Hillel International has announced a major initiative to mark the 50th anniversary of the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965 and other major civil rights achievements with special guest speakers and programming for students throughout the country, as part of Hillel’s commitment to Jewish learning and social justice.
“Countless Jews stood shoulder to shoulder with African Americans during this turning point in American history, and Jews the world over continue the tradition of fighting for social justice each and every day. Hillel International is proud to illuminate the struggles and achievements of those who walked before us, and to bring a renewed sense of awareness and possibility to students across the country,” said President and CEO Eric Fingerhut.
Hillel is working with authors, artists, historians, elected leaders, and organizations that helped to lead the civil rights movement to share their experiences with students and contextualize past experiences with contemporary issues. Throughout the spring semester, Hillel International will work with student leaders and field professionals to bring top-tier speakers to campus, and will encourage students to take part in other anniversary celebrations. This initiative will reach its peak this summer at Hillel Institute with dedicated sessions and VIP speakers.
“We are fortunate to have the opportunity to hear from people that lived this struggle, who experienced the transformation of the country first-hand,” said Sheila Katz, Hillel International Vice President for Social Entrepreneurship. “From the March on Selma to the Voting Rights Act and thousands of flash points in between, the activists of 1965 helped to reshape the country for the better, and it’s our hope that students will internalize the lessons learned in order to commit to furthering civil rights today.”