HONORING JULIET FRANKLIN; Congressional Record Vol. 164, No. 109
(Extensions of Remarks - June 28, 2018)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Pages E948-E949]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]

                        HONORING JULIET FRANKLIN


                          HON. ROSA L. DeLAURO

                             of connecticut

                    in the house of representatives

                        Thursday, June 28, 2018

  Ms. DeLAURO. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honor Ms. Juliet Franklin 
on the occasion of her Bat Mitzvah and for her dedication to public 
service. Recent events in our nation have highlighted the social and 
political divide that we must all work to bridge. It is with great 
pride that I include in the Record the powerful words of Ms. Franklin, 
delivered on the day of her Bat Mitzvah.
  Mr. Speaker, while this speech not only calls us all to action to 
defend civil rights in our nation, this young lady's words also serve 
as a reminder that we must work to improve our society for our children 
and grandchildren.

                   Jews in the Civil Rights Movement

                          (By Juliet Franklin)

       Good morning. Thank you for coming.
       My B'nei mitzvah project is about Jews in the civil rights 
     movement. I decided to do this as my project because I am 
     really interested in history. One thing I seem to learn about 
     over and over again in history is how certain groups of 
     people get mistreated, and I think that is really unfair and 
     unjust. In English class, we read Warriors Don't Cry, a book 
     about integration in the civil rights movement, and it made 
     me sad and angry how African Americans were treated in our 
     country. I began to wonder what American Jews did to 
     participate in this movement and what beliefs caused them to 
     do so. I decided to look at this for my bat mitzvah.
       During the 20th century, many Jews joined the African-
     American community in their struggle for civil rights. This 
     is probably, in part, because certain Jewish principles are 
     important to the idea of civil rights. The belief that Jews 
     should do Tikkun Olam', an idea from a book of rabbinic 
     teachings called the Mishnah, says that Jews should do acts 
     of kindness to repair the world. Another important jewish 
     concept is Tzedaka, an idea derived from the hebrew word 
     ``tzedek'' or ``justice.'' From this principle, Jews are 
     directed to give Tzedaka, meaning justice or charity to those 
     who are in need. Finally, a central foundation in Judaism, 
     from Leviticus in the Torah, is to ``love your neighbor as 
     yourself.'' In our congregation, we believe that a neighbor 
     does not have to be determined by the person's actual 
     geography and that we can be loving, accepting, and 
     supportive of all people.
       Jews have their own long history of being discriminated 
     against and being denied rights because they were viewed as 
     different. These experiences of discrimination led many Jews 
     to fight for their own civil rights. It also led some Jewish 
     people to help African Americans in their fight for equality 
     because of the belief that everyone deserves to have freedom, 
     justice, and equality.
       One notable example of Jews' involvement in trying to 
     promote social change for African Americans was their help in 
     the development of the NAACP. At the start of the 20th 
     century, African Americans faced huge discrimination and 
     persecution in the U.S. They were subject to lynching and 
     other forms of mental and physical violence, often with no 
     efforts by the government to stop it. In 1908, things reached 
     a boiling point when two innocent African American men were 
     lynched in Springfield, Illinois by a white mob during what 
     became known as the Springfield riots. In the wake of these 
     riots, the NAACP was formed in 1909, and several Jewish 
     people are considered to be founders. For more than 100 years 
     and still today, the NAACP works to remove barriers in racial 
     discrimination through legal action and other democratic 
       Jewish people have also worked to improve long-standing 
     problems with educational opportunities for African 
     Americans, particularly in the South. An especially important 
     contributor was an American Jew named Julius Rosenwald, the 
     son of Jewish immigrants who became the President and then 
     Chairman of Sears, Roebuck, and Company, the equivalent of 
     Amazon.Com today.
       Despite his success, social justice for African Americans 
     became a large focus for him as he recognized that African 
     Americans and Jewish people shared an unfortunate experience 
     of discrimination. He said ``[t]he horrors that are due to 
     race prejudice come home to the Jew more forcefully than to 
     others of the white race, on account of the centuries of 
     persecution which they have suffered and still suffer.''
       Rosenwald turned his concern into action. Between 1917 and 
     1948, Rosenwald contributed funding for over 5,000 schools 
     for African-American kids across the deep South. In fact, by 
     1928, one-third of the South's rural black school children 
     and teachers were served by Rosenwald Schools. Ultimately, he 
     donated over 70 million dollars to causes to help African 
     Americans, and if you think that sounds like a lot of money 
     now, just imagine how much it was back then!
       Though Julius Rosenwald's work did a lot of good, African 
     Americans were still treated very unfairly in our country, 
     and money alone was not going to fix it. During the 1950's 
     and 60s, many Jews continued to help blacks in the south by 
     participating in social action. It is estimated that Jews 
     made up about 30% of the white volunteers that took part in 
     the civil rights movement.
       One way that some Jews participated was as freedom riders. 
     Freedom riders rode interstate buses in mixed race groups 
     into the segregated south, in hopes to change the segregated 
     buses law. Being a freedom rider was a dangerous job. Many 
     freedom riders were kicked off buses, beaten up by 
     segregationists or police, or even killed. Jews also 
     participated in dangerous voter registration efforts.
       Rabbi Allan Levine is an amazing man who was a freedom 
     rider and fought for civil rights. He was arrested for eating 
     at a restaurant with black people in Jacksonville, 
     Mississippi. He also marched from Selma to Montgomery, 
     Alabama to demand voting rights for African Americans, facing 
     violent state troopers on the Edmund Pettus bridge. His son 
     Ori Levine said of his dad, ``Every time he went to the south 
     he made sure to wear his yamakah.'' He wanted people to know 
     that he was a Jew who came to fight for their rights. It was 
     important for him that everyone knew that Jews fight for the 
     rights of weaker people.''
       Andrew Goodman and Mickey Schwerner were Jewish men from 
     the north who traveled to the south to participate in civil 
     rights actions in 1964. They worked with James Cheney, an 
     African American, to help register African Americans to vote 
     in Mississippi with the Congress for Racial Equality. While 
     they were there, the three of them

