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Home » The Center for Jewish Ethics » Race, Religion, and American Judaism » Lecture 5: Black Power, Jewish Politics: Reinventing The Alliance in the 1960s

Lecture 5: Black Power, Jewish Politics: Reinventing The Alliance in the 1960s

Professor Dollinger will offer a new understanding of Jewish participation in the civil rights movement of the 1950s, the rise of Black Power in the 1960s, and the Jewish ethnic and religious revival of the 1970s. 


Discussion questions

  1. Professor Dollinger distinguished between history, historiography (how history is written) and memory. According to his account, how does collective memory about the rise of Black Power diverge from the historical record? Can you think of other examples where history and memory diverge? How do you understand the role of historians in relation to collective memory?
  2. Professor Dollinger described his surprise at finding examples of Jewish support for Black power and Black leadership well before the Sixties. How do these historical precedents change your understanding of Black Power?
  3. In the Q and A, Professor Dollinger recounted how he came to recognize his error in neglecting to examine the experiences of Black Jews in his research. How does centering on Black Jews change the story of American Jewish politics?
  4. Professor Dollinger lists three common explanations for why White Jews have supported civil rights: 1) Because of a sense of a shared history of oppression. 2) Because of a common interest in overcoming social marginalization. 3) Because of Jewish teachings and values about justice. Professor Dollinger challenges all three explanations. Do you see any merit in them? What do you see as the strongest foundation for solidarity in today’s movements against racism?

Marc Dollinger
Marc Dollinger

Dr. Marc Dollinger holds the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Endowed Chair in Jewish Studies and Social Responsibility at San Francisco State University. Professor Dollinger is author of four scholarly books in American Jewish history, most recently Black Power, Jewish Politics: Reinventing The Alliance in the 1960s. He has published entries in the Encyclopedia Judaica, the Encyclopedia of Antisemitism, and the Encyclopedia of African American Education. His next project traces his own experience fighting campus anti-Semitism at both right-wing and left-wing universities. Professor Dollinger has spoken about his research on Don Lemon’s CNN-podcast “Silence Is Not An Option,” as well as the NFL Network and ESPN. Just for fun, Dr. Dollinger helped actress Helen Hunt learn about her Jewish roots on the prime-time NBC show, “Who Do You Think You Are?” 

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