In early July Operation Understanding DC sent 31 African American and Jewish high school students from the DC area on a 25 day-long trip to learn about the great struggles–and the sweet victories–of Jews and African Americans who’ve fought for social justice in our nation‘s history.
“Our mission,” said Rachael Feldman, executive director of OUDC, “is to build a future generation of African-American and Jewish young leaders who will work together to eradicate racism, anti-Semitism and all forms of discrimination and to promote respect and understanding.”
The trip will take them to New York, then through North Carolina, Georgia and Alabama. They will visit churches and synagogues and meet with prominent civil rights leaders. The journey is part of a year long program designed to help young people learn to fight injustice and promote tolerance. According to Feldman, in the six months before embarking on the trip, the students in the program “dived intensely into each others religions and cultures” meeting for five hours every Sunday to discuss issues like slavery and the holocaust.
Before they left for the trip, said Feldman, the students “were bouncing off the walls with excitement.”
The annual program has been around since 1995, making this latest class the 13th group of kids to make the trip. Adam Yalowitz, completed the program last year and recently told the Washington Post, “Once you begin to think about what’s going on in the community, you can’t stop thinking about it …you want to act.”
This is why OUDC’s program, and other summer programs like it, are worth celebrating. By teaching young people about great civil rights victories from the past, and inspiring them to act now, they are ensuring that in the future there will be many more sweet victories.
This post was co-written by Michael Corcoran, a former Nation intern and freelance journalist residing in Boston. His work has appeared in The Nation, the Boston Globe and Campus Progress. he can be reached at www.michaelcorcoran.blogspot.com. Please send us your own ideas for “sweet victories” by emailing to [email protected]. We’ll also bring you news about other summer programs and camps designed to inform and inspire the next generation of activists, organizers and thinkers. So please let us know of programs and camps we should be featuring!