FEBRUARY: BLACK HISTORY MONTH ( diverse history of black colleges)

February 22nd, 2018 by Goshen Public Library Leave a reply »

While Jewish & African American communities have a tumultuous shared history when it comes to the pursuit of civil rights, there is a chapter that is often overlooked.  In the 1930s when the Jewish academics from Germany & Austria were dismissed from their teaching positions, many came to the United States looking for jobs.  Due to the Depression, xenophobia & rising anti-Semetism, many found it difficult to find work, but more than 50 found positions at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in the segregated South.

Originally established to educate freed slaves to read & write, the first of the HBCUs was Cheyney University in Pennsylvania, established in 1837.  By the time Jewish professors arrived, the number of HBCUs had grown to 78.  At a time when both Jews & Blacks were persecuted, Jewish professors in the Black colleges found the environment comfortable & accepting, often creating special programs to provide opportunities to engage Blacks & whites in meaningful conversation, often for the first time.

In the years that followed, the interests of Jewish & Black communities increasingly diverged, but the once-shared experience of discrimination & interracial cooperation remains a key part of the Civil Rights Movement.

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