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From Swastika to Jim Crow


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I think the media should be more careful while equating the Swatika with Nazism. Swastika is a powerful religious symbol in Hindus and we expect others to respect that. We love and respect Jews as much as we respect christians and muslims or buddhists. But please if we cant take steps to dissassociate the Swastika from Hitler at least we should not try to link it further. Maybe steps should be taken in future to teach children about this in history lessons in order to prevent future misunderstanding and hatred.

If you have a dinner where bigots and Blacks attended the Blacks would learn about ignorance, at least.

The Special Ingredient for a productive sharing experience is maturity, integrity, open-mindedness. You must enlighten people to logic and ethics and the principles of human rights to eliminate the barrier of arrogance.

Closed minded bigots do not want to learn about anybody. They just want everybody to be like them and that is the only thing they know and want to know. Amen.

Documentary type of programs only require objectivity and accuracy that anyone can have. But to properly give subjective direction to an actor or theme is very tricky.

The white Jews always knew who they were traditionally and historically, but the black African peoples have never scientifically defined themselves nor have any of these bigot-chosen African American leaders that Americans are so fond of. We knew we were different only because racists treated us as such. The problem is that African peoples have not yet reached a level of sophistication in self-identity independent from the superstition and the confusion created by TV clowns and leaders who pimp our people. I will say that I am embarrassed but admire how some whites do a better job in recognizing that these Hip-Hop clowns don't possess the soul of our people anymore.

The swasticka has been around since prehistoric time and is an important symbol in many religions, however that is never mention. It is older than the Star of David and the Cross. Many people who are Buddhist or Hindus cannot show a symbol of their religion because of fear of being called a racist or being attack. When you talk about swastika you should also discuss its importance to world religion and culture. Since we live in an educated society, we should not be afraid of sharing information that might not be popular with mainstream thinking.

stephen sinclair
While researching for my degree in England i came upon this site. I am currently looking at the United States in the 20th century. This month i am looking at American Identity and Society.Whilst doing my research i was struck by my peception of institutional structural racism. A racism that appears to derive its strenght from the need for economic power. The dominant wasp's sought to perpetuate their power by the 1924 immingration act. The USA since then with its lack of labour organization and influx of cheap labour further entrenches the divsion between the ruling elite and the dominated. You only have to look at econmic data, that shows the Jew who appears to be perceived as white, is above the mean (100) at 172 and the native american at 62 to see the wide divison. All coloured people are below the mean. In the 1950's according to Walter Mosley the African-American was capable of acheiving a limited American dream. Yet the Jew continues to improve his position in econmic and polit ical power, why is this? Is it because the Jew took up 'educational' opportunites and 'worked hard'? But why is the African-American still appear opressed, is it because as the programe points out that he is seeking to break free of 3and one half centuries of endemic racism? I see Americas way out of this tension being forced upon the wasps by the current immigration pattern of latin Americans and Asians eventulluy forcing a integration. Arthur Schlesinger jnr suggests that 'love' and 'sex' is the way out of the logjam! This would appear to be backed up by the statistic of 52% intermarriage by the jewish population causing the complete assimilation of the Racial group.

The so-called Blacks are at a big disadvantage at this point. This people the so-called jews; have used the media to make a mockery of blacks. These two groups, blacks and jews have been at odds for quite a long time. The blacks for the most part don't know it. The main problem is many blacks still don't realize the people who call themselves jews have a stolen identity. The identity is that of the Israelites. The people known as jews, or Edomites have robbed, mislead, and decieved Israel the people. Truth is stranger than fiction. Finally many people are waking up the the fact that those who now inhabit the land of Israel are not the Israelites. The word israeli is a confession to the world, they are not the Israelites..

I believe that some things that happened in the past should be repeated;such as the Holocaust.If we were to teach the so called "facts" about raceism most people who support anti-raceism will only teach the anti-raceism facts and no pro-raceism facts just because society says its wrong.

If americans in particular the individual who posted a message on the 3/5/01 can not handle there country being referred to as 'the states' and feel persecuted by foriegn nationals calling the US(States)A 'the states' then when americans refer to there own country (unless it is an insiders insult to there own land) as 'the states' will they please give a warning message to all none americans to use a different abbreviation.

