The ADORE (A Dialogue On Race and Ethnicity) group meet via Zoom on March 27th, 11:30am-2:00pm Hawai’I Time following the church service. Now that we have posted a newly revised Black Lives Matter banner in front of our church building on the Pali Hwy, one which includes the statement, “we oppose antisemitism,” it seems timely to learn a bit about the history of Black Americans and Jewish Americans working together for social justice reform in America.
We viewed and discussed writer/director Aviva Kempner’s inspiring 100-minute film documentary, Rosenwald, which will take us back a century to the era of extremely restrictive Jim Crow laws and culture. This film beautifully portrays the little-known cooperative efforts of Jewish American philanthropist Julius Rosenwald, who was the CEO of Sears, and African American educator Booker T. Washington, author, orator, and adviser to several U.S. presidents. Among the many civil rights endeavors Rosenwald and Washington collaborated on were the creation of over 5,000 schools for African American children in the South and the establishment of a generous fund for grants to be given to African American artists, writers, intellectuals, historians and others. Four notable graduates of Rosenwald schools are author and poet Maya Angelou, Congressman John Lewis, journalist Eugene Robinson, and playwright George Wolfe. The Rosenwald Fund recipients included giants such as James Baldwin, W.E.B. DuBois, Ralph Ellison, Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes, Augusta Savage, Jacob Lawrence, Ralph Bunche, Marian Anderson, Gordon Parks, Dr. Charles Drew, and the Tuskegee Airmen. The influence of these Black community leaders has had untold positive reverberating influence up until the present. Julius Rosenwald was deeply inspired by the Jewish tenets, tikkun olam (repair the world) and tzedakah (righteousness, fairness, justice, charity) as well as Booker T. Washington’s writings and philosophy.