter Bricker Papers) .
78. Eisenhower to J . Earl Schaefer, January 22, 1 954, Box 5, File “DDE Diary
January 1 954 ( l ),” Diary Series, Eisenhower: AWF; quoted in Ambrose, Eisenhower:
The President, Vol. I I ( New York: Simon and Schuster, 1 984), pp. 70, 1 5 5 .
79 . Caroline Pruden, Conditional Partners: Eisenhower, the United Nations, and the
Searchfor a Permanent Peace (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1 998),
p. 202; James Hendrick to James Simsarian, July 27, 1 948, Box 2, File ” Human
Rights Memorandum,” Hendrick Papers; Committee Completes General Discussion
on Human Rights, press release, May 4, 1 948, SOC/504, found in Box 634, File
“United Nations: General, 1 948-49,” Papers of the NAA CP.
80. Pruden, Conditional Partners, p. 203.
8 1 . Minutes of Cabinet Meeting, February 20, 1953, Box 1 , File “Cabinet Meeting
of February 20, 195 3,” Cabinet Series, Eisenhower: AWF; Memorandum from Ralph
E. Becker [to Senator Thomas J. Hennings Jr. ] , January 22, 1954, Folder 4772, Pa­
pers of Thomas J. Hennings, Jr., Western Historical Manuscript Collection, University
of Missouri, Columbia, MO ( hereafter Hennings Papers) ; Fisher to Rusk, memo,
January 19, 1 950, Box 8, File “Genocide (folder 1 of 2 ),” Lot File 55D429, RC 59.
82. Broadcast WLIB and Affiliated Stations: Walter White, April 9, 1953, Box
1 1 3, File “Bricker Amendment Press Releases, 1 9 5 3-54,” ibid.
8 3 . Walter White to Senator, April 16, 1953, Box 1 1 3 , File “Bills Bricker Amend­
ment Correspondence, 1952-55,” ibid.
84. Edward A. Conway, ” ‘Darling Daughter’ Amendment,” America, January 23,
1 954, found in Folder 4772, Hennings Papers; Eisenhower to Senator William F .
Knowland, January 25, 1954, Box 5 , File “DDE Diary January 1954 ( l ),” Diary
Series, Eisenhower: AWF; Eisenhower to Earl Schaefer, January 22, 1 954, ibid.; Notes
on the Bricker Amendment from Donovan’s book, Eisenhower, The Inside Story, Box
7, File “Bricker Amendment-Draft Talk ( 1 ),” Administration Series, ibid.
8 5. Francis 0. Wilcox, Chief of Staff� Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 1 9471955, Oral History, Interview #3, Congress and the Cold War, March 2 1 , 1 984,
available online at www.senate.gov/learning/learn_history_oralhist_wilcox3 .html,
pp. 1 33 , 1 48-149. Accessed July 1 5, 200 1 .
86. Phleger to Dulles, memo, March 30, 1953, Box 70, File ” Re: Genocide Con­
vention, 1 9 53,” ]FD-Princeton.
87. Tananbaum, The Bricker Amendment, pp. 1 79-1 80; Amendment to Constitu­
tion Relative to Treaties and Executive Agreements, roll call votes, Journal of the Sen­
ate of the United States of America, 8 3rd Congress, 2nd Session, p. 1 59 . Excerpts
from Eyes Off the Prize, © 2003 by Carol Anderson. Reprinted with permission of
Cambridge University Press.
88. Excerpts from Eyes Off the Prize, © 2003 by Carol Anderson. Reprinted with
permission of Cambridge University Press.
89. J . Mills Thornton III, Dividing Lines: Municipal Politics and the Struggle for
Civil Rights in Montgomery, Birmingham, and Selma (Tuscaloosa: University of Ala­
bama Press, 2002 ).
90. U.S. Riot Commission, Report of the National Advisory Commission on Civil
Disorders: What Happened ? Why Did it Happen ? What Can be Done? ( New York,
1 968).
9 1 . Bayard Rustin speech at Grand Valley State College in Michigan, March 25,
1985, Rustin Papers, Reel 2, Emphasis in original .
A “HOLLOW MOCKERY”
101
92 . Jonathan Alter, “The Other America: After Katrina II-Confronting Poverty
& Migration,” Newsweek, September 19, 2005 . For the ongoing crisis in education
and its effects on African Americans see, Civic Report, November 200 1 , High School
Graduation Rates in the United States (revised April 2002 ), Jay P. Greene, Ph. D . ,
Senior Fellow, Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, available online at www
.manhattan-institute.org/html/cr_baeo.htm#08 , October 20, 2005; Gary Orfield,
Susan E. Eaton et al., Dismantling Desegregation: The Q;tiet Reversal of Brown v.
