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.
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.
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 online Black-Jewish Dialogues began in the summer 2020 and quickly went global. The monthly Dialogues were recorded, and placed on individual pages in the American Diversity Report as ongoing resources.
CLICK on video to hear the presentation by Deborah Levine for Chattanooga’s Mizpah Synagogue that initiated the Dialogues. Hear the video and see excerpts of the transcript.
Scroll down for links to the Dialogues and related podcasts.
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.