In the early 1930s, Jewish professors in Nazi Germany were forced out of their universities. Escaping to the U.S., they encountered anti-Semitism and distrust of German refugees. But, they eventually found teaching posts in surprising places.
The documentary film, From Swastika to Jim Crow tells the little-known story of these Jewish scholars who secured jobs at traditionally black colleges in the still-segregated South. At first, these matches were undertaken for practical benefits: the professors needed work, and the schools needed teaching talent, gradually, relationships were formed that transcended cultural divides. How did these two groups, so different in origin, in a region where racial separation controlled society, come together in mutual understanding and affection? It is a timely question.
Dr. Lillie Edwards, Professor Emerita of History and African-American Studies at Drew University, will introduce and present this important film, and lead the conversation afterwards.
Dr. Edwards received her doctorate in U.S. Southern history, African history and African literature from the University of Chicago. During 23 years at Drew, she served as founding Director of Pan-African Studies and Director of American Studies. She received two awards for distinguished teaching, has published books for both students and teachers, and has worked throughout her career to bring African-American studies to the public as well as to classrooms.