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Examining the impact of the Holocaust on the American Civil Rights Movement; Lycoming welcomes historian Clive Webb

Examining the impact of the Holocaust on the American Civil Rights Movement; Lycoming welcomes historian Clive Webb

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Students and members of the Williamsport and surrounding communities are invited to hear Clive Webb, Ph.D., deliver a presentation on “The Holocaust and the African-American Freedom Struggle” on Oct. 24 at 4:30 p.m. in Mary Lindsay Welch Honors Hall, on the Lycoming College campus. Internationally recognized, Webb’s research analyzes the history of racial violence and conflict in America. The presentation is sponsored by the Lycoming College History Department, and is free and open to the public.

The lecture will draw a connection between the domestic struggle for racial reform with broader international forces by examining how the Holocaust helped shape the American civil rights movement. African-Americans drew parallels between Jim Crow and Nazi Germany almost immediately after Adolf Hitler assumed the chancellorship of Germany in 1933. They exposed the hypocrisy of white Americans who condemned the Nazi persecution of Jews while still tolerating violent discrimination against their own nation’s black population. Once the United States had taken up arms against the forces of fascism, black activists pressed even harder their comparison between Nazism and Jim Crow to warn that the United States was undermining the democratic ideals for which it was supposedly fighting. Following the war, African-Americans continued to evoke the Holocaust as a means to promote racial equality.

In the wake of the violence witnessed in Charlottesville, Va., the lecture will serve as a reminder of the need to protect democracy against the forces of extremism — not only abroad, but within its own borders.

Sarah Silkey, Ph.D., associate professor of history at Lycoming, believes that Webb’s lecture will benefit both students and members of the community equally. “Racism and white supremacy present challenges to realizing the full potential of our democratic ideals,” she stated. “African-American activists have been at the forefront of campaigns to combat the problems of racial inequality. Now is the perfect time for our community to begin a dialogue examining this history to better understand contemporary debates about racism and from where those debates originate.”

Webb is the author of “Fight Against Fear: Southern Jews and Black Civil Rights,” “Massive Resistance: Southern Opposition to the Second Reconstruction,” and “Rabble Rousers: The American Far Right in the Civil Rights Era.” He is co-author of, “Forgotten Dead: Mob Violence against Mexicans in the United States, 1848-1928.” Currently a professor of modern American history at the University of Sussex in Brighton, England, Webb has been interviewed on several national and international radio stations and television programs, offering historical context and commentary on current events in the United States.

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