In 1982, a group of concerned citizens from Atlanta's Black and Jewish communities came together to campaign for the renewal of the Voting Rights Act. The drive to renew one of the most important pieces of civil rights legislation in U.S. history reinvigorated the bond between the two communities. Those involved decided to create a coalition to ensure that open dialogue and partnership between Blacks and Jews would continue in Atlanta.
Today, the Atlanta Black-Jewish Coalition has emerged as a central platform for Education, Outreach and Advocacy. As participation reaches new heights, the Coalition continues to build on its original mission by providing a forum for meaningful dialogue and action.
- Increase the understanding of and interaction between Jews and Blacks
- Respond on an ad-hoc basis with a definitive action to particular issues of concern to the Jewish and Black communities
- Provide a mechanism whereby each community can express its support for the critical issues of the other community
- Create public awareness for the work of the Atlanta Black-Jewish Coalition
The Marvin C. Goldstein Project Understanding Young Leadership Retreat
Atlanta's Black and Jewish communities have shared a unique relationship for many years, but this relationship has changed and evolved over time, as the challenges to each community have become more complex. Today, the historic bond between Blacks and Jews is not always understood. Today's young people did not personally witness or participate in the struggles of the Civil Rights Era. The stories of Black-Jewish cooperation are easily forgotten, particularly as there are few efforts to reinvigorate the relationship between the communities. Young leaders of both communities are steeped in their own issues and priorities. They may not know or understand the natural alliances that have long drawn Blacks and Jews together in pursuit of social justice.
Project Understanding was born from the combined experiences of the Atlanta Black-Jewish Coalition and the strong desire on the part of ACCESS, the young adult division of American Jewish Committee, to create an opportunity for young Black and Jewish adults to share experiences and develop meaningful relationships.
Beginning in 1989 and held every other year, Project Understanding has provided a unique opportunity for the young leadership of our community. It is a forum where people of influence can share and learn from each other, and can begin to tap into a network that has been critical to Atlanta's relative success in negotiating race relations for the last many decades.
Through a 24-hour retreat format, participants are encouraged to interact honestly and forthrightly about issues that affect each of their respective communities as well as those that affect both. The program includes exercises designed to encourage open exchange among participants. Participants quickly get past political correctness to engage in real conversation about issues that are often too hard to address. In addition, Project Understanding provides an environment in which friendships flourish between young people. Participation in the program is selective, and most Project Understanding alumni have continued to be leaders in various facets of the Atlanta community. Alumni include several corporate C.E.Os, many non-profit leaders, and a number of prominent political figures, including one Mayor of Atlanta, Mr. Kasim Reed.