Himalaya: Listen. Learn. Grow.
Chatting with Rabbi Mike
African Americans & American Jews have interacted throughout much of the history of the United States. This relationship has included widely publicized cooperation & conflict. Cooperation during the African-American Civil Rights Movement (1954–68) was strategic & significant, culminating in the Civil Rights Act of 1964. But the relationship has also been marred by conflict & controversy related to such topics as the role of a small number of American Jews, among a large number of other Americans & others, in the Atlantic slave trade.The summer of 1964 was designated the Freedom Summer, & many northern Jews traveled south to participate in a concentrated voter registration effort. Two Jewish activists, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, & 1 black activist, James Chaney, were murdered by the Ku Klux Klan near Philadelphia, Mississippi, as a result of their participation. Their deaths were considered martyrdom by some, & temporarily strengthened black-Jewish relations.Martin Luther King, Jr., said in 1965, How could there be anti-Semitism among Negroes when our Jewish friends have demonstrated their commitment to the principle of tolerance & brotherhood not only in the form of sizable contributions, but in many other tangible ways, & often at great personal sacrifice. Can we ever express our appreciation to the rabbis who chose to give moral witness with us in St. Augustine during our recent protest against segregation in that unhappy city? Need I remind anyone of the awful beating suffered by Rabbi Arthur Lelyveld of Cleveland when he joined the civil rights workers there in Hattiesburg, Mississippi? Who can ever forget the sacrifice of 2 Jewish lives, Andrew Goodman & Michael Schwerner, in the swamps of Mississippi? It would be impossible to record the contribution that the Jewish people have made toward the Negro's struggle for freedom—it has been so great.