[[Page E949]]

     were murdered by Ku Klux Klan members, and their dead bodies 
     were hidden. Not until 2005, exactly 41 years after the 
     murders to the day, was a man charged and ultimately 
     convicted of direct involvement in the murders.
       During this same period of time, on August 28, 1963, a man 
     delivered a great speech during the March on Washington . . .
       You probably think I'm talking about Martin Luther King 
     Jr., but I'm actually not. Though Martin Luther King Jr.'s I 
     have a dream' speech truly was amazing, I am talking about 
     someone who is less well known--a Rabbi named Joachim Prinz--
     and he had an amazing speech too!
       Joachim Prinz was born in Berlin, Germany in 1902, and, at 
     age 24, he became a rabbi. He was an unconventional rabbi who 
     spoke out strongly against Hitler, the Nazis, and the 
     treatment of the Jews. He was arrested 3 times by the 
     Gestapo, and finally kicked out of Germany in 1937. Still, 
     because of his warnings about the Nazis, thousands of Jews 
     left Germany and their lives were saved.
       When Prinz left Germany, he came to America and spoke out 
     against the government in Germany, as well as the US 
     government's policies towards African Americans. While some 
     of the members of the congregation liked those ideas, others 
     felt the Civil Rights Movement should not be a Jewish 
     problem. In response, Prinz stated ``I would not morally say 
     justice to the Jews without saying justice to the blacks. It 
     is indivisible.''
       In 1963, he was invited to give that speech I mentioned 
     before at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. He 
     spoke about the Jews' historic quest for freedom and justice, 
     and stated:
       ``When I was the rabbi of the Jewish community in Berlin 
     under the Hitler regime, I learned many things. The most 
     important thing that I learned under those tragic 
     circumstances was that bigotry and hatred are not 'the most 
     urgent problem. The most urgent, the most disgraceful, the 
     most shameful and the most tragic problem is silence.'
       It is too bad that his speech came right before Martin 
     Luther King's powerful I Have a Dream' speech, because 
     Prinz's speech was pretty great too, and now no one remembers 
     it! What he wanted us to remember is that the we must not be 
     a nation of silent onlookers. We should take action and not 
     ignore injustice. Recently, I had the opportunity to 
     interview his daughter, Deborah Prinz. My great-aunt Micki 
     was kind enough to put me in touch with her. Ms. Prinz told 
     me that he was very loving and determined to speak his mind 
     even if he thought people wouldn't agree. For example, in his 
     synagogue, even though it wasn't popular, he allowed girls to 
     have bat mitzvahs, I asked her if she was inspired by her 
     father and she replied yes. I agree, because she created a 
     program called the Achieve Foundation, an organization where 
     more than 2,000 children and adult volunteers tutor kids who 
     need help in school but cannot afford tutors. She is 
     following in her father's footsteps to make the world a 
     better place, just like everyone else who puts their mind to 
     it can.
       I have mentioned a number of famous Jewish men who had 
     important roles in the civil rights movement. Now, I want to 
     tell you about a woman, maybe not as famous, but still very 
     important. Her name is Millie Goodman, and she is an 89-year 
     ``old Jewish, African-American woman who has been committed 
     to fighting for civil rights throughout her life. She is also 
     a cofounder of our DC Chapter of Machar, and she was generous 
     enough to tell me about her experiences.
       Growing up, she went to a Rosenwald school in the deep 
     south. Millie started her career as a clerk and typist in 
     Washington D.C with the federal government during the 1950s. 
     Early on, she recognized the challenges of being an African-
