The Use of American Sociology’s “Race Relations” Paradigm to Silence W.E.B. Du Bois’ Critiques of Racial Capitalism at the U.N. (1948-1951)

Julia Bates, Sacred Heart University

Sociologists document how American sociology marginalized W.E.B. Du Bois through the advancement of Robert Park’s “race relations” paradigm (McKee 1993; Morris 2015; Steinberg 2017). However, there is little research on the ways in which sociology’s “race-relations” paradigm was used within a joint propaganda effort between the NAACP and U.S. State Department to marginalize Du Bois a efforts to leverage the United Nations (U.N.) against racial violence. During the Cold War, W.E.B. Du Bois advanced a critique of racial capitalism, to incite the United Nations to take action against U.S. imperialism’s promotion of violence along the global color line. However, these efforts were thwarted by an alliance between the U.S. State Department and prominent leaders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored Peoples (N.A.A.C.P.) against Du Bois, and other critics of racial capitalism like Paul Robeson and William L. Patterson. Drawing on data from two U.N. petitions from Du Bois, Paul Robeson and William Patterson, as well as statements by leadership of the NAACP to the U.N. on behalf of the U.S. State Department, I argue the U.S. State Department crafted a refutation of the U.N. petitions that heavily drew on prominent themes in the sociology’s “race relations” paradigm to defend U.S. imperialism against critiques of racial capitalism during the Cold War.

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 Presented in Session 251. New Perspectives on the Long Civil Rights Movement