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Lou Charloff: Sweet Land of Bigotry

by Lou Charloff My return home from the army after World War II was not completely free of unpleasantness.  For one thing, I learned that shoeshine boys had raised their price from ten cents to a quarter.  Was this why we had fought against the evils of fascism?

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March 25: The Scottsboro Boys

Today is also the date on which the “Scottsboro Boys” were arrested in Alabama in 1931. They were nine black teenagers, riding a freight train, who were accused of raping two white women and were rushed through a classically racist Southern trial in which all but one were convicted and sentenced to death. The NAACP […]

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March 19: Summoned by Dr. King

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel received a telegram from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on this date in 1965, inviting him to participate in the third Selma-to-Montgomery march for civil rights two days hence. The first march, on March 7, had met with murderous police violence; the second, on the 9th, had backed down from a […]

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February 1: The Slavery Debate

Rabbi Morris Raphall, leader of B’nai Jeshurun in New York, became the first Jewish clergyman to open a session of the U.S. House of Representatives with prayer on this date in 1860, on the eve of the Civil War. On January 4th of the following year, however, Raphall published an essay in the New York […]

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Footprints: The Black-Jewish Connection

Jewish Currents Has Always Cultivated Solidarity between Blacks and Jews. Is that Bond Still Vital and Real? by Lawrence Bush This article is one of a series reflecting on the history of Jewish Currents on the occasion of our 65th anniversary. You can find the other entries here. JEWISH CURRENTS HAS ALWAYS capitalized “Black” in […]

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January 15: Dr. King’s Advisor

Among the key advisors and closest friends to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (who was born on this date in 1929) was Stanley David Levison, a businessman and attorney whose Communist activities in the 1950s provided J. Edgar Hoover with ample excuse to wiretap and harass Dr. King. Levison, writes Samuel Freedman, served as King’s […]

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January 1: The Emancipation Proclamation

President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation was sent out from the White House telegraph office on this date in 1863 by Edward Rosewater, a Jewish telegrapher. The Proclamation freed 3.1 million of the country’s four million slaves, leaving in chains hundreds of thousands of African-Americans in several border states that had not seceded. The freedom Lincoln […]

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November 21: “The Brains of the Confederacy”

Judah P. Benjamin was appointed Secretary of War of the Confederacy on this date in 1861. Benjamin was a plantation owner, slaveholder and attorney who had served as U.S. senator from Louisiana (the second Jewish senator in history) and had twice declined appointment to the Supreme Court. Republican Senator Benjamin Wade referred to him as […]

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Franz Boas and the Progressive Spirit

How the “Father of Anthropology” Fought Social Darwinism by Alan McGowan When Franz Uri Boas (1858-1942) emigrated to the United States from Germany in 1886, Social Darwinism was at its peak and anthropology was largely a racist discipline devoted to sanctioning colonialism. “Experts” portrayed European civilization and its peoples as superior to all others, and […]

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September 30: Joachim Prinz

Rabbi Joachim Prinz, an anti-Nazi activist in Germany and a civil rights activist in the United States, died on this date in 1988. Prinz spoke at the 1963 March on Washington immediately before Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and declared that “the most urgent, the most disgraceful, the most shameful and the most tragic problem […]

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