Empathy or Complicity? Southern Jews and Black Civil Rights
Hosted By: Haberman Institute
The history of Jews in the American South is distinguished in part by the region’s particular history of anti-Black racism and segregation, but southern Jews’ varied responses to systems of segregation, discrimination, and exploitation defy easy characterization. Both scholarly histories and popular memory often portray southern Jews as empathetic toward African Americans but constrained by their vulnerable status as a tiny minority whose livelihoods and safety would have been threatened by overt resistance to white supremacy. At the same time, however, some southern Jews actively and publicly defended the practice of segregation, others questioned the aims and tactics of civil rights activists, and nearly all Jews in the South benefited from having white status in a racially stratified economic and social system.
In this talk, Dr. Josh Parshall will examine the long, complex, and sometimes contradictory history of southern Jews’ actions and inactions in response to the problems of white supremacy and Black civil rights.
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