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Cummings, Richard H:

The Crusade for Freedom, 1950-1960: Winning the Battle for America’s Hearts and Minds in the Struggle Against Communism

Beginning in the late 1940s, a group of Americans, unified in their commitment to defeat Communism, set forth to change the country’s political landscape at the grass-roots level. Their dedicated efforts resulted in the Crusade for Freedom, which effectively lasted from 1950 to 1960.

The annual Crusade for Freedom was a successful decade-long public relations and mass-media advertising campaign, that was designed not only to arouse and unite the American public against the threat of Communism, but also to morally, politically, and publicly support activities surrounding Radio Free Europe (RFE) broadcasting from Western Europe to countries behind the Iron Curtain—a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) covert operation.

Millions of Americans throughout the United States willingly and enthusiastically signed “Freedom Scrolls” and “Freedom Grams,“ participated in fund-raising dinners and lunches, attended local Crusader meetings, marched in parades, launched balloons with information leaflets, participated in writing contests, bowled in local tournaments, lit bonfires, and otherwise were active in their belief that they were individually and collectively supporting Radio Free Europe in the battle against Communism Aggression.

The dynamic combination of Radio Free Europe and the Crusade for Freedom was a powerful early cold-war change management tool of the US political elite to win over the hearts and minds of Americans. This mobilization was a successful evolutionary process involving the government, private industry, mass media, the entertainment world, academia, and, lastly, Americans themselves. The Crusade for Freedom gave the majority of Americans what they wanted: a feeling of belonging to and contributing to what they saw as a justified national cause.

Thursday 29 Oct 11.15-12.45 SESSION 1
Panel: On the Airways: Media in the Cold War