Sing a New Song: Jews, Music, and the Civil Rights Movement
In the 1960s, American Jews made up a large percentage of those white Americans who participated in the Civil Rights Movement. Many of them were motivated by liberal American values, Jewish values, and a belief that they understood the African American experience. At rallies, sit-ins, and marches they stood shoulder to shoulder with African Americans, and they were strengthened by the same freedom songs. This Go & Learn guide uses the letter of a Jewish civil rights activist and several freedom songs to explore how this music, based in African American church music, was able to cross racial and religious boundaries and build community.
- American Jews made up a large percentage of those white Americans who participated in the Civil Rights Movement.
- Music has the power to unite people of diverse backgrounds.
- What motivated Jews to participate in the Civil Rights movement?
- Who was Heather Tobis Booth and what role did she play in the Civil Rights movement?
Notes to Teacher
We have provided lyrics for each of the songs included in this lesson in the “Document Studies” section. We recommend using YouTube or iTunes to access audio recordings.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Sing a New Song: Jews, Music, and the Civil Rights Movement." (Viewed on April 14, 2021) <https://jwa.org/teach/golearn/apr10>.