Growing tensions II: Affirmative Action
Assess Jewish attitudes towards Affirmative Action as an example of how individuals and communities try to manage competing priorities.
- By the end of the 1960s and into the following decades, the activists, organizations, and communities that had been part of the Civil Rights Movement had many different and sometimes conflicting ideas regarding the next priorities for securing African American civil rights and for the Movement as a whole.
- Within the Jewish community, opinion was (and remains) divided on policies of Affirmative Action and its implications for Jews and for African Americans.
- How did responses to affirmative action raise tensions between and within the African American and Jewish communities?
- In the decades after the Civil Rights Movement, what changed in Jewish and African American feelings about their respective relationships to civil rights?
- How do Jewish responses to affirmative action reflect some of the conflicting priorities found within the Jewish community?
- How, if at all, does Black-Jewish conflict and the controversy around affirmative action relate to our experiences today?
- Medium sized post-it notes in 4 different colors
- Document Studies (each of the two documents is examined by a different group)
Notes to Teacher
The current version of this lesson plan offers two examples of Jewish organizations that were critical of affirmative action. Other Jewish organizations were more supportive of affirmative action. JWA will be adding a document offering this point of view in a future version of this lesson plan.
Jews and Affirmative Action/Preferences
Jerome A. Chanes. "Jews and Affirmative Action/Preferences." Encyclopedia of Jewish History, Volume 1. Stephen Harlan Norwood and Eunice G. Pollack, Ed. Santa Barbara: ABC Clio, 2008. pp. 432-435. Available online (Search for "Affirmative Action")
DeFunis v. Odegaard: Another Kind of 'Jewish Problem'
Sharae Wheeler, "DeFunis v. Odegaard: Another Kind of 'Jewish Problem,'" 2008. Published on the Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History Project website.
Wheeler's analysis of the DeFunis case, in the form of a research report written while she was an undergraduate at the University of Washington, also features digital copies of documents related to the case, including the NAACP Amicus Brief and a series of news articles from the University of Washington Daily.
Articles on affirmative action cases in Jewish publications
Articles that appeared in Jewish publications in relation to more recent affirmative action court cases:
- "Don't Let Affirmative Action Fade: Why Jews should care about what's happening in Louisville," Jewish Journal, August 17, 2006.
- Eli Kintisch, "With affirmative action again an issue, Jews temper views," Jewish Telegraphic Agency, January 31, 2003. Accessed via the website of j. the Jewish news weekly of Northern California. http://www.jweekly.com/article/full/19226/with-affirmative-action-again-an-issue-jews-temper-views/
Broken Alliance: The Turbulent Times between Blacks and Jews in America
Kaufman, Jonathan. Broken Alliance: The Turbulent Times between Blacks and Jews in America. New York: Penguin Books, 1988.
A Different Kind of Freedom Ride: American Jews and the Struggle for Racial Equality, 1964-1975
Dollinger, Marc. "A Different Kind of Freedom Ride: American Jews and the Struggle for Racial Equality, 1964-1975," (Chapter 8), Quest for Inclusion: Jews and Liberalism in Modern America. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Growing tensions II: Affirmative Action." (Viewed on August 10, 2022) <https://jwa.org/teach/livingthelegacy/civilrights/growing-tensions-ii-affirmative-action>.