For further exploration of Jewish identification with African Americans, consider reading to the class the excerpt below from The Provincials: A Personal History of Jews in the South by Eli Evans. (This may fit best prior to doing the Document Study.) Evans grew up in Durham, North Carolina, and in his chapter "The Maids and Black Jesus," Evans reflects on going to black rural churches in the South when he was a teenager. He describes not being bothered by the hymns and spirituals of black churches because they often told stories from the Old Testament, and also describes feeling a connection to African Americans because of his sense of their shared persecution.

"…[I would] listen to an old black preacher sing his sermon—about Moses leading the children of Israel out of slavery, of Joshua and the battle of Jericho, or of Daniel in the lion's den. Negroes…made [the stories in the Old Testament] come alive…To me, Negroes and Jews were joined in a union of persecution and hate; we were both children of history, both celebrating a people in slavery and a yearning for deliverance…

Negroes believed in my hero Moses with more passion than I did, and that drew me to them."*

*Eli N. Evans, The Provincials: A Personal History of Jews in the South (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997. Reprinted University of North Carolina Press, 2005), p. 261.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Optional." (Viewed on September 27, 2021) <https://jwa.org/node/11979>.


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