Julia Ioffe in The Atlantic:
The beginning of the Cold War coincided with the beginning of the civil rights movement, and the two became intertwined—both in how the Soviets used the racial strife, and how the Cold War propelled the cause of civil rights forward. “Early on in the Cold War, there was a recognition that the U.S. couldn’t lead the world if it was seen as repressing people of color,” says Mary Dudziak, a legal historian at Emory, whose book Cold War Civil Rights is the seminal work on the topic. When, in September 1957, the Arkansas governor Orval Faubus deployed the National Guard to keep nine black students from integrating the Central High School in Little Rock, the standoff was covered by newspapers around the world, many of which noted the discrepancy between the values America expressed and hoped to spread around the world, and how it implemented them at home.
The Soviets, again, took full advantage of the opportunity. Komsomolskaya Pravda, the newspaper of the communist youth organization in the USSR, ran a sensational story, complete with photographs, about the conflict under the headline, “Troops Advance Against Children!” Izvestia, the second main Soviet daily, also extensively covered the Little Rock crisis, noting at one point that “right now, behind the facade of the so-called ‘American democracy,’ a tragedy is unfolding which cannot but arouse ire and indignation in the heart of every honest man.”