GOING SOUTH: Jewish Women in the Civil Rights Movement

Debra L. Schultz, Author, Blanche Wiesen Cook, Author, Blanche Weisen Cook, Foreword by GOING SOUTH: Jewish Women in the Civil Rights Movement

When Barbara Jacobs, a Brandeis student, returned to campus after working with black civil rights groups in the South in 1960, she found a limerick in her university mailbox that expressed a common prejudice faced by Jewish women activists, which read in part, "She said, I'm not a whore/ I just do it for CORE/ and color's the same without lights." Blending together 15 oral histories and archival research, Schultz shows how Northern Jewish women's commitment to social justice—informed in part by living in the shadow of the Holocaust—played out in a time of enormous political, social and personal upheaval. There are many, sometimes painful, ironies here: often Northern women discovered that their Southern Jewish relatives, already feeling vulnerable as outsiders, wanted nothing to do with them or the movement; some faced anti-Semitism (both passive and virulent) in Southern black church groups. But Schultz never resorts to easy answers, always trying to find a historical truth that's balanced between fact and empathy. Sharply observant of her informants' lives, Schultz opens a new window not only into the civil rights movement but also into the sociology of mid-century Jewish-American culture. Her analysis is most impressive at the book's end, when she perceptively describes the protean nature of Jewish identities in the U.S. Such insightful cultural readings and criticism make this a fine contribution to both the literature of the civil rights movement and the field of Jewish studies. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 02/19/2001
Release date: 03/01/2001
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 248 pages - 978-0-8147-9775-4
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