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National Center for Black-Jewish Relations


The Center, initially founded by Dillard’s fourth president, Dr. Samuel DuBois Cook, was established in 1990 to reduce hostilities that seemed to be emerging between members of the African American and Jewish communities at the time. The now relaunched center will not only address a re-emergence of those tensions, but it will also find points of harmony between the communities to create and inspire productive dialogue and programming.

Contact us to learn more about how you can activate on your commitments:

Students at Dillard University DU Day

In the News

January 17, 2024

Black-Jewish Relations: Coming Together to Fight Racism and Antisemitism with Rochelle L. Ford and Nadine Epstein

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day,  Dr. Ford was a guest on Moment magazine’s  for a conversation about why she made the decision to revitalize the National Center for Black-Jewish Relations 

Visit Moment Magazine to learn more

January 15, 2024

MLK’s Former Speechwriter: ‘We Are Trying to Save the Soul of America’

“Why?” King would ask.

“I hear your voice in my head. I hear your voice in perfect pitch,” Jones would respond. “So when I write, I can write words that accurately reflect the way you actually speak.”

Read full article here

From the President

President Statement of the Events in Israel and Gaza

End Hatred.

My heart pours out to Israel and the Jewish community here in America, who are experiencing the barbaric atrocities of Hamas terrorists and the fear and anxiety it produces, particularly because Jewish people are targets of hate.

End Antisemitism.

My heart pours out to Palestinians, who are, again, erroneously blamed for the terrorist acts by the Hamas extremists, who also oppress Palestians in Gaza, doing more harm to the struggle for freedom and autonomy.

End Prejudice.

My Black and Indigenous ancestors were oppressed people. Today, my family and I experience fear and hatred for being Black in America. When confronted with hurt and fear, it is easy and natural to give into the blind rage of hate. We resist harboring hatred.

Never condone terrorism or acts of violence toward others. Instead love humanity, value and respect the culture of all people.

Let peaceful progress prevail.

On behalf of Dillard University, our National Center for Black Jewish Relations, and my family, we ask that you stand together against terrorism, hate, antisemitism, racism, anti-arab sentiment and discrimination. Join us as we advocate for peace and progress.


Dr. Rochelle Ford, President

Dr. Ford Signature
Dillard University



When Dr. Samuel DuBois Cook became the president of Dillard, he set out to prepare his students for what he recognized to be “an increasingly competitive international and multicultural marketplace.” Focused on expanding students’ horizons, Cook created the Dillard University National Conference on Black-Jewish Relations in 1989. A year later, he would create the National Center for Black-Jewish Relations, making it the only center of its kind in the world.

It was Cook’s intention to “rejuvenate the Black-Jewish Coalition that was a driving force behind the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.” It was also Cook’s intention to expand students’ outlook on race relations while educating them about the understandings between African Americans and Jews. Recognizing that Dillard served as a representation of Black-Jewish relations, Cook dedicated the Avenue of the Oaks in honor of Rosa Freeman Keller, a Dillard trustee (1955-1998) and an advocate for racial equality in the city of New Orleans.

So appreciated were Cook’s efforts that he was named to the United State Holocaust Memorial Council by President Bill Clinton. He also received the Weiss Award from the National Conference of Christians and Jews for International Leadership. In 1999, Cook published “Black-Jewish Relations: Dillard University National Conference Papers 1989-1997.”

Black Jewish Relations book cover


Center Values

  • Love
  • Humility
  • Forgiveness
  • Grace
  • People over Politics
  • Intersectionality of identities
  • Diversity within Black and Jewish identities
  • Inclusion can only happen when diversity is respected and equity is a daily focus

Center Objectives

  • Create a welcoming environment for members of both communities to learn about and honor each other’s culture and history, engage in honest conversations even if difficult to hear, and work towards common goals
  • Promote understanding and acceptance
  • Combat prejudice and discrimination
  • Foster a sense of community between the two groups
  • Explore the intersectionality of being Black and Jewish (Jews of Color)

Center Pillars

Since January 2023, the Center has sponsored programs in all of its programming pillars Dialogue, Immersions and Amplification:

  1. Opportunities for Dialogue through media, meals, service, and thought-leadership events. This was achieved with the hosting of two documentaries and beloved dinners in New Orleans, and attendance at a conference at Brandeis University.
  2. Immersions, where individuals spent concentrated time living with others from Black and Jewish communities. This was achieved by traveling with a group of students to Israel, and 
  3. Amplification of voices and best practices developed by others including a train-the-trainer event designed to facilitate dialogue and healing, and to develop resources for sharing at conferences and via media.  This was achieved with the development of a website and establishment of partners. 
Unity dinner - two people talking


Reverend Brisbon

Upcoming Events

April Theme: Passover

Summer Theme: Abrahamic Family

TBA Israel Trip

TBA Civil Rights Trip

  • April 21, 2024: Closing Event – Preserving Rosenwald Schools Field Trip to River Road African American Museum
    Charter bus leaves MSJE at 1:30pmExhibit closes April 21st, 2024

Past Events


Dillard University Lawless Chapel
  • Abdullah Antepeli, associate provost, Duke University
  • Meredith Ainbinder, Chief of Staff and Senior Advisor to the President, Brandeis University
  • Warren Bell, communications consultant
  • Rev. Herbert Brisbon, chaplain, Dillard University
  • Aaron Bloch, JCRC/executive director, Goldring Family Foundation Center for Jewish-Multicultural Affairs;
  • Arnie D. Fielkow, former CEO, Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans;
  • Rochelle Ford, president, Dillard University
  • Ron Gubitz, executive director, Tulane Hillel
  • William “Bill” Hess, trustee, Dillard University
  • Kahlida Nicole Lloyd, founder, Mission Reconcile
  • Shari Rogers, president, Spill the Honey Foundation
  • Wendell Shelby-Wallace, special advisor, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Message from the President

Dear Constituent:

As I immersed myself in the history of Dillard prior to taking over the helm as the 8th president, one thing I knew we had to prioritize was the relaunching of the historic Dillard University National Center for Black-Jewish Relations, initially founded by the University’s 4th president, Dr. Samuel DuBois Cook. 

Under his leadership, from 1989 until 1997, the Center hosted national conferences and produced the book, “Black-Jewish Relations: Dillard University Conference Papers,” which President Cook edited. Cook went on to serve on the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, and was awarded the Alfred W. and Genevieve Weil Medallion by the Jewish Chautauqua Society for his efforts in building more harmonious relationships between the Black and Jewish communities.

The relaunched Center is committed to advancing the work of its precursor by developing new projects that build upon the teachings, conversations, and relationships of the original. True to its mission of cultivating leaders who live ethically, think and communicate precisely, and act courageously to make the world a better place, Dillard is committed to establishing the Center as a space for dialogue, learning, and mutual understanding between Black and Jewish communities. 

Rev. Herbert A. Brisbon, III, Dillard University’s chaplain, has been working diligently on the Center’s strategic plan, which introduces a wide range of programs, workshops, panel discussions, cultural events, and initiatives that promote dialogue and understanding between the Black and Jewish communities. 

Warmest Regards,

Dr. Ford

Visit the Office of the President

Dr. Ford, President Dillard University speaking with microphone

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Dillard University will be closed on Wednesday, June 19, in observance of Juneteenth and will reopen on Thursday, June 20, at 8 a.m.