April 20, 2023 @ 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Furman University, Furman Hall, McEachern Lecture Hall (Room 214)
3300 Pointsett Hwy
Greenville, SC
Furman University

Even before the passage of the Nuremberg laws in 1935 depriving Jews of citizenship and stripping them of basic civil rights, raised the alarm in Jewish circles, the Black press was quick to recognize the incipient threat.  Black organizations such as the NAACP and the National Urban League publicly condemned the persecution of Jews in Germany and warned against the spread of antisemitism closer to home.  Hitler was our “common concern” they argued, “because of the dramatic example he sets for other demagogues to follow in his sadistic footsteps.”

Once the United States went to war against Germany and Japan, Black Americans fought for the right to fight. They fought to defeat the greatest racial enemy on earth, and to conquer Jim Crow on the battlefield and the home front.  As the Germans retreated to defend Berlin, all black units including the 761st Tank battalion and the 183rd Engineer Combat Battalion entered the Dachau and Buchenwald concentration camps, coming face to face with the Nazi extermination of Europe’s Jews and the remnants of other peoples deemed unworthy of life by the crazed Nazi theory.  There was as yet no name for this crime, yet Black GIs from the South had something to compare to it.  “I didn’t know anything about fascism,” one soldier admitted, “but I know about lynching.” To him and his Black comrades, the murders they discovered were “lynching by the hundreds, lynchings by the thousands.”  These soldiers who had felt the closeness of death and experienced the shared humanity and love of the liberated were changed for good.  Their country would never be the same.

The 45-minute presentation will be followed by 15 minutes of moderated Q/A.