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Mississippi Freedom Summer: Voices of the Volunteers

1. Heather Booth If we organize, we can change the world. I learned this lesson powerfully from my experience with the Mississippi Summer Project in 1964. I was 18, a white Chicago student, joining with others to shine a spotlight on the conditions in Mississippi and the horrors of America’s apartheid system. I went to […]

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Black Liberation and Jewish Identity

From the Spring 2014 issue of Jewish Currents The exploitation and oppression of African Americans have been defining features of our country’s history since the first black slaves were hauled ashore in the Virginia colony in 1619. Black servitude was a keystone of our country’s wealth for more than two centuries, and underpaid black labor […]

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February 9: Alice Walker and Mel Leventhal

Alice Walker, whose many accomplishments include a Pulitzer Prize for her novel, The Color Purple (1982), was born in a sharecropping family in Georgia on this date in 1944. In 1967, Walker married the activist Jewish civil rights attorney Mel Leventhal, with whom she lived in Jackson, Mississippi. They were very possibly the first legally […]

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February 4: Evan Wolfson and Freedom to Marry

Evan Wolfson, founder and executive director of Freedom to Marry, a leading same-sex marriage advocacy group, was born in Brooklyn on this date in 1957. A graduate of Harvard Law, Wolfson worked for Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund and became a legal expert of the same-sex marriage movement. He co-wrote an amicus brief in […]

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Pete Seeger’s Project

by Dick Flacks Editor’s note: Pete Seeger died at 94 on January 27th, after a short hospitalization. We’re reposting this fine appreciation by our contributing writer Dick Flacks, originally published in Jewish Currents in 2009. When Pete Seeger turned 90 on May 3rd, providing the occasion for a huge celebratory concert in Madison Square Garden […]

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Megaphone: Jacob Bender, a Jew Among American Muslims

Interviewed by Mitchell Abidor From the Winter 2013-2014 issue of Jewish Currents   WHEN JACOB BENDER WAS NAMED the director of the Philadelphia office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in September, he became the first American Jew ever to lead an American Muslim organization. The reaction was enthusiastic in the Muslim community, with […]

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January 7: The Civil Rights Attorney

Civil rights attorney Jack Greenberg was one of twenty-eight Americans awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal by President Bill Clinton on this date in 2001. Greenberg succeeded Thurgood Marshall as director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, a position in which he served from 1961 to 1984, and also founded the Mexican-American Legal Defense […]

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December 31: Civil Union and Civil Divorce

Glen Rosengarten, the founder of Food Emporium Supermarkets, entered into a civil union in Vermont with Peter Downes on this date in 2000 — and then sought to dissolve the union in his home state of Connecticut seven months later. In that case, Rosengarten v. Downes, the state appellate court refused to recognize the civil […]

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December 7: The Civil Rights Judge

Louis Pollak, dean of the Yale and University of Pennsylvania law schools who simultaneously served as an adviser to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, was born in Manhattan on this date in 1922 to progressive parents, his father an attorney for the defense in the “Scottsboro Boys” case. In 1965, Pollak convinced the […]

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Teenage Reflections on Civil Rights and Isaiah 58

A Play by Teens from Beth Emet the Free Synagogue and the Second Baptist Church, Evanston, Illinois. Students from Beth Emet and Second Baptist studied Isaiah 58 together with Minister Brian Smith (Second Baptist) and Elliot Leffler (Beth Emet), and performed this play at Beth Emet on Yom Kippur morning, with the guidance of Leffler […]

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