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Thesis or dissertation

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This paper was part of the 2014-2015 Penn Humanities Forum on Color. Find out more at


Existing works on southern Jewry illustrate how most southern Jews were concerned with self-preservation during the Civil Rights Movement. Many historians have untangled perceptions of southern Jewish detachment from civil rights issues to explain how individuals and communities were torn between their sympathy towards the African- American plight and Jewish vulnerability during a period of heightened racial tension. This project draws connections among the American Civil Rights Movement, the southern Jewish experience, and Atlanta race relations in order to identify instances of southern Jewish involvement in the fight for racial equality. What were the forms of activism Jews chose, the circumstances that shaped those decisions, and the underlying goals behind them? Studying Atlanta’s Jewish communities during the 1950s and 1960s helps broaden the conversation on Jewish activism, raise questions of southern Jewish identity, and uncover distinctive avenues for change. Analysis suggests that, although their story is less known, Jewish organizations and individuals in Atlanta found ways to contribute to the fight for civil rights equality within the context of the Jim Crow South.


Civil Rights Movement, Atlanta



Date Posted: 18 November 2016