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oh we're going to hear you i've been involved in lots of struggles other than the black struggle yet man that the iraq states well you know what well one of the things that i remembered about the rides was that i had grown up as a young girl young jew who lived through world war to an american i didn't know most of what was going on in europe that i knew more than most people in america and after the war i certainly knew a lot
more than most people american primitive the holocaust and so forth and so on an arm i had a chip on my shoulder and i have to admit this and i'm ashamed to admit it almost had a chip with regard to christianity europe wasn't totally christian continent and the people who murdered my people were all born christians they were born protestants are catholic germany was sixty five percent protestant thirty five percent catholic no end end and and one of the things that i really the freedom ride help me get over with my trip with regard to christianity that was so such wonderful christians on the trip that they really unfortunate black and white these ministers who came without one of them was a great man by the way robert mcafee brown was famous he was the only famous person in the group who got arrested with us he had been
on the cover of newsweek magazine as one of the great protestant theologian from the country he was professor at union theological seminary of theology had been one of that the main disciple of the great reinhold niebuhr that one of the greatest protestant theologians of the twentieth century and an eyesore that these guys where were motivated by their christianity to do the right thing they were motivated to go out in an m and m and landed and the people were suffering and exploited and sober out of their christianity just as i was motivated out of my judaism and i thought that would just beautiful and terrific and it really got me a little bit over my hang up would be weary of christians can the us and it has this great now we think there's a memoir of congress i think it did a couple of things one that we
spoke with said earlier it could drop the race question for that the front pages of american to the front page of all of the news commentary on television and radio and so for the second thing i think it it made americans more aware of the diversity of america which i also pointed out before or because of the freedom riders to wear white and black were christian and you were protestant that of every denomination not presbyterian methodist baptist lutheran etc etc o r and the r i think that thirdly it brought mom violence to the centre of american life america has not been a non violent country and from our breath when one he'll these colonists came to this country and started fighting with the indians and so forth with an absolute genius and julie farmer of core i was also very much
devoted and dedicated to non violence both of them had read down the aisle both of them recognize that jesus or the prince of peace and our i remember when dr king came out against the war in vietnam and an and lyndon johnson would not speak to him ever again he had entre to the white house before that and not many black leaders in america didn't know stockard channing for coming out against the war in vietnam they said listen that's not our issue are assures us just wade jewish leaders frequently say listen blacks are not our interview we wish them well and so forth and so on dr king said we're a first class americans of where first class americans we have a right to speak on every issue when that somebody who is limited to one issue us and nothing else in america and god bless him i mean i haven't known pheromone a great memoir life on a monthlong up a little bit now
but but to dr king was incredible incredible guy and i really thank god that i have the privilege of knowing him personally that it spoke in my congregation twice at cetera et cetera well why is that you just talk briefly about the significance of god to this whole thing you know is i don't see you know on which are great guys and then dies in the process and you take a look at selma when after the sunday with the gas and the horses and the billy clubs at the pettis bridge dr kinney as clergy to come to selma and i flew down and on tuesday dr king led us across the bridge again two
days after the sun that dr king would not there that's on that he was on the bridge in ebony the baptists are are we we crossed the pettis bridge and dr king stop that's because the the state police were were lined up there the way they were two days earlier where the horses and everything else and dr king has everybody knew except to people the two people have not a new ralph abernathy and so i'd sneak off and the pandemic of youth see the solo part of eyes on the prize including the book you'll see two people standing and everybody else including burger king meal and i'm one of the two guys standing dr king as theatergoers to deliver prayers and he wanted you know a christian and the jew to deliver the person we're an evening the best of all the rabbis so who were there there were other avenues and so i'd delivered a pram and dr king turned us around and we went back to the brown memorial chapel and snake denounce
