Two Sides of the River: Memory Preservation of the Civil Rights Movement by the Jewish Community of Selma, Alabama


Amy Milligan (Old Dominion University)

Tasked with interpreting their synagogue’s involvement with the Civil Rights Movement, the last three Jews of Selma, Alabama recognize that the Jewish voice in their city is rapidly disappearing. This paper problematizes the assumption that Jewish Selmians experienced the marches and Bloody Sunday in the same way as white citizens. Through an ethnographic analysis of the folk narratives retold by the community, this paper probes the Jewish community’s feelings of emotional precarity. How can memory and legacy be molded and shaped through truth telling for communities with troublesome histories, offering a story much larger than that of a single synagogue?

Part of 05-12 Contemporary Jewish Folklore: Re-Thinking Community Practices and Identity, Friday, October 14, 10:30 am–12:30 pm