Graduation Date


Document Type

Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Department or Program Chair

Jordan Lieser, PhD

First Reader

Jordan Lieser, PhD


The Declaration of Independence famously states, “We hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal.” These words quintessentially set the course for the American ideal of democracy; yet, debate as to who was and was not included in this ‘equality’ has clouded this American ideal. This debate sparked international concerns at the end of World War II; specifically the Soviet Union, which questioned the validity of democracy in the United States. As the United States entered the Cold War against the Soviet Union, both ideologically and physically across the globe, the Civil Rights Movement gained increased popularity, domestically with grassroots organization calling for equality in their democratic government. Up until Lyndon Johnson’s presidency in the 1960s, the United States government treated the Cold War and Civil Rights Movement as issues requiring separate actions with the Cold War taking precedent. President Johnson, known for his focus on domestic action, saw these two issues, not as separate, but rather two sides of the same coin. Through his ability to merge the Cold War and Civil Rights Movement together, Johnson held the key to legislative success seen in the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s as opposed to any other period in civil rights history. This argument relies heavily on methodology focused on primary resources from President Johnson’s administration including speeches, meetings with Civil Rights leaders, and executive orders made. In addition, this argument relies heavily on comparisons between Cold War presidents to President Johnson and their engagement with the Civil Rights Movement as well as increased actions amongst grassroots organizations to support their cause for equality in the United States.