African American and Jewish Dialogue

In an effort to continually present diverse programming that will inform, educate and inspire cultural bonding, the WV Center for African-American Art & Culture, Inc. which is a non-profit organization located in Charleston, WV, is collaborating with The Social Action Committee of Temple Israel in Charleston, The National Center for Human Relations at West Virginia State College, and University of Charleston in a culturally educational initiative. Inspired by an exhibit called Bridges and Boundaries Revisited: African Americans and American Jews, which was a thought provoking exhibition organized by the Jewish Museum in New York City. This exhibition explored the relationship between two rich and diverse cultures in our country. In Atlanta Georgia, from August to October 2001, the NAACP sponsored a series of lectures and seminars centered on this relationship, specific site tours, and implementation of a number of programs with an incredible display of cultural artifacts and personal memorabilia highlighting connections between these two communities.

Thus, an encouraged imitative has begun in West Virginia to explore this meaningful and enduring relationship. Connected: An African American and Jewish Dialogue will combine a variety of programs and performances to heighten the awareness of a historical relationship built during a significant time in the life of our State. It will continue with the efforts of numerous individuals and organizations to engage in a productive dialogue discovering interconnecting ties within our communities and other facets of our lives. These discussions will offer an opportunity to reveal to some and for reflection for others of continuous partnerships that grew out of joint efforts during a critical period of racial growth in the State of West Virginia. These endeavors unified African – American and Jewish community leaders with common goals while providing a chance for years of friendship and trust.

In conjunction with the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts, and the WV Center for African- American Art & Culture wish to highlight this period by inviting the author Rebecca Walker to participate in The Secretary’s Lecture Series and discuss her book, Black, White and Jewish: Autobiography of a Shifting Self. Ms. Walker tells of her lineage and struggles of growing up at a time of unknowing her true identity in a polarized society. Ms. Walker is the daughter of the acclaimed African-American writer, Alice Walker, author of the book: The Color Purple, and Mel Leventhal, a prominent civil rights attorney from New York.

We hope this social communication can assist in building bridges of educational value and become a source of cultural enlightenment that will provide the stimulus for a unique learning experience.


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