Black-Jewish Dialogue originating in Chattanooga, Tennessee. A monthly virtual discussion of issues important to the African American community and the Jewish community locally, nationally and internationally.
Hear the conversation about equity of education from these experts based in Chattanooga, Tennessee. This podcast is part of the ADR Black-Jewish Dialogues and is the September back-school episode.
Ardena Garth Hicks: Education Activist
Ardena is a Hamilton County native and practicing attorney who is the 2020 Legal Aid Society Pro Bono Attorney of the Year. She is a member of the Hamilton County Partnership Network Board of Directors, appointed by TN Education Commissioner Candace McQueen. The Partnership’s charge is to “review the progress of the five schools in the Partnership Network- which have been deemed priority schools by the state…and make recommendations to the Hamilton County Board of Education and Network leadership to support students’ growth and development.”
She is President of Chattanooga Endeavors, Inc., a non-profit organization which advocates for the interests of citizens repatriating from incarceration. Ardena previously was Special Prosecutor for Child Abuse cases with the Hamilton County District Attorney’s office. She served as Hamilton County’s first elected District Public Defender from 1990 to 2014 (3 successive 8-year terms), having been appointed to the newly-created position by Gov. Ned McWherter in 1989. Ardena graduated as a Ooltewah HS valedictorian, earned her bachelor’s degree at Middle TN State U. and earned her Juris Doctor (JD) degree from the U. of Kansas.
Dr. Jill Keegan Levine: Education Administrator
Jill is the Chief of Innovation and Choice for Tennessee’s Hamilton County Schools, a district of over 45,000 students. Prior to this role, she served as the Chief of the Opportunity Zone, a learning community focused on turnaround of the twelve highest needs schools in the district, as well as serving previously as the Chief Academic Officer of the school district.
After graduating from Wellesley College with a double major in Music and History, Jill began her career teaching 3rd grade and directing musical theater productions in the New Orleans Public Schools. She was the principal of Normal Park Museum Magnet, a Chattanooga Pre-K through 8th grade school, for 14 years. She led the transformation of two low performing schools into award winning, innovative, exciting and challenging places of learning. In 2012, Jill was recognized as the National Magnet Schools Principals of the Year. From 2013-2015, she served in the Obama administration as the first full time Principal Ambassador Fellow at the US Department of Education. In that capacity, she worked closely with Secretary Arne Duncan to increase the department’s focus on the importance of school leadership.
Marilyn Kallet recently served two terms as Knoxville Poet Laureate, 2018-2020. She has published 18 books, including How Our Bodies Learned, The Love That Moves Me and Packing Light: New and Selected Poems, Black Widow Press. She translated Paul Eluard’s Last Love Poems and Benjamin Péret’s The Big Game.
Dr. Kallet is Professor Emerita at the University of Tennessee. From 2009-2020, she mentored poetry groups for the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, in Auvillar, France. Her poetry has appeared recently in Plume and American Diversity Report.
Maria James-Thiaw is a poet, performer and an educator from Central PA. She has written three poetry collections and her poetry has been published by Cutthroat Journal of the Arts, Love Your Rebellion and other journals. Her choreopoem, Reclaiming My Time: An American Griot Project debuted in Summerdale, PA in 2018 to 6 sold out audiences. She won the Art of Protest Poetry Prize from Penn State for works from that production. In 2020 she created a Zoom version entitled RMT 2.0. This performance poet attended Marilyn Kallet’s workshops in France in 2011 and 2015. Maria is a graduate of Goddard College’s MFA in Creative Writing Program and she is the Program Coordinator of Creative Writing for CASA, Capital Area School for the Arts in Harrisburg, PA.
American Diversity Report, Chattanooga News Chronicle, Mizpah Congregation, Jewish Federation of Greater Chattanooga, C.U.R.B. – Citizens Uprooting Racism in Bermuda.
Candy Johnson: Before becoming President and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Chattanooga in January of 2021, she served as a senior advisor to Chattanooga Mayor Berke. She led community-focused initiatives to create sustainable partnerships and external investments to advance the administration’s economic, racial and social equity agenda with the goal of improving community quality of life. Johnson also led the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Alliance in partnership with Bloomberg Associates and co-created the Styles L. Hutchins Black College Student Fellowship. A native of Clarksville, Tennessee, Johnson was the youngest member ever elected to public office for the Clarksville City Council.
