From Swastika to Jim Crow
Directed by Lori Cheatle • Documentary • 2000 • 60 minutes
In the 1930s Jewish intellectuals who escaped Nazi Germany and immigrated to the U.S. faced an uncertain future. Confronted with anti-Semitism at American universities and a public distrust of foreigners, many sought refuge in an unlikely place-traditionally black colleges in the segregated South. Securing teaching positions, these scholars came to form lasting relationships with their students, and made significant contributions to the communities in which they lived and worked. Based on the book by Gabrielle Simon Edgcomb, From Swastika to Jim Crow tells the little-known story of two very different cultures sharing a common burden of oppression. The scholars found new meaning and purpose in their adopted homeland. Their students, benefiting from the knowledge brought to them by these refugees, were able to go on and develop their own academic careers. The video also highlights the role of African Americans, like Ralph Bunche, in securing positions for these refugee scholars at places like Howard University, Tougaloo College and Hampton Institute.