Board of Education ( New York: New Press, 1996); for housing, see George Lipsitz,
The Possessive Investment in Whiteness: How White People Profit from Identity Politics
(Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1 998 ), pp. 1 3-14; Urban Institute, Report
Card on Discrimination, pp. 3 5-37; Urban Institute, “A Foot in the Door? : New
Evidence on Housing Discrimination ( February 2003 ), available online at www
.urban.org/publications/900625 . html; for the health care crisis, see Kevin Watkins,
Human Development Report 2005: International Cooperation at a Crossroads, Aid,
Trade, and Security in an Unequal World ( New York: United Nations Development
Programme, 2005 ), p. 58; Dave Davis and Elizabeth Marchak, “Deadly Differences,”
Cleveland Plain Dealer, March 1 2 , 2000; Dr. Adewale Troutman, “Unequal Treat­
ment,” PBS Online Newhour with Jim Lehrer, March 9, 2005; Institute of Medicine
ofthe National Academies, “Unequal Treatment: Confronting Racial and Ethnic Dis­
parities in Health Care,” March 20, 2002; for employment and wealth, see Rakesh
Kochhar, The Wealth of Hispanic Households: 1 996 to 2002 (Washington, DC: Pew
Hispanic Trust, 2004), p. 2; Mariann Bertrand and Sendhil Mullainathan, “Are Emily
and Greg More Employable than Lakisha and Jamal?: A Field Experiment on Labor
Market Discrimination,” Working Papers Series WP 03-22, Massachusetts Institute of
Technology Department of Economics, 2003, available online at www.nber.org/
papersjW9873; Devah Pager, “The Mark of a Criminal Record,” American Journal of
Sociology 1 08 (2003): 937-975; Andrew Hacker, Two Nations: Black and White, Sepa­
rate, Hostile, Unequal, 2nd ed. ( New York: Ballantine Books, 1 995), pp. 1 1 2-138.
93. Warren Austin to Henry L. Moon, December 23, 1952, Box 54, File “United
Nations: Negro Question, 1947-1952,” Austin Papers; “The Shaming of America,”
Economist, September 1 0, 2005, p. 1 1 .
94. Walter White to Herbert Lehman et al. , telegram, July 1 1 , 1 950, Box A6 1 7,
File “State Department: Point IV Program, 1 949-54,” Papers ofthe NAA CP.
Chapter 1 from Jensen, Steven L.B. (2016)
The Making of International Human Rights:
The 1960s, Decolonization, and the
Reconstruction of Global Values
Cambridge University Press
1
“Power carries its own conviction”
The early rise and fall of human rights, 1945–1960
“The chief novelty of the Declaration was its universality”
Rene Cassin, UN General Assembly, December 9, 19481
“Its moral force cannot rest on the fact of its universality – or practical
universality – as soon as it is realized that it has proved acceptable to all
for the reason that it imposes obligations upon none.”
Hersch Lauterpacht (1949), “The Universal Declaration
of Human Rights”2
It is December 7, 1948. The “International Bill of Human Rights” is one
of many agenda items. It has been two years in the making. The delegates
are now reaching decision time on the future of human rights in the work
of this international organization. We are in Guadeloupe – the French
island territory in the Caribbean. The occasion is the third West Indian
Conference of the Caribbean Commission.
Half a world away the UN General Assembly is in session in Paris.
The Commission on Human Rights has presented the “Draft International Declaration on Human Rights” to the Assembly. After more than
two months of debate stretching over eighty-five meetings the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly votes to adopt the document that one
week earlier, upon the initiative of French delegate Rene Cassin, was
renamed the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” The debate in
the Third Committee ends on December 7, 1948.
Meanwhile back in Guadeloupe, the delegates prepare themselves for
the human rights debate. The item was placed on the agenda in 1946
1
Mr. Cassin (France), UN General Assembly, 3rd session, 180th meeting, December 9,
1948, p. 866.
2 Hersch Lauterpacht (1949), “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights”, The British
Yearbook of International Law 1948. London, p. 372.
18
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“Power carries its own conviction”
19
when it was decided that the Caribbean Commission should consider
developing a regional “Bill of Human Rights and Obligations.”3 In a
1945 debate in the State Department, the distinguished African American
diplomat Ralph Bunche, who served on the Caribbean Commission, recognized that the Caribbean was a testing ground for the Atlantic Powers’
“treatment of colonial peoples.”4 The 1948 human rights debate proved a
case in point. The colonial powers in the Caribbean…
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