The artwork on this note card was created by 5768 WRJ Art Calendar artist Césan d’Ornellas Levine.
[ Excerpted from A. Vorspan and D. Saperstein, Jewish Dimensions of Social Justice: Tough Moral Choices of Our Time (UAHC Press: 1998, 203ff) ]
It is unsurprising that Jews responded powerfully to the fight against racial segregation and discrimination in America. After all, no group in history has been so frequently the victim of racial hatred. As a result, few segments of the American community have invested themselves as deeply as the Jewish community in the struggle for civil rights. As a result of the demands of faith and of enlightened self-interest, Jews served in the forefront of the fight to end racial segregation in education, public accommodations and voting, by playing an active role in the equality struggles of the ’50s and ’60s, when a strong black/Jewish alliance was at the heart of the civil rights movement.
The Reform Movement and Civil Rights
Jewish political leverage contributed to passage of landmark civil rights laws, nationally and locally. Once civil rights and religious groups mobilized the conscience of America against racial evil, changes came at least. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 were both drafted in the conference room of the RAC's building in Washington, D.C., under the aegis of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (which for decades was housed in the Center).
The Jewish Community continued as avid supporters of over a score of the most far-reaching civil rights laws in the nation's history, addressing persistent discrimination in voting, housing, and employment, against women, racial minorities, and persons with disabilities.
The Reform Movement has been looked to since the 1990s, as its leaders represent the Jewish community on the executive committees of LCCR and the national board of the NAACP. Rabbi David Saperstein is currently the only non-African-American on the NAACP board.
Civil Rights and the Arthur and Sara Jo Kobacker Building
For 30 years, the Religious Action Center housed a number of key civil rights and Jewish organizations who met regularly to mobilize support for civil rights legislation. The following are a sampling of some of the key civil rights bills that were either drafted at the Center and/or for which the coalition supporting the legislation held their meetings in the Center's conference room: