Cheyney University Faculty and Students Attend Community Freedom Seder

April 1, 2013

Left to right, Prof. Herbert Black, Marissa Gibbs, Dr. Lynn Green, Jennyfer Joseph, Monique Jenkins, and Fanta Murray.

Left to right, Prof. Herbert Black, Marissa Gibbs, Dr. Lynn Green, Jennyfer Joseph, Monique Jenkins, and Fanta Murray.



A contingent of Cheyney University faculty and students visited the National Museum of American Jewish History on March 28. Participants  Prof. Herbert Black, Marissa Gibbs, Dr. Lynn Green, Jennyfer Joseph, Monique Jenkins, and Fanta Murray had a guided tour of the exhibit "Beyond Swastika and Jim Crow: Jewish Refugee Scholars at Black Colleges." While there, they joined 250 people from the Philadelphia region, for the Community Freedom Seder. Set on the third night of Passover which celebrates the Israelites' exodus from slavery, the occasion was an opportunity for participants to share their views of freedom. 

Other faculty attending the Seder included Dr. Sebronette Barnes-Aborum, Dr. Norma George, Dr. Ivan Turnipseed and Dr. Patricia Jeppson.  Attendance at the event was generated by Dr. Green's RSO 304 sociology course, "Intergroup and Ethnic Relations."

The speakers at the Seder included David Acosta, Writer, Poet, Activist, and Cultural Worker, Deborah Block, Co-Artistic Director, Theatre Exile, Rev. Alfred T. Day, III, Pastor, Historic St. Georges United Methodist Church, Hon. David Oh, Councilman At-Large, Minority Whip, City Council of Philadelphia, Rev. Mark Kelly Tyler, Ph.D., 52nd Pastor, Mother Bethel AME Church, and Rabbi Arthur Waskow, Founder and Director, The Shalom Center; Author and leader of the original 1969 Freedom Seder.

April 4, 1969 was the first anniversary of the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr;  it was also the third night of Passover.  At the intersection of these two events, hundreds of people of all ethnic and religious backgrounds gathered in a church in the heart of Washington, D.C. to celebrate freedom. For the first time, the ancient Jewish story of liberation was intertwined with a current struggle for liberation: Black America’s fight for equal rights.

This monumental event is now known as the original Freedom Seder. Jews around the world are told they must teach the Passover story to their children, to the next generation. In 1969, leaders interpreted that message in the context of the Civil Rights Movement. They brought together a group of people from all backgrounds to celebrate a common desire and right: freedom.

Dr. Sebronette Barnes-Aborom had a most personal experience while touring the “Beyond Swastika & Jim Crow: Jewish Refugee Scholars at Black Colleges.”  As the professor stated: “My sister attended Tougaloo College in Mississippi where Prof. Ernst "Bo Bo" Broinski was a beloved and respected instructor.  She saw the exhibit when it was at Tougaloo during her class reunion last year.  I even saw a certificate from one of the religious institutions in the small town where my mother lives.  It was signed by a relative!” Dr. Norma George added, “It was indeed a rare occasion for fellowship with a diverse group of socially conscious and caring people.  I thoroughly enjoyed it, and made some great connections.”  Dr. Green hopes to continue to cultivate ties between the Museum and Cheyney regarding our shared interests in social justice and intergroup relations.