In 1958, Jimmy Wilson would be the center of international attention. After he was sentenced to death in Alabama for stealing less than two dollars in change, Wilson’s case was thought to encapsulate the harsh consequences of Americans racism. This in turn brought to the surface international anxiety about the Americans race relations. Because United States was the leader of the free world, racism in the country would be an international concern. Racism has been the talk since before the 18th century. We have seen some many instances where racism has played a major part in the lives of many. But never have we seen it on an international scale. But being that the United States leader of the free world racism brought about a concern from all the nations around small lead to something so controversial. They wanted to know how the American democracy be a lighthouse during the cold war and a model for the people struggling against the Soviet oppression, if America itself practiced brutal discrimination against minorities within its own borders.
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This quandary started on July 27, 1957. The details that came to his untimely and cruel hearing were shaky from the start. Mr. Wilson worked for a lady by the name of Estelle Baker, an old dame, in Marion, Alabama. As he told a Toronto reporter. Ms.barker let him in her house one evening, and they got into an argument, which resulted in her throwing some money on the bed. Wilson took the money and left, but it was not even enough for a cab fare. But Baker told a more menacing side to the story and along with him taking her money she claims that he also attempted to rape her, but it was not successful. Wilson was charged with robbery the stealing of $1.95, but with the unauthorized testification of Ms. Baker without any thought Jimmy Wilson was convicted by an all-white jury and was sentenced to death. Since the other nations followed closely with race in the United States with great interest, the Wilson’s case without a doubt came to be international news.
People were so disturbed by the thought of a man being put to death by electrocution from the chair for less than two dollars. He got attention from the Voice of Ethiopia, and Ashanti pioneer, as well as being widely publicized in West Africa. This led to businessmen of America calling the U.S. embassy in Monrovia to express their concerns about Wilson’s convictions. Even an Norwegian housewife sent a letter expressing her sympathy Jimmy and plead lenience for him. There were even some extreme concerns for Mr. Jimmy in one instance the threatened the U.S. embassy that if Wilson was executed then the U.S. ambassador would not survive either. Even a spokesperson for the NAACP said it would be a sad blot on the nation if Wilson was executed. He also called that the communist would take the headline and run with it and they did exactly that. The communist newspaper in Rome. L’Unita, called the death sentence a new revolution crime by the United States segregationist while under the headline This Is America. This ruling had got more than enough attention for the judge to change his might and dismiss the case and the ruling. But why did it need to go this far for the people of Alabama to realized how unfair their ruling was.
America’s justice system has not change much since the 1950’s. We constantly today see the black community slip faster into prison than they do into a decent job. The choice for them the go to jail provides money for the government and they could care less about whether or not a black man is treated fair and equal. The 6th and 8th amendment were created for equality, but it seemed as though it brought no effect to the right of an African American. There was in the least no need for a man to be killed because he took approximately 2 dollars which was again not even enough for a cab ride home. While the cold war faced its own challenges American within itself had internal conflicts of its own. We had no grounds to distract the world from a major matter over our selfish and unnecessary actions against a man of color. The world should have never known about jimmy Wilson because America should’ve had the sense to know that the death sentence was not even need at the table when choosing the punishment of a petty robbery. We had no sense of moral when it came to the thoughts and feeling towards the black men and women of America.
The war over communism lied within that homes of some black people and though none chose to speak there was a prominent black intellectual at the time by the name of William Edward Burghardt Du Bois (W.E.B. Du Bois) who was publicly known in his siding with the Soviet Union in the cold war. He wrote in an unpublished manuscript about the soviet’s achievements. You might wonder why praise Josef Stalin even at his awareness of the soviet violence. The key to understanding took to his wife Shirley Graham who was procommunist and connect to many communist countries like Egypt, Ghana, China, the Soviet Union, And Europe. WEB viewed the Soviet Union- even looking passed the monstrous acts carried out on their own country- as making considerable progress in creating a society free of racial hierarchy, whereas the United States lagged. The progress reverberated well with African Americans and people of color living in newly independent formerly colonized countries.
Dudziak, Mary L. Cold War Civil Rights: Race and the Image of American Democracy. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press, 2011.
“Stanford Scholar Tells History of Cold War from African American Perspective.” Stanford News, March 8, 2017. Accessed December 7, 2018. https://news.stanford.edu/2017/03/08/cold-war-african-american-perspective/.
The Civil Rights And Its Role In The Cold War For America. (2019, Mar 21).
Retrieved February 5, 2023 , from
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