Unless that particular person who brought up that statement was particularly dumb and i would rather believe that, than believe all americans are as insecure about themselves as she says they are. Thankyou!! PLZ FEEDBACKS GREAT

Ferris Rhodes
I took many notes to study from.The one thing iam upset about is black people vote for the democrats which were the dixiecrats the confederates of the south.Abraham Lincoln was a republican also Fredrick Douglass,Denmark Vessy,Booker T.Washington etc.How blacks allow themselves to be deceived is baffaling.It was against the law to be a democrat.Republicans help free blacks from slavery.I guess since democrats offered blacks welfare we switched.Jews would never vote for the Nazi party,why would blacks vote for the democratic slavemaster of the south,no matter what they offer?

Shira-Davida Goldberg-Rathell
My name is Shira-Davida Goldberg-Rathell and I am the Executive Director & Founder of Yachad b'Shalom ~ Together In Peace, an organizations that strives to connect mainstream and marginalized Jews into a more cohesive and familiar coexistence.

It is a truism that there are many more similarities between represented, mainstream Jews and diverse Jewish families & Jews of Color. There are issues that have weakened the social climate that we intend to address and alleviate through information, resources and most importantly community.

YBS understands these concerns and has helped thousands of diverse Jewish families in a multitude of ways. By understanding that there is a need to be met and that families are not complete without the Jewish community's sustenance we continue to fill a collective void. By having a voice we are in a more prominent position to find venues that embrace and celebrate our unique and wonderful perspective.

I simply want to express appreciation for the beautiful program. As a 41 year old Jewish woman whose family actively engaged in the civil rights and Soviet Jewry struggles in this country I still did not know about this particular sensible liaison. I personally know/ew the strong bond and connection that existed between my family and the African-American families we protested with, so it is not exactly surprising, but I am so grateful to know about the mutual struggle experienced in the south in the years your program covered.

The evening I viewed the program, January 3, 2002 on WGBH, it was followed by a two hour Frontline documentary on Nelson Mandela. I couldn't help but notice that President Mandela borrowed a page from Dr. Borinski's own book in that one of his first (symbolic) acts as President was to bring together the white and black leading women of the newly democratic South Africa seated alternately to mingle and relate, as had been done in Dr. Borinski's pre-Forum suppers.

Thanks again for bringing these relationships to my attention.

chelsie cosby
I think that racism goes beyond color it's really past hurts that we need to blame on someone and it's also how we are raised. I've noticed researching about racesim that it is hard to understand and hard to get rid of. It's like a diease that only spreads even when we think we've killed it. why do I think this way? let's put it in perspective. Lets pretend everyone was green. we as the "green race" would find differences in each other because of different idea's, thoughts,ect! we always say the African americans used to be friendly to the jews but now their not. That's because people in the African American race are different. I will go farther and say their isn't even a race of African Americans were all americans! we are all different inside! Some people hate, why? who knows! but i do know love never fails and we may be fighting this fight against raceism forever, but we will keep fighting!

I felt I should respond to this firstly,to advocate that if a person has sufficient intelligence and human empathy they should be able to teach anything that requires teaching.The problem is that people are not always as intelligent as they appear or as they assume.For example the lady that wrote suggesting that the 'English' STILL refer to the USA as 'The States'is obviously a person who has the problem that I mentioned earlier. The English refer to the USA as 'The States' simply as an abbreviation of the 'United STATES of America' which is the description by which America calls ITSELF.As for being freed from the English,maybe I should mention that infact those persons who were freed WERE predominantly ENGLISH themselves.It was the English government at the time, that they were seeking freedom from....and might I also add that they sought their freedom in a country that did not belong to them.It (America) belonged to the Native Indians who were treated terribly at the hands of the 'newcomers'as were the negroes some years later.So when we teach...we should teach the facts as they really are and not how you perceive them to be. The English are referred to as 'Brits' ,'Limeys','Pommies' and probably a few more less savory names which we are not aware of.....We do not look down or feel superior to Americans on the contrary we feel the opposite applies.Yes I am a Brit, currently here on business...Whilst my country is far from perfect it has a politeness and courtesy that I have not witnessed anywhere else on my travels,the next best contender would be Canada,a very polite nation....We can also teach from experience and coming here is certainly that !

Susan Cohen
I am very pleased to learn that the situation was not as one-sided as it is usually portrayed (when it is portrayed positively!) - i.e., Jews giving to needy Blacks. It is heartening to learn that Blacks were also in a position to give to needy Jews.

Yet again, this program proves the maxim of how we must all learn from history, or be doomed to repeat it.