Michael Dzik: Executive Director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Chattanooga since 2001. Much of Michael’s work focuses on community relations, bringing together people of all faiths, cultures and backgrounds to find common ground and understanding while building strong connections and friendships. Through programs such as the Jewish Film Series, exhibits, speakers, and multi-faith panels, the Jewish Federation works to connect all of our Chattanooga community.
Curiosity is a good thing. For those of us who are curious about the ancient world and have a need to discover the source and unearth the past to make sense of our present world, a museum ticket is our gateway to other worlds!
My curiosity led me to uncover the mystery of the word museum or mouseion (Greek) meaning the seat of the muses. In Greek mythology the nine muses were held in high esteem. The Merriam-Webster dictionary attributes the inspiration for song, poetry, the arts, and sciences to these sister goddesses. The Muses were to be enshrined in these edifices as a source of inspiration. According to Britannica.com, a mouseion was built to be a designated institution for philosophical discussion and contemplation. It was intended to be a place of learning and the arts. Continue reading The He(Art) of the Museum – by Cindy Steede Almeida→
The monthly Black-Jewish Dialogues began in Chattanooga virtually in July 2020 and quickly spread across the USA and internationally. As our communities progress in understanding each other, we explore new topics each month. History is frequently an underlying theme.
Our Black-Jewish Dialogue for January 2021 featured presenters Mike Green and Dov Wilker. Many thanks to them and Mizpah Congregation, our co-host.
Mike Green is an award-winning journalist headquartered in Colorado. He is the Chief Economic Strategist for The National Institute for Inclusive Competitiveness (niicusa.org) and also co-founder of Common Ground Conversations on Race in America.
He is also co-founder of ScaleUp Partners LLC, a nationally networked consulting practice focused on changing the nation’s economic narrative.
Dov Wilker is the National Director for. Black-Jewish Relations for the American Jewish Committee and heads the AJC Atlanta Regional Office with the goal of enhancing the well being of the Jewish people worldwide and advancing human rights and democratic values in the United States and around the world. The office has worked with the Atlanta Black-Jewish Coalition for nearly 35 years.
Dr. Janét Aizenstros is a signatory with the United Nations Business Action Hub (UNBAH) for the United Nations Global Compact Network. She is an award-winning businesswoman with several leadership awards such as the Top 40 under 40, a recipient of the 2020 WXN Canada’s Most Powerful Women Entrepreneur Award: Top 100, the Stevie® Award winner for Female Entrepreneur of the Year Canada. She also received Employer Of The Year for Canadian Business which ranked her company 12th on Canadian Business ’s 2020 Growth List. Thus, she became the first Black Canadian woman in history to scale a 9-figure organization and sole female founder to be featured on the list.
Dr. Janét Aizenstros is also a member of the Young President’s Organization (YPO), a participant with Concordia Leadership Council and a Global Goodwill Ambassador for the Global Goodwill Ambassadors Foundation.
COVID-19 cases are on the rise and it’s upsetting to see the rising number of hospitalizations in so many states. It’s even more upsetting that the White House told Governor Lee to mandate the wearing of masks to head off a likely surge in Tennessee. But it’s downright horrifying that the governor didn’t discuss this publicly. The White House message was only discovered through a records request. Did Governor Lee hope that by hiding it, no one would find out?But we’re at a tell-all moment as the Supreme Court prepares to debate the Affordable Care Act. And there’s no hiding how the rush to affirm Trump’s Court nominee comes just in time to vote the ACA out of existence.
This is an invitation to the Jewish diaspora and the African diaspora to see and hear with their hearts, not their heads, and not even though the lens of religion or traumatic memory of the events that occurred over the past 500 years and beyond.
I have a desire to see us all whole again and embrace the undeniable and long hidden truth of our connectedness.The ancient bloodline between us is speaking and revealing itself.The Native Americans acknowledge this existence of “blood memory”.Native American Storyteller and Journalist, Mary Annette Pember shares the Ojibwe people’s definition of the blood memory in her article published in the Daily Yonder, 16 July 2010. “The Ojibwe understand that blood memory is their ancestral (genetic) connection to their language, songs, spirituality, and teachings.It is the good feeling they experience when they are near these things.”