Joachim Prinz and Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr. and Jews in the Civil Rights Movement

This weekend we honor civil rights pioneer Martin Luther King, Jr, who helped pave the way for a new era of racial integration in America. But he didn’t do it alone. In honor of MLK Day weekend, enjoy a sampling of our past year of special coverage on Jewish involvement in the Civil Rights Movement, online and in print. When Freedom Summer Came to Town In July/August, Marc Fisher of The Washington Post brought us on a journey back to Hattiesburg, Mississippi in the year of 1964. During that long, hot summer, the Jews of Hattiesburg met their northern cousins on the front lines of the Civil Rights Movement—and the two didn’t always get along. Civil Rights Act Turns 50 Reader David Goldstick recalls his experience defending the Freedom Riders as a young attorney just after the passage of the Civil Rights Act. Reader...

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Mendy Samstein (1938-2007), Unsung Hero of Freedom Summer

Editor's Note: This story is part of our yearlong anniversary coverage of Jews' involvement in the American Civil Rights Movement. By Dina Weinstein In the winter of 1963, a 25-year-old doctoral student at the University of Chicago traveled to Atlanta, Georgia. There, Mendy Samstein connected with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and activist academics who were a part of the movement, participating in sit-ins and organizing marches. In many ways, his story was not unique: Like thousands of others in Chicago and throughout the North, he wanted to help with the struggle against segregation and violence. But Samstein would become one of the movement’s few core, long-time Jewish staff members and one of the architects of Freedom Summer. Mendy Samstein quickly connected with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and met Bob Moses, one of SNCC’s black leaders,...

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