Black-Jewish ties make the US better – opinion – The Jerusalem Post

Posted By on January 20, 2021

As a longtime advocate for strengthening the historic Black-Jewish alliance that helped to end segregation and secure voting rights for African-Americans during the 1960s, I am ecstatic to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2021 in the wake of the twin election victories in Georgia by Reverend Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff that states first African-American and first Jewish senators.The ramifications of the against all odds electoral victories for Warnock and Ossoff who ran as a team, proudly touting their Black and Jewish identities are profound, especially in the wake of last weeks insurrection, including the horrific waving of the Confederate flag in the US Capitol. A majority of Georgians let their voices be heard and votes counted by picking two outstanding individuals to represent their state.By winning the two Georgia Senate seats, Warnock and Ossoff put the Democrats in control of the Senate, ensuring that Sen. Kamala Harris, soon to be Americas first female vice president, will be in a position to break a 50-50 tie and enable Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to become the first American Jew to ascend to the position of majority leader of the Senate. The election of Ossoff and Warnock, who is senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, the renowned church where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once preached, will it make possible for the Democratic-controlled 117th Senate to pass legislation, bringing us closer to the fulfillment of Dr. Kings long-delayed dream of an America in which people are judged by the content of their characters rather than the color of their skins.In the early years of the 20th century, Georgia, the so-called Empire State of the South, was a crucible of racism, in which Blacks were stripped of the right to vote and were forced to live in economic deprivation according to codes of strict race separation. From 1877 to 1950, 586 African-American men, women and children were lynched in Georgia, the largest number of any of the 12 southern states, as was one Jew, Leo Frank, lynched in 1915.Over the decades, Black and Jewish leaders, including W.E.B. DuBois, Thurgood Marshall, Jack Greenberg, Bayard Rustin, Stanley Levenson, Andrew Young and John Lewis, built a movement to challenge segregation in Georgia and across the South. Ossoff and Warnock see their own close collaboration in the context of that stirring history. Ossoff, 33, a member of The Temple, the flagship Reform Synagogue in Atlanta that was bombed by White supremacists in 1958, served while still a teenager as an intern for Lewis, a hero of the Civil Rights movement and congressman from the Atlanta area before passing away last year. Ossoff wrote on Twitter: And now a Jewish man (Lewis) mentored and a Black man who was his pastor have been elected to represent the State of Georgia in the US Senate. I know Congressman Lewis is looking down on us today beaming with optimism. For his part, Warnock evoked the close friendship and collaboration between King and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, stating in a video, I think Abraham Joshua Heschel, the rabbi who said when he marched with Dr. King he felt like his legs are praying, I think he and Dr. King are smiling in this moment and we hope to make them proud.The electrifying victories of Warnock and Ossoff, making Schumer, a Jewish-American senator, majority leader, and Harris, a Black woman, the deciding vote in the Senate, represents heartening evidence that the Black-Jewish alliance is alive, well and revitalized in 2021, 60 years after it played such an outsized role in transforming Georgia, the South and all of America.Today, Blacks and Jews stand united to defend democracy and protect civil rights. As the Biden administration begins, our two communities, together with Americans of conscience of all backgrounds, are committed to finally bringing to fulfillment Americas long-deferred founding principle that all human beings, regardless of race, religion, orientation or economic status, have an equal God-given right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

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Black-Jewish ties make the US better - opinion - The Jerusalem Post

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