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Feb. 11th Lecture Will Look at Common Struggle for Civil Rights by Blacks and Jews University News
For release: February 3, 2010

For press information, contact Jonathan Judaken, 901-488-7475

In recognition of Black History Month, the Marcus W. Orr Center for the Humanities at the University of Memphis will host the lecture "Blacks, Jews, Civil Rights: Conflict and Communion” by Eric Sundquist on Feb. 11 at 7 p.m. in the Rose Theatre Entertainment Lobby. A reception will begin at 6 p.m. The evening's activities are free and open to the public.

Sundquist, Foundation Professor of Literature at UCLA, has either written or edited 10 books on American literature and culture. He will discuss the collaborative efforts of blacks and Jews during the civil rights movement. Because both groups were minorities seeking equal rights in American society, they often joined forces in hopes of gaining ground.

 Eric Sundquist
Eric Sundquist
In the introduction to his book Strangers in the Land: Blacks, Jews, Post-Holocaust America, Sundquist said the relationship between the two ethnic minorities was "critical to the cause of civil rights.” He also points out that as often as blacks and Jews were allies, this was also coupled with an antagonism that was sometimes hidden and other times overt. He says there were many reasons for this, and his lecture will touch on them.

Sundquist recently received the Andrew W. Mellon Distinguished Achievement Award, the most lucrative award given in the humanities, to further his work on the Holocaust&rsquos impact on American literature. His other books include King's Dream: The Legacy of Martin Luther King's 'I Have a Dream’ Speech, a New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice published last year, and To Wake the Nations: Race in the Making of American Literature, which received both the James Russell Lowell Prize from the Modern Language Association for the best book published in 1993 and the Choice Outstanding Academic Book Award.

More information about these events or any of the programs of the Marcus W. Orr Center is available online at

For specific questions, call Jonathan Judaken at 901-488-7475.

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