As the United States led the march to institutionalise human rights as a global standard of moral legitimacy in late 1940s, the country's grisly record of racial oppression and violence invited foreign and domestic criticism alike. Media coverage of U.S. racial practices impaired the country’s ability to sell democracy to the nonaligned Third World, hindering its Cold War containment strategy, and making civil rights reform an issue of national security. As such, President Harry S. Truman and his administration, invoking language of freedom and equality, brought civil rights to the forefront of the national agenda. Through Executive Orders and Amicus Curiae briefs in key civil rights cases, the Truman Administration symbolically flagged race discrimination as something in staunch contradiction with American democratic principles. Though Truman's steps towards racial equality were more symbolic than substantive, he set a precedent for federal engagement with domestic civil rights, and delineated a policy of reform that would continue throughout the twentieth century.