Exhibit: Women Who Dared
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Margaret Lazarus
Social Activist Filmmaker

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What Else She Said

My dad was a member of the Young Socialists in college and my parents were very active in the [teacher's] union. And they were also very active in progressive - what we now term anti-racist - work...

I remember my dad was in study groups. He was part of a huge project that took all the readers in schools and they were trying to show their white bias. I remember as a little kid helping him make sample 'Dick and Jane' books in which we changed the backgrounds from Middletown, USA to urban apartment buildings and changed the color of Dick and Jane by painting their skin in brown and their hair in black and changing some of the words' And my dad was in a lot of study groups where bunches of people were studying to take the civil service exams for progress in the school system - you had to take an exam to be an assistant principal and to be a principal - and the study groups were filled with African Americans and Puerto Ricans and it was a very important part to share these study skills so that everyone was progressive.

All of that came to a crashing halt during the Ocean Hill-Brownsville strikes around community control, which pitted the unions against the communities in terms of seniority. And they were very ardent union supporters' So a lot of the progressive social environment in terms of their anti-racist education really ended then and that was a tragedy and also indicated a lack of depth of commitment to anti-racist work...

[The Ocean Hill-Brownsville strike] had an enormous impact on me. I'm still figuring all that out now... It relates to their form of Judaism, which was not particularly Temple-based. It was certainly not based in prayer and worship. It was very much based in social justice and some of the Jewish philosophers - Buber and other great social thinkers - and the emphasis on you are your deeds and your job as a human being is to make the world a better place. That was very much the impetus of their Judaism and just their whole liberal, progressive, urban perspective. And that strike was very interesting to me because I saw that at some levels, the nature of that commitment and where it got challenged.


How to Cite This Page
For a bibliography: Jewish Women's Archive. "Jewish Women's Archive - Women Who Dared - Margaret Lazarus on FAMILY UPBRINGING." <http://jwa.org/exhibits/wwd/jsp/fullAnswer.jsp>.

For a footnote: Jewish Women's Archive, "Jewish Women's Archive - Women Who Dared - Margaret Lazarus on FAMILY UPBRINGING," <http://jwa.org/exhibits/wwd/jsp/fullAnswer.jsp>.