|Program:||National Center on Black-Jewish Relations, New Orleans, LA|
|Contact(s):||Mildred Robertson, Office of Communications, Dillard University: (504) 286-4711|
|Purpose:||To engage students and community activists in discussions on ways to improve race relations|
In 1989, Dillard University, a historically black college, founded the National Center for Black-Jewish Relations to reduce hostilities that seemed to be emerging between members of the African American and Jewish communities. During its first eight years, the center's activities were devoted to revitalizing the black-Jewish alliances that had been so successful during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. In 1998, the center expanded its charter to focus on the new realities of America's future. Thinking that the country needs new models for producing a more just society, the center now asks African Americans and Jewish Americans what insights they can bring from their respective social experiences and intellectual traditions that can contribute to solving problems related to race and ethnicity.
Each spring, the center sponsors an annual conference on a specific topic, with discussions, presentations, workshops and time for informal interaction. For example, the 1998 conference topic--"A Dialogue on Race from Women's Perspectives"--exemplified the center's recognition that women's perspectives and gender issues have too often been separated from race issues. In the design of the each year's conference, the center makes sure that information and insights circulates among university scholars, students and people in communities. The center intends to spur discussions among historians, cultural critics, teachers and others who will use these ideas and put them into practice.
Outcomes and Significant Accomplishments
An average of 250 people attend the annual conference, which is free of charge. Most of the participants have been from the New Orleans and Baton Rouge areas, although some participants traveled from other parts of the country. Current plans for the center include holding monthly meetings to encourage dialogue and to present student papers that examine opportunities for improving race relations. The purpose of this expanded structure is to create new networks among young, college-age African Americans and Jewish Americans so they can get to know each other and discuss problems and solutions.
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