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Jim Crow, The Holocaust, and Today

Recording of the Panel

Recording of the Panel

This is a recording of the Lillian E. Smith Lecture Series Panel "Jim Crow, The Holocaust, and Today." We apologize about any moments where the audio may be unclear.

In John A. Williams' Clifford's Blues, the protagonist Clifford Pepperidge is placed in Dachau in 1933 when the Nazis came to power. Originally from New Orleans and the United States, Clifford came to Europe to play music in the jazz scene, and he experienced freedom as a Black man. However, once the Nazis rose to power, he was arrested. Clifford writes in his diary from Dachau, “If you ain't for the Nazis, you're against them, and you wind up here. The South was like that. That's why I left.”

Individuals such as Lillian Smith, Kelly Miller, William Patterson, and more saw the links between the Jim Crow South and Nazi Germany. They pointed out, as Morehouse student Henry E. Banks did in April 1933, following the Nazi boycott of Jewish business, the need “to condemn the racial policies of Hitler and oppose injustice wherever it is found” and to recognize the same impulses in the United States. James Q. Whitman, in Hitler's American Model: The United States and the Making of Nazi Race Law points out how Nazi lawyers used Jim Crow laws to inform the Nuremberg Laws and more.

Through a panel discussion, “Jim Crow, the Holocaust, and Today” will explore the intersections between the Jim Crow South and Nazi Germany, discussing the historical context and also the importance of knowing this history for today. The panel will consist of Dr. Thomas Aiello (Professor of History and Africana Studies at Valdosta State University), Dr. Chad Gibbs (Director of the Zucker/Goldberg Center for Holocaust Studies at the College of Charleston) and Dr. Jelena Subotić (Professor of Political Science at Georgia State University).