The University of Michigan’s chapter of the Spill the Honey Foundation, an organization committed to telling the history of Black and Jewish civil rights alliances, screened the new film “Shared Legacies” Thursday evening. The documentary discusses the partnership between the Black and Jewish communities during the Civil Rights Movement. About 70 students and professors attended the screening.
The film highlighted how Jewish leaders supported Martin Luther King and the Black community’s efforts to combat segregation and racism in the 1960s. The film included prominent leaders such as members of the King family, Rabbi Alvin Sugarman and the late U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.).
After the screening, a panel discussed takeaways from the film.
Shari Rogers, director and producer of “Shared Legacies” and founder of Spill the Honey, said she was inspired to create the film to show how the Jewish community supported the Black community during the Civil Rights Movement.
Rogers said she understands how history can be difficult to talk about, but she thinks people should still share their experiences in order to promote further conversations in the future.
“When souls have been destroyed, no one wants to talk about it. It’s so painful,” Rogers said. “We have a shared responsibility to slowly come to terms with the importance of memory and talking about what we went through.”
Panelist and Rackham student Andre Ray said the film calls attention to the shared histories of the Black and Jewish communities while also providing an opportunity for connection in the present.
“(It’s) an opportunity to build a bridge with another community,” Ray said. “These communities have such a rich history and to witness it together, in the same room, is such a powerful point to move forward from on a campus like this.”
The third panelist, Business senior Blake Weissman, is the national youth president for the Spill the Honey Foundation. Weissman said Spill the Honey’s main motivation for screening the film was educating people about the connection between the Black and Jewish communities.
Weissman said they chose to screen the documentary at college campuses and schools because they believe it is especially important for youth populations to know this history.
“We’re bringing this to college campuses, we’re bringing it to high schools, we’re bringing it to middle schools,” Weissman said. “It’s not like it should be (taught). It needs to be taught. And that’s what we’re doing.”
In a group discussion after the panel, students shared their reactions to the film.
LSA sophomore Samuel Hausman-Weiss said the film screening was a great way to spark discussion about topics generally not spoken about. He said college students need to learn about new perspectives and the film screening promoted learning about the intersection between Black and Jewish histories.
“This is where it starts. It starts with a conversation,” Hausman-Weiss said. “I think that this is the best first step there has been in a while.”
Business junior Henrik Angelstig attended the event and said he found the film eye-opening. Despite being familiar with Black and Jewish history prior to the viewing, Angelstig said he had never actually learned about how the two groups worked together during the Civil Rights Movement.
“This has definitely been one of the most profound things I’ve ever watched,” Angelstig said. “Of course we have read about Black history and Jewish history in school, but I’ve never actually made a connection between the two. I’m just amazed at how blind I have been to that fact.”
Daily Staff Reporter Navya Gupta can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.