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09/06/2023 09:39:11 AM


Aileen Grossberg

Anniversaries are something to look forward to with joy, sadness, appreciation, or awe.

On August 29th, we marked the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington  for Jobs and Freedom organized by Martin Luther King, Jr. and the SCLC, a group of ministers and related individuals fighting for civil rights.

It behooves us to remember this event as Americans, as right-minded people and as human beings. The struggle for civil rights.

In the last few years important documents relating to the struggle for civil rights and the abolishment of legal segregation have been opened.

For those interested in American history, the following 2023 books are critical:

Eig, Jonathan, King: A Life. This thoroughly documented book will tell you all you want to know about MLK, Jr. and more. This is no hagiography: you may even end up not liking King much. But it shows the struggles that King had both as a man and a leader and the forces that he fought against from within himself and from the United States government primarily in the form of J .Edgar Hoover. There is a section of photos.

Kix, Paul, You Have to be Prepared to Die Before You Can Begin to Live: Ten Weeks in Birmingham That Changed America. Kix takes the reader day by day, person by person, sometimes hour by hour through the planning for the demonstration in Birmingham that was meant to revive the SCLC’s work for civil rights. Momentum had stalled; fewer people were volunteering for non-violent protests. Montgomery changed that with the controversial decision to allow children, some as young as ten, to march through the streets of the infamous Bull Connor’s city. This book reads like a suspense novel and will draw the reader in to the uncertainty of the situation. The ultimate success in Montgomery set the stage for the August 28, 1963 March on Washington.

Older books in the library’s collection give a historical perspective on the relationships between African-Americans and Jews (before most classified documents were released):

Yasner, Deanie:  Essie Rosie’s Revelation Summer. In this chapter book, it’s 1953. Ten year-old Essie Rose Ginsburg lives in a small Mississippi town where she faces not only the challenges of growing up but also the results of challenging the rules of segregation. Based on the author’s experience. (2019)

Deutsch, Staci: Hot Pursuit: Murder in Mississippi. Simple retelling of the events that led to the murder of three young civil rights workers -- two of whom where white Jews -- in the summer of 1964.  (2010)

Schneier, Marc:  Shared Dreams: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Jewish Community. Describes the range of attitudes of the Jewish community towards the civil rights movement and King’s attitude toward Jews and Israel. (1999)

Forman, Seth: Blacks in the Jewish Mind: a Crisis of Liberalism. Looks at the contentious relationship between African-Americans and Jews and what motivated Jewish involvement in the civil rights movement. (1998)

Lerner, Michael: Jews and Blacks: Let the Healing Begin. With Cornel West, Lerner discusses the issues that African-Americans and Jews shared and that now divide them. (1995)

Berman, Paul, ed.  Blacks and Jews: Alliances and Arguments. An anthology of articles describing the feud between  African-Americans and Jews and considering what the future holds (1994)

Mon, April 15 2024 7 Nisan 5784