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Social activist Henry Moscowitz was one of a small committee who launched the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) with a call to action on this day in 1909, the centennial of Abraham Lincoln’s birth. Among the signatories were Jane Addams, WEB Dubois, John Dewey, Rabbi Emil G. Hirsch, Julius Rosenwald, Lincoln Steffens, Rabbi Stephen Wise, Lillian Wald, Ida Wells-Barnett, and dozens more prominent Americans. The following year, Dubois, the only African-American on the executive board, founded The Crisis (which is still published by the NAACP today). Founded in an atmosphere of legal segregation, widespread lynching, and a Ku Klux Klan membership that topped four million, the NAACP was a critical force throughout the 20th century in rallying anti-racist consciousness and forcing the courts to apply the Constitution to remedy the oppression of Black Americans and other minority peoples.Jews were prominent among the leaders and funders of the organization for decades.
“In recognizing the humanity of our fellow beings, we pay ourselves the highest tribute.” —Thurgood Marshall
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.