Jewish Uses and Abuses of Martin Luther King’s Memory

Posted in Articles, Judaism, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Religion, United States on 2016-01-21 20:15Z by Steven

Jewish Uses and Abuses of Martin Luther King’s Memory


Jared Jackson, Founder/Executive Director
Jews in ALL Hues

Four years ago, I made a promise to myself: I would not accept any more invitations to speak to the Jewish community on Martin Luther King weekend. Since then, I have dutifully kept that promise. But this year, I’m breaking it.

Here’s the thing: I used to love MLK weekend. In fact, I still have a deep love for it. The service projects, the gathering of people from different religious and humanistic traditions, and learning just a bit more about the civil rights era from people who were there — it was always a time I could look forward to. As a Jewish professional, I noticed that this was also the time when many communities reached out to Jewish leaders of color for speaking engagements. And I used to go to those events and speak to some of those communities.

Then I realized how many Ashkenazi Jewish communities take credit for a social justice heritage to which they are not currently contributing. It’s fine to have an event honoring the legacy of Jewish involvement in the civil rights era, so long as there is a clear plan to continue the work that King, Abraham Joshua Heschel and many others started…

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