Colloquium: UnAmerican Activities: The Politics of the Red Scare and Racism in the United States
Dr. Cindy Patton
Professor, Sociology and Anthropology, SFU
From the late 1940s to the early 1960s, the US had a program to identify where and how “communists” infiltrated organizations. The so-called “House Committee on UnAmerican Activities” resulted in banning many Hollywood directors, actors, and writers.
Less well-known is the role the HUAC committee played in resisting Supreme Court mandated efforts to racially integrate the American South. Despite protests by Southern Black clergy arguing that “red-baiting” was used to sustain racial segregation in the South, HUAC investigated communist influence in what it referred to as “The Southland.”
This talk considers the way these protests were understood by the liberal press. It looks at the reception of a film, Intruder in the Dust, which resulted in the blacklisting of its screen writer, juxtaposed a critique of lynching made by a Black man with the uncertainty of liberal whites who opposed racism, but were afraid of integration.
With the election of Donald Trump, and the call to reinvigorate a House Committee to investigate terrorism, this past may be closer than we think.
Dr. Cindy Patton is professor of sociology and anthropology at Simon Fraser University. She has published widely in the areas of health politics, media, and social movements.