The Path to the Greater, Freer, Truer World:
Southern Civil Rights and Anticolonialism, 1937–1955

Lindsey R. Swindall

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"A fresh and engaging study that illuminates the important, related, yet neglected histories of the Southern Negro Youth Congress and the Council on African Affairs. Especially noteworthy is the perceptive treatment of the linkages between these related organizations' domestic and international politics."--Waldo E. Martin, coauthor of Freedom on My Mind: A History of African Americans with Documents

"A welcome addition to the growing body of literature that examines the interplay between civil rights and international affairs."--John Kirk, author of Redefining the Color Line: Black Activism in Little Rock, Arkansas, 1940-1970

"Swindall puts the 'long civil rights' movement on a dynamic new world map. Her meticulous use of archival materials opens up new roots and routes for scholars of American race history."--Bill Mullen, author of Afro-Orientalism


The Southern Negro Youth Congress and the Council on African Affairs were two organizations created as part of the early civil rights efforts to address race and labor issues during the Great Depression. They fought within a leftist, Pan-African framework against disenfranchisement, segregation, labor exploitation, and colonialism.

By situating the development of the SNYC and the Council on African Affairs within the scope of the long civil rights movement, Lindsey Swindall reveals how these groups conceptualized the U.S. South as being central to their vision of a global African diaspora. Both organizations illustrate well the progressive collaborations that maintained an international awareness during World War II. Cleavages from anti-radical repression in the postwar years are also evident in the dismantling of these groups when they became casualties of the early Cold War.

By highlighting the cooperation that occurred between progressive activists from the Popular Front to the 1960s, Swindall adds to our understanding of the intergenerational nature of civil rights and anticolonial organizing.

Lindsey R. Swindall, a teaching assistant professor at Stevens Institute of Technology, is the author of The Politics of Paul Robeson’s Othello and Paul Robeson: A Life of Activism and Art.
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A useful, well-researched reminder that the US struggle for racial civic inclusion domestically and anticolonial fairness internationally was more ideologically and tactically diverse than popularly portrayed….Recommended. -- Choice

Illuminatingly covers the Southern Negro Youth Congress and the Council on African Affairs, two very important organizations in US history but very much understudied.-- African American Intellectual History Society

Those wishing to explore the CAA or the SNYC or the connections between the U.S. South and the black freedom and anticolonial struggles will be glad that Swindall had helped enrich that understanding.-- Journal of American History

Adds much-needed texture to the growing historiography on African American protest politics and the global understandings of racism during the 1930s and 1940s.-- American Historical Review

Joins a growing number of monographs that complicate our understanding of how the anticolonial struggle outside the United States influenced American civil rights activists. . . .[and] illuminates the civil rights movement’s persistence despite the postwar Red Scare.-- North Carolina Historical Review

Presents a cogent and succinct examination of the black left during the Great Depression, World War II, and the early Cold War. . . .[and] does a brilliant job defending its central thesis with insightful sources.-- Register of the Kentucky Historical Society

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