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Dillard to relaunch National Center for Black-Jewish Relations

Lawless Memorial Chapel. Photo: Sabree Hill/Dillard University.

January 17, 2023
Contact: Eddie Francis, efrancis@dillard.edu 

NEW ORLEANS—Today, Dr. Rochelle Ford, the eighth president of Dillard University, announced the plans to relaunch the Dillard University National Center for Black-Jewish Relations, initially founded by Dr. Samuel DuBois Cook, fourth president of Dillard University, from 1974-1997.

The reinvigorated center will continue the work of the initial center which aimed to reduce hostilities that were emerging between members of the African American and Jewish Communities, but it also will have action projects that build upon the conversations and relationships formed through the Center’s programs.

“Possibly worse than in the 1980s, when Dillard established the National Center for Black-Jewish Relations, America is polarized, with a growing distrust and hostility toward each other in the Black and Jewish communities. Often the conflict is a result of a lack of knowledge, appreciation and understanding of the alliances of the Black and Jewish communities during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, as well as the shared history of genocide and social experiences,” said Ford. “Instead of letting differences separate our communities, Dillard wants to reestablish bonds through conversations, education and learning that result most importantly in courageous actions to improve our society.”

Joining Dillard in revitalizing the Center are:  Aaron Bloch, JCRC/executive director, Goldring Family Foundation Center for Jewish-Multicultural Affairs; Arnie D. Fielkow, outgoing CEO, Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans; Ron Gubitz, executive director, Tulane Hillel; William “Bill” Hess, trustee, Dillard University; Kahlida Nicole Lloyd, founder, Mission Reconcile; Wendell Shelby-Wallace, special advisor, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and Shari Rogers, president, Spill the Honey. 

Rev. Herbert A. Brisbon III, Dillard University chaplain, will help lead the Center’s planning committee’s efforts.

As part of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday celebration, Dillard University partnered with Spill the Honey to host a screening of the documentary “Shared Legacies” in addition to a panel discussion with national leaders discussing the film and the status of Black-Jewish Relations. The night before the screening, Bloch hosted a beloved community dinner where HBCU students, staff, faculty and alumni dined with civil rights leaders, the documentary’s directors, and other leaders in the Jewish community. The objective was for meaningful conversations to occur creating a ripple effect to make meaningful connections and change.

Under the leadership of Cook, from 1989 until 1997, the National Center for Black-Jewish relations, hosted national conferences and produced the book, “Black-Jewish Relations: Dillard University Conference Papers” which Cook edited. A classmate and friend of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Cook was greatly influenced in 1949 by his Jewish professor and mentor at The Ohio State University. Cook was on the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council and was presented the Alfred W. and Genevieve Weil Medallion Award by the Jewish Chautauqua Society for his efforts in building more harmonious relationships between the Black and Jewish communities.

About Dillard University
Dillard University is a historically Black institution that cultivates leaders who live ethically, think and communicate precisely, and act courageously to make the world a better place. Located in New Orleans, Dillard is a private faith-based liberal arts university that offers 22 majors and two certificate programs. Ranked 5th on 2021 The New York Times Overall Mobility Index and 14th in 2022 by Academic Influence for Best Colleges and Universities by Academic Stewardship, Dillard’s call to future leaders is to Write Your Legacy. Find out more about Louisiana’s oldest HBCU by visiting www.dillard.edu.