Changing Perspectives: Black-Jewish Relations in Houston During the Civil Rights Era

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University of North Texas Press, 2021 - African Americans - 415 pages
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Winner of the Lynna Kay Shuffield Memorial Award in Texas Jewish History, 2022.

Changing Perspectives charts the pivotal period in Houston's history when Jewish and Black leadership eventually came together to work for positive change. This is a story of two communities, both of which struggled to claim the rights and privileges they desired. Previous scholars of Southern Jewish history have argued that Black-Jewish relations did not exist in the South. However, during the 1930s to the 1980s, Jews and Blacks in Houston interacted in diverse and oftentimes surprising ways.

For example, Houston's Jewish leaders and eventually Black political leaders forged a connection that blossomed into the creation of the Mickey Leland Kibbutzim Internship in Israel for disadvantaged Black youth. Initially Houston Jewish leadership battled with their devotion to liberalism and sympathy with oppressed Blacks and their desire to acculturate. The distance between Houston's Jews and Blacks diminished after changing demographics, the end of segregation, city redistricting, and the emergence of Black political power. Simultaneously, Israel's victory during the Six-Day War caused the city's Jews to embrace their Jewish identity and form an unexpected bond with Black political leaders over the cause of Zionism


Allison Schottenstein shows that Black-Jewish relations did exist during the Long Civil Rights Movement in Houston. Indeed, Houston played a significant role in the scope of Southern Jewish history and in expanding our understanding of Black-Jewish relations in the United States.

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About the author (2021)

ALLISON E. SCHOTTENSTEIN received her Ph.D. in American history with a specialty in Jewish History from the University of Texas at Austin. She currently teaches at the University of Cincinnati and its Blue Ash campus.

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