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Museum of Jewish Heritage: Swastika & Jim Crow

It’s always been my experience that behind every anti-Semite lurks a racist. It was an historical caution that Bill Tatum often discussed when I served on the Editorial Board of the NY Amsterdam News. Unfortunately we know that racists and anti-Semites come in all colors…even black.

So I wasn’t at all surprised to see that one of the media sponsors of The Museum of Jewish Heritage’s exhibition of “Beyond Swastika and Jim Crow: Jewish Refugee Scholars At Black Colleges” is America’s legendary Black newspaper, the New York Amsterdam News.

I’m positive that the late Bill Tatum publisher and editor of the Amsterdam News, and now his daughter, Elinor Tatum were intrigued by the irony of “Beyond Swastika and Jim Crow.” It’s the story of a group of Historically Black Colleges who hired Jewish professors who were refugees from Europe’s Nazi terror during WWII.

The Museum of Jewish Heritage describes its exhibition:

“…A few dozen refugee scholars unexpectedly found positions in historically black colleges in the American South. There, as recent escapees from persecution in Nazi Germany, they came face to face with the absurdities of a rigidly segregated Jim Crow society. In their new positions, they met, taught, and interacted with students who had grown up in, and struggled with, this racist environment.

Beyond Swastika and Jim Crow explores the unlikely coming together of these two groups, each the object of exclusion and hatred, and examines the ongoing encounter between them as they navigated the challenges of life in the segregated South.”

The exhibition includes a film of the same name. If you don’t live in the New York area, you can read a description of the film that will be presented at the Museum. It's described at the PBS website below.

Some of the Black Colleges who employed Jewish professors were:

Dillard University
Philander Smith College
Lincoln University
Morehouse College
Fisk University
Hampton University
North Carolina Central
Spelman College
Talladega College
Tougaloo College
Tuskegee Institute
Wilberforce University

Please click on the main link below to view The of Jewish Heritage Museum’s extraordinary and moving on-line presentation. It adds a very important chapter to African American history and its Historically Black Colleges.

The Museum of Jewish Heritage exhibition of “Beyond Swastika and Jim Crow: Jewish Refugee Scholars At Black Colleges” begins May 1, 2009 to January 4, 2010.

Enjoy and be proud of the colleges that hired these Jewish scholars. Two of their students were Dr. Joyce Ladner, President of Howard University and artist John Biggers. The Museum’s “Artifacts” section documents their student experience.

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Museum of Jewish Heritage: Swastika & Jim Crow
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18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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