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.
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.
The November Black-Jewish Dialogue focused on the economic impact of COVID-19 on our communities. With participants from coast to coast, Bermuda and Hungary, the dialogue has grown from a local Chattanooga initiative to a global discussion. Hosted by Chattanooga’s Mizpah Congregation in partnership with the American Diversity Report, the dialogue began in August of this year with monthly virtual sessions. Many thanks to Dr. Gail Dawson, Dr. Les Petrovics, and John Miles for sharing their expertise and experience with us.
Presenters for this Black-Jewish Dialogue session included Beverly Coulter, Pastor William Hicks, and Dr. Frank Miller with facilitators: Rabbi Craig Lewis of Mizpah Congregation and Deborah Levine, ADR Editor. The discussion included descriptions of the healthcare challenges facing the African-American community and the Jewish community, as well as mutual challenges in the COVID-19 era.
The conversation included local, national and international perspectives on the healthcare equity picture:
The incidences of specific diseases in each community through genetics and/or economics
The affect of the environment on our health
Local and federal policies affecting health and healthcare
Food and nutritional challenges
Options that communities and religious organizations can consider implementing or intensifying
Chattanooga’s Black-Jewish Dialogue
CULTURAL EXCHANGE: MUSIC
See what our dialogue members have chosen to share as their favorite iconic cultural expressions. The list will include: Poetry, Recipes, Humor, Readings, Movies/TV and begins with Music. CLICK for more information about our dialogue.
The ADR Black-Jewish Dialogues began in the summer 2020 and quickly went global. The virtual dialogues are held from 4-5:00pm ET on the 2nd Sunday of each month.
CLICK on video to hear the presentation by Deborah Levine for Chattanooga’s Mizpah Synagogue that initiated the ongoing dialogues. Hear the video and see excerpts of the transcript.
Scroll down for recent Dialogues and REGISTER to join us and receive the Zoom link.
TRANSCRIPT EXCERPTS: It’s a true challenge to talk about issues involving African Americans and Jews in these turbulent times. The murder of George Floyd and COVID-19 have put a spotlight not just on monuments and law enforcement, but also on festering issues of economic, social and healthcare inequities. The issues echo the 1960s civil rights era but with the internet, terminology, quotes, memes and comments are constantly morphing. And spreading. Two weeks ago, a Black-Jewish woman messaged me, worried about how the words of Louis Farrakhan were being blending with those of local White Supremacists. (See Farrakhan) Will the words of our nonviolent sixties icons, James Baldwin and Martin Luther King Jr., successfully counteract this trend? I hope that celebrating the life of the civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis will re-emphasize the impact of non-violent activism. (See John Lewis)
As a young girl, I lived in a middle-class Black community surrounded by people who made me feel that I was incredible and could do anything I set her mind to. It was a recipe for constant conflict with a racist, sexist society and its institutions throughout the rest of my life.
Deborah: Sadly, I’m watching yet another evacuation of a Jewish center on TV. I know what it’s like to oversee an evacuation during a bomb threat. I was in charge of security at a Jewish agency in Chicago, was trained by the FBI in security after the Oklahoma City bombing, and oversaw the design for a secure Jewish Community Center in Chattanooga.