Opposing Jim Crow


Opposing Jim Crow

African Americans and the Soviet Indictment of U.S. Racism, 1928-1937

Meredith L. Roman

Justice and Social Inquiry Series

320 pages
7 illustrations


July 2012


$55.00 Add to Cart

December 2019


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eBook (EPUB)
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December 2019


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eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

July 2012


$30.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

Before the Nazis came to power in Germany, Soviet officials labeled the United States the most racist country in the world. Photographs, children’s stories, films, newspaper articles, political education campaigns, and court proceedings exposed the hypocrisy of America’s racial democracy. In contrast, the Soviets represented the USSR itself as a superior society where racism was absent and identified African Americans as valued allies in resisting an imminent imperialist war against the first workers’ state.

Meredith L. Roman’s Opposing Jim Crow examines the period between 1928 and 1937, when the promotion of antiracism by party and trade union officials in Moscow became a priority policy. Soviet leaders stood to gain considerable propagandistic value at home and abroad by drawing attention to U.S. racism, their actions simultaneously directed attention to the routine violation of human rights that African Americans suffered as citizens of the United States. Soviet policy also challenged the prevailing white supremacist notion that blacks were biologically inferior and thus unworthy of equality with whites. African Americans of various political and socioeconomic backgrounds became indispensable contributors to Soviet antiracism and helped officials in Moscow challenge the United States’ claim to be the world’s beacon of democracy and freedom.

Author Bio

Meredith L. Roman is an assistant professor of history at SUNY–Brockport. Her articles have appeared in the Journal of Communist Studies and Transition Politics, International Labor and Working-Class History, Race & Class, and Critique: A Journal of Socialist Theory.


“Roman’s study adds a dimension most U.S. historians can only envy. . . . A fuller account is unlikely to appear, and the logic of Opposing Jim Crow could not easily be impeached.”—James G. Ryan, Journal of American History

"A rich addition to the literature on Russian-American relations."—W. B. Whisenhunt, Choice

“Breaks new theoretical ground. . . . Roman’s work, when closely read, might yet yield clues to a better understanding of the seemingly mysterious origins (and virulence) of post-Soviet racism.”—Maxim Matusevich, Slavic Review

“Essential reading for those seeking a deeper understanding of the uneasy relationship between black radicals and Soviet propaganda, in both the decade it covers and beyond.”—Allison Blakely, Russian Review

"Well written and well argued."—Randi Storch, Journal of Southern History

"Opposing Jim Crow sheds light on the very real impact of institutionalized Soviet antiracism, which makes this book a welcome addition to the history of the Soviet Union."—Tony Pecinovsky, People's World

"A clear and vibrant read."—Amanda Higgins, The Register

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations


Introduction: The Birth of a Nation

1. American Racism on Trial and the Poster Child for Soviet Antiracism

2. "This Is Not Bourgeois America": Representations of American Racial Apartheid and Soviet Racelessness

3. The Scottsboro Campaign: Personalizing American Racism and Speaking Antiracism

4. African American Architects of Soviet Antiracism and the Challenge of Black and White

5. The Promises of Soviet Antiracism and the Integration of Moscow's International Lenin School

Epilogue: Circus and Going Soft on American Racism




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