Yes,I find that,it is possible to teach a subject that,you are not directly a part of,or,to direct a film,that you are not directly a part of. The Black author,even though he or she has a better understanding of the material,a white author or teacher can still teach the same subject.There should not be a racial factor.
There should be an equal partnership.Even though,the Black writer might feel strongly about the topic,he or she might be overzealous about the material. Where,a white director,or,author,might give the material another perspective.The perspective would be one of an historical nature.
The Black author might be able to give the presentation to add entertainment to the format.He or she might make it entertaining,and,not dry at all.Again,it should be noted here,that everyone gives their own perspective to material.So,it is soley up to the speaker,and,to noone else.

There seems to be a rapid return of hatred where races are concerned. To me,as long as a person is hard working,and prepared to take care of his/her family,there should not be a problem.
Under God,He does not see color.But,we as people do.We see the differences,and,we do not want any part of it.Racism is brought upon by ignorance.Ignorance of one's culture.
We do not respect each other,and,this happens quite a bit.Whether you are in Europe,or in the United States.The saddest part about this is,that noone can get beyond the race,or,the culture.
Yes,granted,there are some people who are educated enough to see that,there is a person beneath their color.
The English still see us as "The States," and,this is way past the American Revolution.We had been freed from England since 1776,and,we are still feeling the stigma of our need to break free of their reign. As small as that might sound,they are discriminating against us.They are still feeling that need to be "Superior" over us.As an American,you can feel very aggrevated by them,or,you can choose to go on with your business,and,move on.
Racism can hit anyone.In the United States,you can feel it,every time you walk out of your house,or,every time,you walk down the street.There could be a neighbor who just does not like you,no matter how kind you had been to that person,in the not-so-distant past.
You can show kindness to a person,and,if they are a racist,they will act on their ignorance,and, their anger before they even get to know you. Racism comes in many forms.And,if you are not aware of it,you will get hurt by it,every time.To my husband and myself,racism is ignorance.We are a racially mixed couple.We had gone through the scorn,and,the humiliation.We had been stared at,and,we were talked about,behind our backs.
And,our child is racially mixed.She is Hispanic,Jewish,Russian-Polish, Black,Part American Indian,and,she is one of the sweetest people.She is polite,and,she respects others,and their feelings,no matter what race they happen to be.
To our daughter,she is blessed.She knows what her background is,and,she does not seem to care too much about it.Because,to the world,she is known as "Aida," and that is good enough for her. She has friends of every single color.She has classmates from every background imaginable,and,yet she likes them,and respects them no matter what.
Racism is a disease,that comes from ignorance.And that is something that most people do not want to admit. Children need to learn how racism is such a horrible disease.That,this country cannot afford to give it any more energy than it has right now. We all need to accept each other as individuals.
0nce that this is achieved,we can all move ahead to a much more productive existence.

Susan Einemo
I am 42 years old and grew up in the south in the 60s and 70s. My first recollection of racism was at the age of 5 or 6 on a bus trip to visit a relative. My older sister and I traveling alone got off the bus on a scheduled stop. While my sister went to the restroom I went to the soda fountain, sat down and ordered a coke. The lady behind the counter very politely explained she could not serve me and walked me over to the WHITES ONLY counter. My parents did not instil in their children the idea that we were any different than anyone of another color or religion. For that I am grateful and hope I can do the same with my children. I am however not blind to the fact that discrimination exist on all levels whether it be race, religion, or sexual preference. I do also feel that I am lucky to live in one of the most accepting Nations on earth. While we have many problems we are at least free to voice opinions. It is always nice to see a positive approach to any situation. How can we do this without communication?

G. Lynnwood Hall
Question is not whether African-American people have inalienable rights as "human beings", we do not in the U.S.A., but when will there be a time when we can live with even a minute portion of european caucasian's american given rights because of their color and not their character? Fighting for what this country supposedly stands for, "freedom, equality......etc." is the biggest sham heaped upon black people, especially black men. Before we again fight for anyone else around the globe, we had best examine and analyze our situation here in the U.S.A.

I attended Bennett College in the mid-60's. One of my professors was Dr. Rose Karfiol, a German Jewish refugee from the Nazi's. She taught Political Science and Economics until she was forced to retire. She was an amazing woman full of energy and love for her students. She came from Germany in 1939, I believe. She brought Jewish children over. I never knew how she got to Bennett or that there were others like her at Black Colleges throughout the south, but I was glad to see the program. I only wish you'd talked to someone from Bennett. It was also great to see so many people that I know and know of in the program.

rachel garrett
My understanding of this is that the americans were basically hypocrites. They "saved" the jews from Hitler, but they were doing the same things to the african americans here that the nazis did in Germany.If you think about it they were being nothing but nazis themselves. I may be young, but i think I have a pretty good understaning of this event.

