Tag Archives: Civil Rights Movement

The Legacy of the Civil Rights Movement

Originally published on the blog of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.

On the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, I’ve been reflecting a great deal on the power and possibility of social change. The climactic moment on August 28, 1963 came when Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his quintessential “I Have a Dream” speech, which crystalized decades of tireless activism and ignited decades more. But a lesser-known speech delivered by Rabbi Yoachim Prinz—the President of the American Jewish Congress, who took the podium immediately before King—was stirring in a different way.

Prinz understood the plight of African Americans and other disenfranchised groups in the context of his own experience as the rabbi of a Jewish community in Berlin during Hitler’s regime. He devoted much of his life in the United States to the civil rights movement. And, in his speech at the March on Washington, he articulated a message that has always resonated with me: “Bigotry and hatred are not the most urgent problem. The most urgent, the most disgraceful, the most shameful and the most tragic problem is silence.”

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Movements and Shakers

Originally posted on Pursue: Action for a Just World.

In his recent piece on the Huffington Post, Max Klau of City Year (and former AJWS group leader) writes that “causes of justice and equality have always been advanced through the collective efforts of vast numbers of civic leaders working together for change.” He highlights one person in particular: Bayard Rustin, the man behind the hundreds of thousands of people who made it to the National Mall for Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Without the crowd—and the organizers that got them there—the speech would not have had nearly as great an impact as it did, nor would the struggle for civil rights have been nearly as successful. Read More »

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