In Focus: Jewish Women in Civil Rights
Since 1976, the United States and Canada have celebrated Black History Month every February. The Jewish Women's Archive marks Black History Month by sharing the stories of Jewish women actively committed to civil rights during a pivotal chapter in the movement's history. Featured here are 16 extraordinary women who dedicated themselves to fighting for civil rights. Read moving firsthand accounts by these inspiring women about the life changing events of the Civil Rights Movement.
To learn more about each woman's contributions, read the brief biographical sketch that follows her interview. For more stories of Jewish women and men involved in the Civil Rights Movement, see JWA's Living the Legacy social justice curriculum.
The years 1960–1966 were the height of the Civil Rights Movement. It is well documented that during this time Jews comprised a large proportion of the white volunteers who went south to participate in the fight for civil rights. Histories of the movement have paid little attention to the contributions of Jewish women who worked as organizers, Freedom Riders, teachers, reporters, voter registration workers, fundraisers, lawyers, doctors, and political strategists. The courage these women showed helped change the course of American history.
An exception is Going South: Jewish Women in the Civil Rights Movement, by Debra L. Schultz. She uses oral histories, interviews, and archival research to create a complex portrait of Jewish women in the Civil Rights Movement.