Fight against Fear: Southern Jews and Black Civil Rights

By Scopino, A. J., Jr. | South Carolina Historical Magazine, January 2002 | Go to article overview

Fight against Fear: Southern Jews and Black Civil Rights


Scopino, A. J., Jr., South Carolina Historical Magazine


Fight Against Fear: Southern Jews and Black Civil Rights. By Clive Webb. (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2001. Pp. xvii, 307; $50.00, cloth.)

In Fight Against Fear: Southern Jews and Black Civil Rights, author Clive Webb has made a significant contribution in explaining the tenuous relationship between Southern blacks and Jews during the modern Civil Rights Movement. As both groups shared a common history of suffering, the potential alliance of Jews and African Americans appeared natural and fitting. On the surface, at least, there appeared to exist "something of a symbiotic relationship"(p. 35) between the two groups. Yet, this alliance was never realized. According to Webb's findings, Southern Jews were indistinguishable from other Southern whites in their attitudes and behavior toward blacks and desegregation.

Constituting a small minority of the population by the middle of the 20th century (about 230,000 in the mid-1950s), Southern Jews enjoyed relative freedom in the social, political and economic life of the South. In times of crises, Jews stood shoulder to shoulder with the majority of Southerners. In the antebellum period, Jews supported chattel slavery. During the Civil War, many Southern Jews served in the military. Some occupied positions in the Confederate government, and Jewish merchants supplied needed goods to the Southern cause. When the Confederacy collapsed, Jews shared in the suffering with their fellow Southerners.

Despite their contributions and loyalty to their region, at no time were Jews fully absorbed into Southern society. As members of a minority faith, Jews remained on the margins of Gentile society. Recurrent outbursts of anti-Semitism sobered Jews as to the limitations of their acceptance in the region. Jews could be convenient scapegoats. During the Civil War, for example, when the Union blockade of 1862 began to squeeze the Southern economy, Jewish merchants were harassed when they were forced to raise prices on goods. Following the death of a young employee in 1913, a mob lynched Jewish factory owner Leo Frank. Jews became targets of the Klan in the 1920s and Fascist groups in the 1930s and 1940s. In the 1950s, a series of bombings throughout the South destroyed Jewish temples, synagogues, community centers and religious schools. Following the bombings of the 1950s, Southern Jews were confronted with another crisis. By the 1960s, Northern Jews had eagerly joined in the direct action campaigns that were sweeping the South. In 1964, many Northern Jews participated in the Mississippi Summer Project, a massive educational and voter registration initiative sponsored by the Congress for Racial Equality (CORE). The murder of three student activists that summer, two of whom happened to be Jewish, heightened fears among the region's resident Jews. Southern Jews charged that the involvement of their Northern brethren was counterproductive and potentially dangerous to Jews living in the South.

Threats, damage to property and even physical harm could be unleashed upon Southern Jews with the least provocation.

As the result of this ever-present threat, "The majority of southern Jews failed to make a constructive contribution to the Civil Rights struggle. As the forces of anti-Semitism stirred in response to the desegregation crisis," claims Webb, "Southern Jews became increasingly alarmed for their personal safety" (pp.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Fight against Fear: Southern Jews and Black Civil Rights
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.