Exhibit shows how blacks, German Jews fought oppression

Two different cultures come together to fight oppression - it's the theme of a new exhibit at Chicago's Dusable Museum that tells the story of German Jews and African Americans - joining forces in their fight for freedom.
February 7, 2014 3:29:46 PM PST
Two different cultures come together to fight oppression - it's the theme of a new exhibit at Chicago's Dusable Museum that tells the story of German Jews and African Americans - joining forces in their fight for freedom.

It's a part of black history seldom talked about.

"It's one of the little-known unstories about World War II that we are slowly finding out about," said Jackie Williams, Dusable Museum of African American History.

It's about the role Jews fleeing Nazi Germany played in the fight against Jim Crow segregation laws in the south.

"These are wonderful nuggets of history that really come bubbling to the top that we really are able to share," Williams said.

These events are being shared at Dusable in a new exhibit entitled "Beyond Swastika and Jim Crow -- Jewish Refugee Scholars at Black Colleges." The exhibition tells the story of Jewish professors from Germany and Austria -- who after being dismissed from their teaching positions in the 1930s by the Nazis -- fled to America. After arriving some of these refugee scholars still faced anti-Semitism, but eventually found teaching positions at historically black colleges and universities in the "Jim Crow South." Back then, Jim Crow laws helped create separate but equal status for blacks.

The exhibit begins in Germany and ends in the south, and it tells the story how these two groups came together...betterment of their university.

The exhibition has traveled nationally since 2010 and includes artifacts, among other things, like a photo of Albert Einstein as he taught physics in 1946 at historically black college -- Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. it also explores the connection between two groups with a history of persecution and how they came together in search of the freedom and opportunity that would serve as the foundation for the Civil Rights Movement.

"If anything, it's a human rights story," Williams said.