Shared History

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), January 31, 2011 | Go to article overview

Shared History


Byline: Submitted by the Illinois Holocaust Museum

Before World War II officially began, Germany was purging Jewish professors, scientists and scholars from the work force. Deprived of their livelihoods, some found refuge in the United States.

A few dozen of them took jobs working for historically black colleges in the South. Persecuted for their identity in Nazi Germany, they came face-to-face with the absurdities faced by their students in a rigidly segregated Jim Crow society.

A new exhibit at the Illinois Holocaust Museum in Skokie, "Beyond Swastika and Jim Crow," explores the unlikely coming together of these two groups, each the object of exclusion and hatred, and examines the ongoing encounter between them as they navigated the challenges of life in the segregated South.

Through historical objects, photographs, texts and artworks such as "The Gleaners" by John Biggers, visitors learn the stories of two disenfranchised groups brought together in search of opportunity and freedom.

In conjunction with the exhibit, the museum plans a variety of special programs:

* "Racial Laws Nuremberg and Jim Crow": 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 13. Leading Holocaust historian Michael Berenbaum and Mary Lee Webeck, director of education at the Holocaust Museum of Houston, will discuss whether a shared suffering under anti-minority legislation was a motivating factor in the alliance between American Jews and blacks from World War II through the Civil Rights era.

* "An Afternoon for the Family": 1:30 p.m. Sunday, March 6. Story

telling focused on Patricia Polacco's book, "Mrs. Katz and Tush," followed by an art activity designed for 6- to 10-year-olds with family members. …

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