John Geyer
There has been an active civil rights movement in this country since the 17th century. Whites have always played an important role in this movement. Since WWII many of these whites have been Jewish;many have not. Why tell only the Jewish story?

David Levine
Perhaps it's politically incorrect to write this but it is indeed unfortunate that black-Jewish relations have taken the turn they have.

It is particularly hurtful to see and hear a hall full of black, mostly students, at Howard University cheer on a speaker whose remarks reek of what the professors profiled in this documentary must have heard in Germany. We see and hear the presidential candidate most blacks supported in two presidential campaigns referring to New York City an "Hymietown" and embracing a figure on the international stage who "made his bones" killing Jews. We remember that the only pogrom in American history was perpetrated by blacks in Brooklyn using copycat tactics that they must have seen on documentary films on PBS stations. In situation after situation we see anecdotal evidnece of black disregard of Jewish concerns in so many instances this website is insufficient to catalog them. Shame, really!

Paul Murray
I was delighted to see the recongnition given to Dr. Ernst Borinski in the film "From the Swastika to Jim Crow." As a young sociologist, just beginning my career in the early 1970's, Dr. Borinski was instrumental in helping me land my first full-time teaching position. For several years he was a friend, mentor, and colleague. For myself and for many other young teachers he was a model of the invloved, compassionate, and committed intellectual. He demonstrated that one person, acting with great convicition, can make a huge difference and single-handedly be a force for social change.
As I learned about his personal history I became more amazed at his accomplishments. Dr. Borinski came to the United States at a time when our country was not eager to accept Jewish refugees. In Germany he had been a lawyer and a judge. Soon after arriving in America he was drafted and returned to Europe with the U.S. Army where he served as a translator. After his discharge he earned his Ph.D. in Sociology and was hired by Tougaloo College in Mississippi. There he taught for more than 30 years, inspiring several generations of students and faculty members, like myself.
Dr. Borinski was accurately described as a "race agitator" by the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission. He was an agitator in the best sense of the word. He quietly encouraged his students to question the racial status quo and to use their intellects to bring change to "the closed society."

Paul T. Murray
Professor of Sociology
Siena College
Loudonville, NY

Nina A. Hardy
I was delighted to see this documentary, on how two different cultures come together and recognize how human and civil rights are the common goals for those who have shared similar pain and tribulations in their past.

Jack Huberman
What a great service you've done by broadcasting this documentary. Very moving--so much so, it caught me off guard. Everyone in America should see it. (I'm 46, and only lately has it dawned on me how appallingly much the Confederate mentality lives on in this country. Even in Congress.) Good work.

Thank you for such a wonderful documentary. I saw it on channel 13 wnet in NYC. I hope that it is re-shown or that it be made available for community showings. How do we contact the filmakers to arrange for that? It also might be interesting to explore the home that Black Colleges gave to domestic Jewish refugees from Mc Carthyism, such as the historian Philip Foner, who taught at Lincoln University after he was balcklisted elsewhere.

The contact for community screenings can be emailed at

Sandy Sudweeks
Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone involved in this project. Astounding! And another thank you for the wonderful discussion guide and other related material on the website.

I teach Intercultural Communication in a Southern California college, and this semester I'm teaching a new course on Prejudice, Discrimination and Inclusion. The students, of various ages and ethnic backgrounds, are very motivated and passionately interested in the topics to be covered. I'll be showing this film in the next few weeks.

Though I have studied a broadly on episodes of prejudice and discrimination, this was a chapter in U.S. history of which I simply was not aware. I knew that Jews had played an active role in the Civil Rights Movement, but had never put two and two together. And I certainly never knew about the German Jewish professors in southern black universities.

What a wonderful, serendipitous outcome for two groups of people who were pushed together by discrimination. I'm humbled and deeply grateful for the humanity and strength of character that the people in this situation have shown.

Thank you, PBS -- I'm sending more $$$!.

Joyce Ladner
I am grateful that you have done a film that tells the story of Dr. Borinski who saw something in me something that was worthy of a bit of extra investment of his time and energy. I was not alone. He saw the same potential in countless Tougaloo students. I learned so much from him and I was exposed to people from outside our "closed" society that would not have been possible had he not organized his Social Science Forums. He taught us about the emerging nations of Africa in the Africa Study Group; he had us apply to Crossroads Africa; I met Margaret Walker-Alexander and Eudora Welty, Ralph Bunche and the sociologist Everett Hughes because he invited them to the campus. I think he would be a bit tickled with all the fuss that would have been made over him because of the film. We called Tougaloo the "oasis in the desert" and that was in part, because of Ernst Borinski and the other faculty who were committed to free speech.

