Civil Rights: Then and Now

In Home, Racial Justice by Judy Schindler6 Comments

Reflections from a trip to Birmingham, Montgomery and Selma with the Jewish Federation of Greater Charlotte.

Birmingham, 1955.
Rosa was 42 years old.
“The only tired I was, was tired of giving in.”

Montgomery, 1963.
George Wallace.
An inaugural address saying:
“Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.”

Birmingham, 1963.
The children’s march.
4,000 students, steadfast and strong.
The fallen lifted by their neighbors.

Selma, 1965.
Bloody Sunday (600 marchers).
Turn around Tuesday (2,500 marchers).
A third march to Montgomery
(Began with 2,000 and ended with 25,000).

Lynchings. Shootings. Bombings. Police dogs. Fire hoses.
Linked arms. Holding fast to one another.

The murdered and the martyred
Stolen from their parents, their children,
Their world and ours.

Jews and Blacks –
At times together.
At times a world apart.

1619, the first slaves
kidnapped from Africa
chained and brought to our shores.
Our countries’ wealth built upon their backs.
Building centuries of resentment
and even hate.

The dream —
the American dream and King’s dream —
have left too many behind.

Racism killed then and racism kills now.
White supremacy remains…
Hate groups watched like hawks
by the Southern Poverty Law Center
who wait till they err
and attempt to out and uproot them.

Racism killed then and racism kills now.
Voting laws burdening minorities,
police profiling, implicit bias,
poverty, mass incarceration.

King said in the name of the Biblical Amos,
“We are not satisfied, we will not be satisfied,
till ‘justice roll down like waters, and
righteousness like mighty stream.’”

Water purifies.
Water refreshes. Water renews.
Water sustains.

Waters of injustice don’t part themselves.
We must part them
or create bridges above them
so that none continue to drown.

We march. We dream. We remember.
Their story. Our story.
Still to be written.
Still to be fulfilled.



  1. Said so beautifully..we lived in northern Alabama during the time of Wallace in a sweet Jewish community when life was simple and easy..but we began feeling the aftershock of Wallace’s ranting and raving and decided not to be in that state any much has happened and some things have changed…..but so much more that has to always.i appreciate your insight and perspective..stsn

  2. Rabbi Judith Schindler is Associate Professor of Jewish Studies and Director of the Stan Greenspon Center for Peace and Social Justice at Queens University of Charlotte.

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