Jewish Contributions to the Early Civil Rights Movement

3950 Words Jun 22nd, 2018 16 Pages
In many ways, the 1950s planted the seeds for the progress of the 60s. Glimpses of the rebellious generation, who would later find its way to the anti-War protests, are found throughout the fifties, specifically in movies like Rebel Without a Cause and more overtly in Jack Kerouac?s On The Road. The move away from conformity and towards more of an individualistic mentality began in the somewhat closed circles of the Beat movement and spread throughout America during the sixties. The Montgomery Bus Boycotts and Brown V. Board of Education were great precursors to the revolutionary civil rights legislation of the mid sixties. Whereas for most of the aforementioned societal changes, the 50s only exhibited hints of what was to come in the …show more content…
Martin Luther King Jr. took the helm of the Montgomery Improvement Association, which was in charge of the boycott, and it was under his leadership that the civil rights movement began to take a new direction. His approach to the civil injustices of the time was peaceful confrontation. Exploiting the new TV medium of the 1950s, King was able to reach millions more. The contrast of innocent Blacks against the antagonistic White policemen of the South struck a chord with the liberal Americans of the North. Playing on progressive ideals, King captured the attention of the left-leaning Americans, specifically those who found it difficult to express themselves in the federally-hunted Communist movement.

King, a religious man himself, frequently alluded to Biblical stories and themes. Instead of talking about the resurrection of Jesus and other themes which divided Christians and Jews, King focused on the Old Testament and the common values found in both religions. King himself declared that, "I draw not from Marxism or any other secular philosophy but from the prophets of Israel; from their passion for justice and cry for righteousness. The ethic of Judaism is integral to my Christian faith."[3] King concentrated on the shared belief of a compassionate God, as he once told a Rabbi, "You and I draw living waters from the same spring, from the belief in a God of love, Mercy and Justice.
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