Two Treaties, and Global Influences of the American Civil Rights Movements, Through the Black International Tradition

24 Pages Posted: 17 Nov 2011 Last revised: 28 Feb 2012

See all articles by Henry J. Richardson

Henry J. Richardson

Temple University - James E. Beasley School of Law

Date Written: 2010


The Black International Tradition is essential for understanding the necessity of critical scholarship in law and other disciplines, as we remember the birth of the modern Civil Rights Movement a half-century ago. Laid down over 400 years, and without the permission of either federal authority in Washington or controlling white interests, this Tradition is an integral part of Black people’s history on American soil. It includes Black claims and responses over the last 150 years to the news of mass organized Black struggle in overseas lands, as this process has supported the historic struggle against racism. The Civil Rights Movement has had its own global impact, including on the international peace movement, comparative constitutional law and on two Nobel Peace Prizes, through the historic work of DuBois, Ghandi, King, and the African National Congress in South Africa. Part of the authority of the Tradition bears on the impact of key treaties in the United States which each served as a fulcrum for contemporary African American debates and claims at the local level about the content of their international interests, including interests in international law, and how they related to the correct route towards liberation.

This article thus explores the impact, respectively, of the Treaty of Berlin of 1885, which carved up Africa for European colonial interests, and the United Nations Charter of 1946, which defined a new world order under international law following World War II. The former helped frame issues about Black emigration back to Africa, while the latter framed the continuing essential question of whether African American rights and international outreach are to be grounded only in American law and policy, or will also be strongly grounded under international human rights law.

Keywords: International Law, Treaty Law, African American History, Critical Race Theory, Human Rights, Minority Rights, Domestic reception of treaties, United Nationals Charter, Treaty of Berlin, African American International Tradition, Race

JEL Classification: K19, K30, K33, K39

Suggested Citation

Richardson, Henry J., Two Treaties, and Global Influences of the American Civil Rights Movements, Through the Black International Tradition (2010). Virginia Journal of Social Policy and the Law, Vol. 18, No. 1, 2010, Temple University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2012-06, Available at SSRN:

Henry J. Richardson (Contact Author)

Temple University - James E. Beasley School of Law ( email )

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