Remembering the Battle to Integrate Levittown

by Zachary Solomon   LAST YEAR, George Clooney’s Suburbicon, the sixth film that the actor has directed, bombed at the box office. Suburbicon was a combination of two scripts, one a neglected crime romp penned by Joel and Ethan Coen in the mid-1980s, the other a drama loosely informed by the notorious 1957 documentary, Crisis in Levittown. Suburbicon turned out to […]

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Opposing Segregation in Little Rock, Arkansas

Little Rock, Arkansas began to integrate its public schools on this date in 1959 while segregationists rallied at the State Capitol and then marched to Central High School, where police arrested twenty-one of them. This followed the “Lost Year” of 1958, in which Governor Orval Faubus closed the public schools to avoid federally-ordered school integration; to head off a […]

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Liberated by a Segregated Battalion

The U.S. Army’s 522nd Field Artillery Battalion, a segregated unit of Japanese Americans and Japanese Hawaiians, liberated 3,000 prisoners, most of them Jews, in the Kaufering Lager IV, a slave-labor camp that was a satellite of Dachau, on this date in 1945. “While the 522nd FAB covered 1,100 miles in their movement through Germany,” notes […]

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February 1: The First Black Secretary of State

Francis Lewis Cardozo, the son of a free black woman and a Sephardic Jewish father who became the first African American in history to hold statewide office when he became South Carolina’s secretary of state in 1868, was born in Charleston on this date in 1836. Cardozo’s parents were forbidden by law to marry but […]

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May 18: The Liberal Republican

Jacob Javits, the last staunchly liberal Republican senator — he became a Republican in reaction to the corrupt Democratic politics of Tammany Hall — was born to pushcart peddlers on the Lower East Side on this date in 1904. Javits earned a degree in Columbia University night school, and a law degree from NYU in […]

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November 18: Rabbi Ganef

Yona Metzger, then Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi of Israel, was arrested on this date in 2013 on numerous counts of bribery, fraud, and money laundering. Metzger held the influential position from 2003 to 2013; the main witness against him was his driver, who was paid 10 percent nearly $2.6 million in illegal proceeds. Metzger had already […]

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Racial Equality Is Still a “Dream”

by Allan Lichtenstein The Negro today is not struggling for some abstract, vague rights, but for concrete and prompt improvement in his way of life. What will it profit him to be able to send his children to an integrated school if the family income is insufficient to buy them school clothes? What will he […]

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Granz & Gillespie – A Duo for Democracy

by Gary Ferdman THIS NOVEMBER MARKS the 50th anniversary of the presidential campaign of a candidate who was an advocate for nuclear arms control and an unwavering and outspoken supporter of civil rights even at the risk of his career. Master politician Lyndon Johnson? Nope. Try master musician John Birks (Dizzy) Gillespie, who would have […]

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October 11: Eleanor Roosevelt and the Jews

Eleanor Roosevelt, First Lady of the U.S. from 1933 to 1945 and a progressive activist throughout the 1940s and ’50s, was born in New York on this date in 1884. She shared her patrician class’s low-grade anti-Semitism during her younger days, but by 1935, according to her biographer, Blanche Wiesen Cook, “she spoke out against […]

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