Coral Gables Museum's Beyond Swastika and Jim Crow exhibit
“This exhibit explores the deep relationships that formed between two disenfranchised groups that each experienced racism firsthand -- Jews fleeing Nazi Europe and African-Americans in the South living during Jim Crow,” said Christine Rupp, Executive Director of the Coral Gables Museum. “The exhibit and its surrounding activities and programs will give the South Florida community an opportunity to learn about these remarkable teachers and students and how they reacted to the discrimination they faced.”
Inspired by Gabrielle Simon Edgcomb’s landmark book, From Swastika to Jim Crow: Refugee Scholars at Black Colleges and the subsequent PBS documentary by Joel Sucher and Steven Fischler, the exhibit has enjoyed a successful run at the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust in New York City and a national tour that brought the exhibition to such venues as the Dusable Museum of African American History in Chicago; the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Skokie, IL; the William Bremen Jewish Heritage Museum in Atlanta, GA and the National Museum of American Jewish History in Pennsylvania.
“The advent of Nazism in Germany in the 1930s’ resulted in the dismissal of a large number of Jewish scholars from their posts in German universities. Ostracized and dispossessed, they sought refuge and professorships beyond the borders of their estranged homeland. Some succeeded in their search; many perished in the Holocaust," said Asher Z. Milbauer, director of the FIU Exile Studies Program in the Department of English. "The exhibit tells a compelling story of Jewish exiled professors who found refuge and employment in historically black colleges. It celebrates the triumphs of intellectual reciprocity between these professors and their African-American students. The exhibit will serve as a genuine teaching moment by lauding the benefits of mutual understanding and by extolling the moral and ethical values of hospitality and acceptance of the other.”
Beyond Swastika and Jim Crow will be presented in the Museum’s spacious Fewell Gallery. The Museum will host group tours of the exhibit and train docents from FIU and local Jewish and African-American community members to guide visitors and explain the exhibit’s highlights and artifacts. The exhibit tells the story of Jewish academics from Germany and Austria, who were dismissed from their teaching positions in the 1930s. After fleeing to America, some refugee scholars found positions at historically black colleges and universities in the Jim Crow South. The exhibit further explores what it meant to the students to have these new staff as part of their community, how the students were affected by their presence, and what life was like for white, European Jews teaching at black colleges and universities. It also examines the empathy between two minority groups with a history of persecution, some of who came together in search of freedom and opportunity, and shared the early years of struggle in the Civil Rights movement.
Associated educational programs during the exhibit include panel discussions at the Museum with Jewish and African-American scholars such as:
· “Lessons and Legacies from ‘Beyond Swastika and Jim Crow” featuring Professor Guy Stern of Wayne State University, Professor Alan Berger of Florida Atlantic University, Playwright Jacqueline Lawton and a local historian. They will examine the evolution in American thinking about race based on the experiences highlighted in the exhibit. The event takes place on Sunday, October 19 from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m.
· “The Jewish Experience in South Florida” featuring Professor Paul George of Miami Dade College takes place on Thursday, November 13 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Sponsored in part by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture, with the support of the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council, the Miami-Dade County Mayor and Board of County Commissioners and the City of Coral Gables.
Beyond Swastika and Jim Crow: Jewish Refugees at Black Colleges was created and is circulated by the Museum of Jewish Heritage - A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, New York City. The exhibit is made possible through major funding from the Leon Levy Foundation. Additional support provided by the Helen Bader Foundation; The Lupin Foundation, The Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation; The Shepard Broad Foundation; public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency; the Alperin Family Foundation; and the Charles and Mildred Schnurmacher Foundation.
About The Coral Gables Museum
The Museum’s mission is to celebrate, investigate and explore the civic arts of architecture and urban and environmental design, including fostering an appreciation for the history, vision, and cultural landscape of Coral Gables; promoting beauty and planning as well as historic and environmental preservation for a broad audience, including children, families, and community members, as well as local, regional, national and international visitors. The museum optimizes its mission by cultivating effective partnerships, and providing programming that includes exhibitions, collections, educational offerings, lectures, tours, publications and special events. For more information about educational programs or volunteering, visit www.coralgablesmuseum.org.
About Florida International University
Florida International University is recognized as a Carnegie engaged university. Its colleges and schools offer more than 180 bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral programs in fields such as engineering, international relations, architecture, law and medicine. As one of South Florida’s anchor institutions, FIU is Worlds Ahead in its local and global engagement, finding solutions to the most challenging problems of our time. FIU emphasizes research as a major component of its mission. FIU has awarded 200,000 degrees and enrolls 50,000 students in two campuses and three centers including FIU Downtown on Brickell and the Miami Beach Urban Studios. FIU is a member of Conference USA and has 400 student-athletes participating in 18 sports. For more information about FIU, visit http://www.fiu.edu/