Sisterhood Blog

New Curriculum Highlights Work of Jewish, Female Civil Rights Activists

By Renee Ghert-Zand

  • Print
  • Share Share
Wallace Roberts, via JWA
Heather Booth plays guitar for Fannie Lou Hamer during the Freedom Summer Project in Mississippi, 1964.

When we think of Jews who played a role in the Civil Rights Movement, names like Andrew Goodman, Mickey Schwerner and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel immediately come to mind. Few of us would name Judith Frieze Wright, Heather Tobis Booth or Beatrice “Buddy” Mayer. A free, new online curriculum called “Living the Legacy,” written by Judith Rosenbaum and published by Jewish Women’s Archive is attempting to change that — by shedding light on Jews and the Civil Rights Movement through a distinctly feminist lens.

“Living the Legacy” is a robust guide to the questions Jewish teens today should be considering — not only about Jewish participation in the Civil Rights Movement of 50 years ago, but also about their own political identity and commitment to social justice and human rights.

Organized around themes of personal identity and action, activism and the Civil Rights Movement, and Jewish–African-American relations, the curriculum is a treasure trove of primary and secondary sources, as well as relevant Jewish texts. The curriculum includes archival photographs, letters, sermons, newspaper articles, speeches, transcripts, artifacts, and video and audio recordings. All of these are woven into detailed lesson plans.

Students in grades 8-12 will be exposed to the familiar names and faces of Jewish Civil Rights activists, and they will also meet women who were equally committed to the cause, but whose stories are lesser known. They will learn, for example, about how Booth went South to Mississippi as a participant in the Freedom Summer Project to register African Americans to vote and to run “Freedom Schools” for the African American community. And they will learn about Mayer, who put her desire to foster dialogue and solidarity among Northern and Southern women above her own family life. The curriculum provides insights into how Jewish women acted alongside male Civil Rights activists, but also about how some of their approaches and achievements differed from those of the men.

You do not have to be a professional educator to appreciate what Rosenbaum has done. “Living the Legacy” is a gift to everyone.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Judith Frieze Wright, Heather Booth, Freedom Summer, Civil Rights, Beatrice Mayer

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Why won't the city give an answer?
  • BREAKING NEWS: Israel has officially suspended peace talks with the Palestinians.
  • Can you guess what the most boring job in the army is?
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • Would you get to know racists on a first-name basis if you thought it might help you prevent them from going on rampages, like the recent shooting in Kansas City?
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • Russia's playing the "Jew card"...again.
  • "Israel should deal with this discrimination against Americans on its own merits... not simply as a bargaining chip for easy entry to the U.S." Do you agree?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.