Indiana Daily Student

Black Voices: The forgotten friendship between the Jewish and African American communities

Walking into a room with Black and Jewish people, you might wonder, “What could we have in common?” Before this event, I had no prior knowledge that during the civil rights movement, our communities were in fact allies.

A piece of history which has been lost was shared with IU students Wednesday evening, thanks to the Helene G. Simon Hillel Center, IU’s Jewish cultural center. 

The Spill the Honey Foundation came to campus to educate students about the friendship between the two groups. Through a film viewing and a group discussion led by panelists who devoted their careers to this cause, students received a valuable history lesson of the two communities during the ‘60s.

Spill the Honey is an organization dedicated to educating the next generation and having necessary conversations to highlight the importance of the alliance between Jewish and African American communities. To do this, the organization showed the film ‘Shared Legacies.’ 

Written and directed by Shari Rogers, ‘Shared Legacies’ is an inspiring documentary of the crucial history lesson of the Black and Jewish coalition. The film took viewers back to 1909 when this alliance began. Sharing archival footage of events such as the March on Washington and more than 150 hours of interviews from living witnesses and families telling their stories. Members of the King family, Rabbi Alvin Sugarman, Harry Belafonte and other leaders of this movement were featured in the film. 

After the film viewing, panelists Blake Weissman, Morgan Taradash, Wendell Shelby-Wallace and Gabe Ivker further educated attendees about why they are so passionate about this topic.

During the discussion, attendees wondered if Spill the Honey plans to bring this coalition into school systems and implement it into the curriculum. Even with critical race theory banned in some states and some school systems getting rid of books about the Holocaust. 

“(The) majority of learning happens outside of school,” Ivker said.”That’s where I learned about this friendship not by reading books but having conversations like this.”

Hillel plans on continuing this conversation by celebrating Shabbat between IU’s Black community and the Jewish community at 6 pm on Friday at Hillel. IU junior Leilanu Jackson helped plan both events and said she encourages all students to come out. 

“They try to pin us against each other and fight our trauma with each other's trauma, and it’s like what are we even arguing about,” said Jackson. “We want to continue this conversation Friday and continue building these bridges between our community.” 

An African proverb states until the lion learns how to write, every story will glorify the hunter. Many times in history, and today,  the lion has been silenced while the hunter has been able to rewrite the story.

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