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Historians to Speak at Albany Movement Celebration

By   /   November 10, 2011  /   Comments


Special to the Journal



Three historians from New York and Texas will share their expertise with southwest Georgians as the Albany Civil Rights Institute (ACRI) celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the Albany Movement this month. On the opening night of the week-long anniversary celebration – Saturday, November 12 – Professsor Hasia Diner at New York University will discuss the relations between Jewish Americans and African Americans during the civil rights movement. The following night – Sunday, November 13 – Professors Emilye Crosby (State University of New York at Geneseo) and Todd Moye (University of North Texas) will discuss what historians have gotten wrong about the Albany Movement and how local studies can help us get it right. Both Saturday and Sunday night sessions will be followed by book signings.

Hasia Diner, the Paul S. and Sylvia Steinberg Professor of American Jewish History at New York University, has published a number of works in Jewish American history including In the Almost Promised Land: American Jews and Blacks, 1915-1935 (Johns Hopkins University Press). Her ACRI presentation on the relationship between Jews and African Americans during the civil rights movement, is made possible by a Kovler microgrant from the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism and the support of the local Temple B’nai Israel Congregation. “The goal of bringing Professor Diner to Albany,” said Temple B’nai Israel member Gail Greenfield, “is to develop a greater understanding of the immense Jewish commitment and involvement in the civil rights movement as well as the ongoing Jewish activism in this arena. Unfortunately many in the African American and Jewish communities are unaware of these past or current efforts and the Black-Jewish relationship in this community is indifferent at best.” ACRI executive director Lee W. Formwalt anticipates “a discussion of both the positive and negative aspects of the long history of Jewish-Black relations leading to a deeper understanding on the part of members of both communities.” A book signing of In the Almost Promised Land will follow Professor Diner’s presentation. Copies of the book are available in the ACRI gift shop for $25.00.

Emilye Crosby, Professor of History at SUNY Geneseo, has written a prize-winning study of the civil rights movement in Claiborne County, Mississippi (A Little Taste of Freedom: The Black Freedom Struggle in Claiborne County, Mississippi) and edited a collection of essays on the relations between local movements and the national civil rights movement (Civil Rights History from the Ground Up: Local Struggles, a National Movement). J. Todd Moye, Associate Professor of History at the University of North Texas, was director of the Tuskegee Airmen Oral History Project at the National Park Service and currently directs the UNT Oral History Program. His books include Freedom Flyers: The Tuskegee Airmen of World War II and Let the People Decide: Black Freedom and White Resistance Movements in Sunflower County, Mississippi. Both Crosby’s and Moye’s first books deal with local movements in Mississippi and both have written about Albany in Crosby’s Civil Rights History From the Ground Up. In their presentation at ACRI, Crosby and Moye will analyze the tension of dealing with Albany as a local movement versus dealing with it as part of the national civil rights movement. A book signing of Civil Rights History from the Ground Up will follow Professors Crosby’s and Moye’s presentation. Copies of the book are available in the ACRI gift shop for $27.00.

Hasia Diner’s presentation, “If I Am Not for Myself: If I Am Only for Myself: Jews and the Civil Rights Movement,” will begin at 7:00 p.m., Saturday, November 12. Emilye Crosby’s and Todd Moye’s presentation, “What Have Historians Gotten Wrong About the Albany Movement? How Can Local Studies Help Us Get it Right?” will begin at 7:30 p.m., Sunday November 13. Both presentations will be held at ACRI, 326 Whitney Avenue, Albany. They are free and open to the public.

The presentations by Hasia Diner, Emilye Crosby, and Todd Moye are part of ACRI’s celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Albany Movement. The weeklong Anniversary series of evening events begins Saturday, November 12th and concludes Friday, November 18th. Besides the three civil rights historians, presenters include five Albany Movement leaders and veterans. Two films about African Americans in southwest Georgia will premiere at ACRI during the anniversary week. A photographic exhibition, Memories of the Southern Civil Rights Movement: The Photography of Danny Lyon, also opened at ACRI on November 1. For a schedule of Anniversary events, see the events calendar at http://www.albanycivilrightsinstitute.org/.

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