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Partnership Seeks Revival of Black, Jewish Alliance in Higher Education

The Academic Engagement Network is partnering with historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in a new project to reignite the historic alliance between the Black and Jewish communities in combating rising antisemitism and find ways to counter prejudice and hate facing Blacks and Jews.

Dr. Meir MullerDr. Meir Muller“As Jewish scholars fled Nazi Germany, they unfortunately found many barriers in the U.S. academy,” said Miriam Elman, executive director of the Academic Engagement Network, which is funding the project. “But an exception were HBCUs that provided visas and employment to 50 German Jewish scholars, saving their lives. Black and Jewish communities in the U.S. forged a unique bond as a result of these experiences.”

The project is expected to draw on that history this year, launching at South Carolina State University and Vorhees University before expanding to additional HBCUs in South Carolina in the years that follow. Each institution will provide seminars to educate faculty and students about the shared history of Black-Jewish solidarity, provide a deeper understanding of Jewish identity and Israel, and prepare participants to confront antisemitism in the world.

“Our students are poised to become the future leaders of various fields, including industry, business, science, and law,” said Vorhees University President Dr. Ronnie Hopkins. “It is imperative that they are equipped to combat all forms of hatred, including antisemitism.”

University of South Carolina professors Dr. Devin Randolph and Dr. Meir Muller, who operate the only Anne Frank Center in the United States, will lead the effort. Supported by the Academic Engagement Network’s Antisemitism Education Initiative, Randolph and Muller join faculty at seven other schools of higher education who recently received AEN grants to launch antisemitism awareness programs and resources on their campuses and beyond.

“At the heart of this approach is the emphasis on creating inclusive and diverse spaces,” said Randolph. “I see this endeavor as something truly invaluable, drawing from a legacy of resilience and aspirations for a future marked by understanding and progress.”

“We acknowledge that we are in a time when the alliance between our communities is strained,” added Muller, “yet we believe that the foundation for solidarity is present and can be revitalized through educational endeavors.”

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