dr king at that time for selling out so for them what they didn't understand is that frank johnson the federal district court judge had said that the day before had said he was going to issue a ruling within a week on whether the march was whether the state had a right to stop the march one the governor wallace what was the governor then of the george wallace the governor of alabama at a right to stop the march and that putin didn't want the march to be illegal and he was right you're right again business and i think
that more on this k gandhi was an extremely influential and his teachings both on dr king on june former on others who were very very involved in the race struggle before the race struggling america he ever came to the the front pages of the newspapers and so forth remember dr king was nineteen years old when gandhi was assassinated so that they they overlapped the gandhi was assassinated i think degenerate forty eight dr king were born in january january fifteenth twenty nine nineteen years old and he already had a graduate of morehouse i think at that point you have to understand that moore hundred k gandhi talk on what was considered the greatest empire in all of history one quarter of the birds was when i was a kid was color pink that was the color of the british empire the roman empire went nowhere near that in its day and
gandhi took it on with the tissues of nonviolence of oil all and and he beat them he pretends it got independent for four hundreds of millions of people and so forth through an anti gun these teachings had a profound influence on the aw aw early leadership of the civil rights movement jane fonda was the head of core and an who initiative inaugurated the freedom rides was a disciple of ghandi the way he was a disciple of jesus the way that you know an end and vague i understood that the only way it could be done in america is through peaceful protests active yes ma'am and because that would turn the american public against the moment they would get it would just compounded their
their stereotype blacks are violent blacks are criminals wax or whatever blacks are supposed to be and so solemn and so that it was just a stroke of genius in my opinion and the freedom rides illustrated that the people got beaten did not strike that the people get beaten did not that have weapons with them the people would be did that sticks in and billy clubs away the pickled beets and didn't so it took a lot of courage and by the way there were many people in the in the african american community you objected to the non violent border movement you know every every movement as its divisions coming all jews don't agree with each other and all and nobody agrees with each other you know the whole group so i'm not one hundred percent and arsenic started out as the student nonviolent coordinating committee was given by the southern christian leadership conference with the usual and originally of the
sclc with dr king founded in with a snake turned against dr king in his last years so that there were people in the black community who said only through violently white hate mongers understand it would not have worked it was not i repeat it was genius on the part of the cause of aging farmers and the and the byard rustin send the others were devoted three years before nineteen sixty one to the occasion of nonviolence one last question is afraid to pick apples around is creator of the beloved community within dr king a calling that phrase has the court that phrase i have a dream of its entrants a car and he was speaking of the ideal community what jews called a messianic dream or the messianic community
off we all have a sort of a picture of what the world ought to be instead of what the world is and dr king understood that each of us has to do as much as we can to change the is into the vault will never quite get to the op that were human beings we're not gone and we're we will always fall short of being perfect obviously what we can chew or do a lot better than we normally do at dr king was constantly prodding us to that and all the other civil rights leaders were doing the same in judaism we call it the corn all are repairing the world are making in other words to get going there were lots of terrible things about the world let it be said when you die that at least in some areas you make a small contribution the making the world a better place a
less debt place than it was when you were born and that's what the beloved community was the beloved community was was that the community that want to be and that has a small locally is now that has already reached that stage and that small nucleus has to try to expand that extended teachings so that we get closer to the ultimate book that the beloved community
American Experience
Freedom Riders
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Interview with Rabbi Israel Dresner, 2 of 2
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Episode Description
Rabbi Israel Dresner was on the Interfaith Freedom Ride: Washington, DC to Tallahassee, Florida, June 13-16, 1961
Race and Ethnicity
American history, African Americans, civil rights, racism, segregation, activism, students
(c) 2011-2017 WGBH Educational Foundation
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Chicago: “American Experience; Freedom Riders; Interview with Rabbi Israel Dresner, 2 of 2,” WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed July 19, 2024,
MLA: “American Experience; Freedom Riders; Interview with Rabbi Israel Dresner, 2 of 2.” WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. July 19, 2024. <>.
APA: American Experience; Freedom Riders; Interview with Rabbi Israel Dresner, 2 of 2. Boston, MA: WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from