Debating Civil Rights

Debating Civil Rights

Benjamin Jealous and Rabbi David Saperstein, president of the NAACP and director of the Religious Action Center, respectively, debated modern issues of civil rights in a discussion moderated by Lynn Cullen at Rodef Shalom Congregation Thursday, Oct. 28.

The well-attended event was part of Pittsburgh Area Jewish Committee’s annual meeting, and drew many members of both Pittsburgh’s Jewish and black communities.

Held in the synagogue’s main sanctuary, Cullen launched the discussion when she said, “It is a decidedly unpleasant topic we take up tonight. The increasing incivility of this nation’s public discourse and the consequences of that. Something has change, and it’s not good.”

That notion held true in Jealous and Saperstein’s remarks, as Jealous spoke on the right wing media’s attacks on the NAACP and Saperstein spoke largely on how only bipartisan civility could heal the nation’s current political and economic wounds.

“Putting the last few years aside, look back over the 20th century,” said Saperstein. “The Labor Movement, Womens’ Rights Movement, the Vietnam War Movement… Go down the list. All legislative achievements that took place in America took place because of a bipartisan coalition of decency on Capitol Hill. Not a single one happened because of a partisan vote.”

Read more about these leader’s powerful remarks in this week’s Chronicle.