June Finer. Vicki Gabriner. Anyone? Let's Not Forget!
On January 21, the Forward published an article about how Obama's presidency is renewing Jewish activists' memories of the civil rights movement, offering personal vindication for some of the central experiences in these Jewish activists' lives. The article draws attention to the disproportionate number of Jews who "threw themselves into work for civil rights as organizers, lawyers, marchers, journalists, and in other ways." It continues by profiling several of these activists, every one of whom in the article is male.
Um, hello?! Is the Forward wearing blinders? Has it forgotten that a *huge* proportion of Jews who were involved in the civil rights movement are women? Do the names Barbara Jacob Haber, Dottie Zellner, or Jan Goodman ring a bell? How about Trudy Orris, Harriet Tanzman, June Finer, or Carol Ruth Silver?
In (belated) commemoration of MLK Day, in celebration of Barack Obama's inauguration, and in anticipation of Black History Month, the Jewish Women's Archive is featuring reflections from civil rights activist, Vicki Gabriner - a JWA Women Who Dared honoree - as its podcast of the month. I'm struck by Gabriner's recollection of both the risks and intensity of her work in the rural American South. Even more, I am inspired by her feeling of being "held in a national energy" that was so palpable, so urgent, and so defined by collective struggle. I don't think I've ever felt the sense of connection or urgency in my own activist efforts to the degree to which Gabriner describes.