Shad Polier and the Civil Rights Movement

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To commemorate the end of Black History Month, our new intern Poorvi Buller looked through an American Jewish Historical Society (AJHS) collection of Shad Polier’s papers for quotes that are emblematic of this lawyer and activist’s commitment to protecting civil rights. Tomorrow, we will be tweeting these quotes out to remind all those in our community of the lasting significance of the civil rights movement, and the role that Jews have played in the fight for equality.


“We
are trying to put our ideals to work in the grass roots of our communities”

“Justice
is absolute and will always be absolute”

“All
races and religions realized the justice of that cause"

—Shad Polier, Symposium on Negro-Jewish Tensions transcript, April 7th 1966, AJHS Shad Polier Papers, Box 7 Folder 4


“An integral aspect of that program must be the adoption of positive means to eliminate racism in all of its forms”

“We prefer to extend democracy, rather than patch it up where it threatens to fall apart”

“We have sought to lead the march against discrimination, no matter what its form and no matter who its intended victim”.

—AJHS, Shad Polier Papers, Folder 15


A
graduate of the University of South Carolina, Polier was deeply disturbed by
the lynching, violence and racial oppression he saw around him and took it upon
himself to fight for fairness and equality in education, employment and
housing. A member of the National
Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Mr. Polier saw the fight for
racial equality as an “An American struggle–the struggle for human Equality
and human dignity” and eventually succeeded in enacting New York’s first Fair
Employment Practices Law. A member of the American Jewish Congress and a pillar
against racism and anti-Semitism, Polier and his legacy remind us that the
struggle for equality is one that requires inter-community dedication and
passion.

The Center would like to thank the American Jewish Historical Society for allowing us to post these quotations from its archival materials. More information on the Shad Polier Papers can be found here.

Shad Polier papers, P-572, 1916-1976, American Jewish Historical Society, Center for Jewish History, New York, New York.

 

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