The 20th-century prophet Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on this date in 1968 at age 39. Among white Americans participating in the movement that Dr. King led, Jews played a brave and disproportionate role. More than a third of the young white Northerners who participated in the Freedom Summer of 1964 were Jewish, and numerous rabbis and Jewish community leaders participated and were arrested in desegregation efforts in Florida, Maryland, Alabama and other states. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 were written at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism in Washington, D.C., and Jewish philanthropists played a critical role in supporting the organizers of the movement. For more about Jews in the struggle for civil rights, see Jewdayo for February 12th.
“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.” --Martin Luther King, Jr.
Lawrence Bush edited Jewish Currents from 2003 until 2018. He is the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His new volume of illustrated Torah commentaries, American Torah Toons 2, is scheduled for publication this year.