Film Screening and Director Q&A at the Center for Jewish History on April 17, 2019
The recent uptick in antisemitic, anti-immigrant, and racist rhetoric have created a burst of new interest in the acclaimed documentary, From Swastika to Jim Crow. Based on the book by Gabrielle Simon Edgcomb, the film tells the little-known story of two very different cultures, sharing a common burden of oppression. In the 1930s, German universities were some of the first targets of Nazi activity. Jewish professors and intellectuals who were able to immigrate to the United States faced an uncertain future. Confronted with antisemitism at American universities and a public distrust of foreigners, a surprising number sought refuge in a most unlikely place – the traditionally black colleges in the then- segregated South. Securing teaching positions, these scholars came to form lasting relationships with their students, and went on to significantly impact the communities in which they lived and worked.
Nineteen years after the film was originally released, the filmmakers, Steven Fischler and Joel Sucher, feel its message –that more binds us together than separates us - must be heard. They passionately believe that as long as racism and inequality exist in our society, there will be a compelling need to bring From Swastika to Jim Crow to a wider audience. One-hour screening followed by a panel discussion with the filmmakers, historian Charles L. Chavis, Jr., and moderated by the Schomburg Center’s Brian Jones.