Transnationalism, Race and Revolution: The Case of Cuba's Radio Free Dixie

Open Access
Mislan, Cristina
Graduate Program:
Mass Communications
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
September 09, 2013
Committee Members:
  • Charles Elavsky, Dissertation Advisor
  • Charles Elavsky, Committee Chair
  • James Ford Risley, Committee Member
  • John Spicer Nichols, Committee Member
  • Solsi Del Moral, Special Member
  • Cuba
  • Radio
  • Race
  • Transnationalism U.S.-Cuba Relations
  • Civil Rights Movement
  • Black Power Movement
During the early 1960s, the Cuban Revolution was creating a new country based on anti-colonial revolutionary principles. Simultaneously, Robert F. Williams and his wife Mabel R. Williams preoccupied themselves with broadcasting Radio Free Dixie, a radio program that aired from Cuba’s Radio Progreso in Havana, Cuba, to spread their messages of anti-imperialism and self-defense to parts of the Jim Crow South and North. This dissertation, therefore, aims to connect the Cuban Revolution to the Black Power Movement in the United States by positioning Radio Free Dixie at the center of a historical moment that intersected the Cold War and black struggle. Such a story is significant because it historicizes previous literature on transnationalism and transnational media and also contributes to recent scholarly conversations that have connected global politics to the United States Civil Rights and Black Power movements of the 1960s. While previous historical studies have briefly discussed the existence of Radio Free Dixie and Robert F. Williams’ relationship with the Cuban government, this literature has mainly overlooked the ways in which Radio Free Dixie’s broadcasts helped frame the debates on race, class, revolution, self-defense, and imperialism using both nationalist and internationalist messages. Such an analysis attempts to underscore how the broadcasters positioned themselves within a Cold War context that explicitly linked the Cuban Revolution to the United States Civil Rights and Black Power Movements, therefore, illustrating how an analysis of alternative media de-centers United States’ national discourses about civil rights struggles. Furthermore, it explores how the concepts of racism, imperialism and socialism were simultaneously integrated and separate on Radio Free Dixie.