The impact of the struggle for racial equality in the United States on British racialised relations from 1958 to 1968

Sanderson, N. (1999) The impact of the struggle for racial equality in the United States on British racialised relations from 1958 to 1968. University of Southampton, School of Humanities, Department of History, Doctoral Thesis , 211pp.


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During the late 1950s and the 1960s America faced a high level of racial tension. At the same
time Britain imposed racially discriminatory immigration controls and passed legislation to
outlaw racial discrimination. This thesis asks to what extent the events in the United States had
an impact on the response of British institutions to the development of a multi-racial society
and increased rate of non-white immigration during these crucial years between the 1958 race
riots to the Kenyan Asian crisis.
The first part of the thesis examines the background to British perceptions about both the
'special relationship1 with the United States and images of African Americans in the period
prior to the years under review. It explores the ways in which the white British population was
more informed about African Americans than the inhabitants of the colonies, and subsequently
the Commonwealth.
The following section examines ways in which the press and government drew on the
activities of the Civil Rights Movement and the rise of Black Power in the United States during
the 1960s to illustrate arid support their arguments. It notes the high level of interest in Britain
in American news and the increasing sense of concern within press reports and debates in the
House that Britain was heading for an American style racial conflict.
The third part ofthe thesis examines four sections of the British population which could be
said to have a special interest in this issue: the non-white immigrants themselves; antiimmigrants
groups; the religious denominations and British Jews: and organisations which
sought to promote racial harmony. The study examines not only the response ofthese sections
ofthe population to American racial trouble but the ways in which their activities had an
impact on British perceptions. As the most concerned sections ofthe population, their
activities were those most frequently reported by the press.
In varying degrees, the responses ofthese sections of the population to the issues of
immigration and racial discrimination reflected a growing concern that Britain was following
the United States towards racial conflict. This perception was fed by both the press and
government action and in turn had an impact on both public opinion and politicians and created
a national mood in which debate over these related issues was coloured by the increasingly
tense racial situation in the United States. 1967 and 1968 were the years in which this national
perception was at its height and witnessed the passage ofthe Immigration Bill which excluded
the entry of Kenyan Asians and the extension of Race Relations legislation. This thesis traces
the development ofthis national mood, the significance of which has previously been

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information: Digitized via the E-THOS exercise.
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D839 Post-war History, 1945 on
Divisions : University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Humanities > History
ePrint ID: 43786
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
October 1999Made publicly available
Date Deposited: 30 Jan 2007
Last Modified: 27 Mar 2014 18:28

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