Jews have been an instrumental force in organizing African Americans as a political force that ended up serving Jewish interests by diluting the political power and cultural hegemony of White Americans. As mentioned previously in my Culture of Critique series, Jews do not fare well in ethnically homogeneous societies. By empowering African Americans politically, they can create division within US society along racial lines, thus lessening the likeliness of cooperation of Black Americans with White Americans in executing a possibly anti-Semitic agenda.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was founded in 1909. The original founders of the NAACP were actually a very diverse organization of individuals: W. E. B. Du Bois, Ida B. Wells, Archibald Grimké, Henry Moskowitz, Mary White Ovington, Oswald Garrison Villard, William English Walling, and Charles Edward Russell. Of that group, only Henry Moskowitz is Jewish. Many of the Whites who helped in founding the NAACP, along with its inaugural president, Moorfield Storey, were those pesky Puritans that Moldbug is always kvetching about. Oftentimes while examining Jewish involvement in intellectual or political movements, it is important to remember that they are not always 100% Jewish and will often have some Gentiles involved as well.
However, by the mid-1910s, the NAACP had several prominent Jewish members. Brothers Joel and Arthur Spingarn served as board chairman and chief legal counsel, respectively. Herbert Lehman served on the executive committee. Lillian Wald and Walter Sachs served on the board. Jacob Schiff and Paul Warburg were financiers for the organization. By 1920, Herbert Seligmann was director of public relations and Martha Greuning served as his assistant. Other prominent Jewish figures involved in the NAACP founding were Jacob Billikopf, Julius Rosenwald, Rabbi Emil G. Hirsch and Rabbi Stephen Wise. No wonder Marcus Garvey stormed out of the NAACP headquarters in 1917 complaining that it was a White organization.
Wealthy Jews were also contributors to the National Urban League as well. Edwin Seligman served as chairman and board members included: Felix Adler, Lillian Wald, Abraham Lefkowitz, and Julius Rosenwald.
Interesting to note is that the NAACP did not have its first Black president until 1975. The overwhelming majority of the presidents prior to 1975 were Jewish. Also, Jewish legal talent was harnessed on behalf of African American causes. Remember Louis Marshall from my immigration post "Who Opened The Borders"? Well, he was a principal attorney for the NAACP during the 1920s. African Americans played little role in these legal efforts. Until 1933, there were no African Americans in the legal department. Also, during the 1930s, over half of the NAACP legal team was Jewish.
In the post-WWII era, many Jewish organizations were involved in Black issues, like the AJCommittee, the AJCongress, and the ADL. In fact, Jews contributed two-thirds to three-quarters of the money for civil rights groups during the 1960s. The AJCongress played a leading role in drafting civil rights legislation and pursuing legal challenges related to civil rights issues mainly benefiting Blacks.
The interesting thing to note about Black-Jewish relations is that it has been a one-way street. Jews have been extremely influential in Black organizations and Black causes. However, blacks have been completely excluded from being involved in the inner workings of Jewish organizations. This is indicative that advancing Black interests via Black movements in the US has been instrumental in advancing Jewish interests as well.
To conclude, the Jewish role in African American affairs should be viewed as a movement in intergroup relations to eliminate prejudice and discrimination against racial, ethnic, and religious minorities. As with other movements with strong Jewish involvement, their aims have been very self-interested in preventing a mass anti-Semitic movement in the USA in order to prevent anudda shoah.
Friedman, M. 1995. What Went Wrong? The Creation and Collapse of the Black-Jewish Alliance.
Kaufman, J. 1997. Blacks and Jews: The struggle in the cities. In Struggles in the Promised Land: Toward a History of Black-Jewish Relations in the United States.
MacDonald, K. 1998. Culture of Critique.
Also published on Fanghorn Forest