Based mostly on primary sources archived in China as well as the United States, this paper examines the dynamic interaction between Williams and the Chinese Communist leaders in the 1960s. Williams’ visits to China, this paper argues, not only led to a transnational alliance that helped reinforce violent rebellions in both nations, but also exposed the black activist to the implosion caused by the Cultural Revolution in the Communist country that made him more aware of his disagreement with the Chinese Communist leaders on class struggle, more appreciative of the progress made in civil rights struggle through peaceful reforms, and more confident in American political system based on the Constitution. Marking the failure of Beijing’s effort to integrate the civil rights movement into the world revolution led by Mao, the transition of Robert Williams from an ardent promoter for armed revolution to a non-violence activist demonstrated the diversity and complexity of the U.S.-China relations in the 1960s.
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