June 8, 1998
Release No. 027-98
CONTACT: Jimmye Walker
PHONE: (202) 619-4372

United States Information Agency
- News Release

Topics for Conference of Historians Include Civil Rights and American Foreign Relations

Washington, D.C. -- The Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR) will hold its 24th annual conference, in collaboration with the National Archives and Records Administration, June 18-20, 1998, on the University of Maryland campus.

Historian Melinda M. Schwenk, a doctoral candidate at the University of Pennsylvania, will make a 20-minute presentation under the conference topic RACE, CIVIL RIGHTS, and U.S. FOREIGN POLICY. She feels her research titled, “The USIA Response to the Little Rock Crisis of 1957: Civil Rights, Foreign Affairs, and Public Diplomacy” captures the very essence of the United States Information Agency (USIA) mission. That is, in part, “ present American society in all its complexity so that others can understand the context of U.S. actions...”

Researching the National Archives for USIA tapes from 1953 - 1976, Ms. Schwenk developed a presentation which demonstrates the dilemma USIA faced in the 1950s trying to relay to the rest of the world America’s belief in the rights of the individual. In 1957, movie newsreels from AP and UPI reported Vice President Richard Nixon in Ghana attending the ceremony and demonstrating U.S. support for that African nation’s declaration of independence. The same news sources were reporting footage of the Little Rock crisis, which depicted U.S. internal turmoil and resistance to integration. It was USIA’s mission to explain to foreign publics the inherent conflicts in a democratic society.

  • WHO: Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations
  • WHAT: 24th Annual Conference
  • WHEN: June 19, 1998 (9:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.)
  • WHERE: National Archives at College Park (Archives II), Adelphi Road, College Park, MD

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