The post-war Civil Rights Movement, 1945–1965
in The Debate on Black Civil Rights in America
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The preoccupation with Martin Luther King in early studies on the post-war Civil Rights Movement can be explained by a number of factors. When eschewing a biographical approach, early historians of the Civil Rights Movement typically sought to achieve insights into their subject through traditional political and institutional studies. The Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s raised difficult ethical issues for religious leaders of all faiths, but the moral challenge was perhaps most painful of all for southern Jewish communities. The relationship between black civil rights and US foreign policy was another little-explored area that attracted the attention of scholars in the 1990s. Members of a long persecuted minority it was easy for Jews in the region to empathize with the experiences of African Americans. At the same time active support for the civil rights campaign carried the risk of provoking anti-Semitic violence and retaliation by segregationist groups.

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