John Wesley
Just a note to say thank you for including Ernst Borinski in your documentary " From Swastika to Jim Crow." I am a graduate of Tougaloo College (class of 1970.) It was Dr. Borinski who, after reading some of my early poetry and hearing me sing in high school, contacted me and asked me if I had thought of going to school at Tougaloo.

I informed him that I had sent an application to Job Corps, and was waiting to hear back about where I would be assigned. Dr. Borinski spoke with then Tougaloo College choir director, Ariel Lovelace who arranged an "acapella" audition for me in the chapel at Tougaloo College. After the audition, which Dr. Borinski attended, he spoke with Dr. Lovelace, and later called to inform me that I would be offered a four-year scholarship to perform with the Tougaloo College Concert Choir, and that I could major in Political Science and English Literature. I did, and the rest is history.


  • Readers Digest/ United Negro College Fund Ist Place winner Poetry (1968)
  • Performed at Carnegie Hall (April 4, 1968) the night Dr. King was assassinated.
  • Received ISSP Fellowship to Yale University (1969)
  • Received Minority Journalism Fellowship to Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism (1972)

I could go on, but you catch my drift.

Over the next four years Dr. Borinski mentored, nurtured, guided, and counseled me through some of the roughest days of my young life. He hired me to do odd jobs for cash, put me on his payroll to help cover my books and other incidentals, he allowed me to come to his little apartment (which most of the time he left unlocked) for rest, food, and counsel whenever I needed it. He introduced me to writers such as Audre Lorde, Reed Whitmore, Milton Kessler, Isabella Gardner, Jay Wright, and Ralph Ellison. Dr. Borinski, also introduced me to role models I will never forget such as Julian Bond, James Silver, Silvio Bedini, George Ware, Willie Ricks, Claude Brown, Robert Moses, etc. Margaret Walker-Alexander, and poet Paul Blackburn.

I am now a published author (prose and poetry), and I am currently the Deputy Director of Communications for the Housing Authority of Baltimore City, the 5th largest housing authority in the nation.

I wouldn't be where I am today without such a special person like Dr. Borinski. I thank you for honoring him in your documentary.

John Wesley

Ralph Dumain
I was thrilled to learn that a documentary was made on this topic. I can't wait till it comes on TV. Some years ago I met Gabrielle Edgcomb and bought her book. It was a subject new to me then, but she did answer a long-standing question of mine: what was that photo I once saw of Albert Einstein surrounded by a room-full of young black people all about? I knew of Einstein's support for Paul Robeson's anti-lynching campaign, but this was a mystery to me. Gabrielle told me that Einstein had a gig as a guest teacher at Lincoln University. Anyway, I read the book and was thrilled: this was a righteous story that needed to be put back into historical consciousness. I am so grateful that now it can find a mass audience.

Dear Talkback,
I had always gotten along well with everyone.No matter what their race,creed or color had been.That was the way that I was raised.However, I find that,it is always possible to learn new things about others.This white film director had proven how we should be able to open our minds to experiences that are not always our own.
We can learn alot from one another,if we choose to do so.But,we cannot learn from one another,if we do not open up our minds,and,allow ourselves to learn. The more we learn,the more educated we become.Yes,it is very sad that,both the Black Community and the Jewish community cannot get along.It is disgraceful,when both races had endured so much torture and torment throughout their histories.
Thank God we live in a country,that can heal its wounds through time.In order to learn,we must allow ourselves the chance to listen. We must listen to what we say to one another,without offending each other. I find it so refreshing that,the Jews and the Blacks had joined forces in the l960's to fight for civil rights. I had found it to be a beautiful experience for both races.
God made us all different.We must learn to accept our differences. 0therwise,how can we accept who we are,on a personal level?

Dear Talkback,
Racism is not a new topic,because at one point in time or another, every race had experienced racism.Whether in this country,or in Europe. There will always be racism.No matter how well the races get along ,there will always be some left or right wing extremist,who will try to destroy the peace that is needed for everyone to get along.The Blacks and the Jews have experienced this,at different points in history. And yet,it is a sad fact,that these two groups of people,with so much in common cannot get along,because of some strained relationships in the past.

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