     American woman in the government. For example, she watched 
     white secretaries advance quickly, while African-American 
     secretaries remained in the lower positions. One day, an 
     office administrator stopped her and told her that he had 
     tried to help black people but he did not think they 
     appreciated it, and that this was why he could not take the 
     chance to promote her. She said she `went blind' with rage 
     and threw her notes, inkwell, and paper on him, ruining his 
     shirt. Her supervisor, a white woman from Texas, remained 
     calm and did not let her get fired. Millie left that job and 
     ultimately had a highly successful career, moving from an 
     entry level position of GS-3 to GS-15, the highest level for 
     a career civil servant.
       Throughout her career, Millie volunteered with the NAACP. 
     Having grown up in the South, she knew the role of the NAACP 
     and participated in civil rights activities, including the 
     1965 march from Selma to Montgomery. Millie's family worried 
     that she would be killed during the march and leave her 14 
     year-old daughter, Cheryl, without a mother, but Millie 
     believed that she had to march to make Cheryl's life better.
       While Millie had been born a Southern Baptist, she decided 
     to convert to Judaism, saying that Judaism let her be free. 
     Millie and her husband Joe found what they were looking for 
     in Machar, as it had social justice as its foundation. Among 
     the many things I learned from Millie, she taught me the 
     importance of determination and commitment. She said ``You 
     don't know what you can do until you do it.'' Looking back at 
     Millie's life, I have realized that one person can certainly 
     do a lot. With resilience, persistence, and passion, people 
     can do whatever they put their mind to.
       Another personal and important part of my project this year 
     was a trip I took with my family to Birmingham, Selma, and 
     Montgomery, Alabama. In Birmingham, we went to the 16th 
     Street Baptist Church, a site where the Ku Klux Klan placed a 
     bomb that killed four African American little girls. There 
     was a park across the street where many children and adults 
     protested, and the police responded with tear gas, water 
     hoses, and dogs. It was really sad to imagine what happened 
     there. We saw the real cell Martin Luther King Jr. was held 
     in at the Birmingham jail where he wrote the ``Letter from a 
     Birmingham Jail,'' a very famous letter where he describes 
     his belief in non-violent civil action.
       We went to the Civil Right Voting Institute and learned all 
     of the ways that African Americans were denied the right to 
     vote. For example, the government set up a lot of impossible 
     tests that African Americans had to pass, like guessing the 
     number of bubbles on a bar of soap, the number of jelly beans 
     or cotton balls in a jar, or writing out the entire 
     constitution word for word.
       In Selma, we walked across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, where 
     the police charged and beat many people during the first 
     attempt to march from Selma to Montgomery on what is now 
     called Bloody Sunday.
       In Montgomery, we learned was it was like when Rosa Parks 
     wouldn't move to the back of the bus. We also walked to the 
     Capitol building, the very spot where the march from Selma 
     ended and Martin Luther King spoke.
       But, though our trip was so jam-packed with those things, 
     we made sure to have time for other things like eating good 
     Southern soul food, having a dip in the hotel hot tub outside 
     in the cold air, and even escaping from an escape room with 
     only 6 seconds left!!
       Despite progress, African Americans and other people of 
     color still face civil rights challenges including 
     discriminatory police practices, gerrymandering, voter 
     intimidation at polls, and voter identification laws.
       But, you don't need to be a Martin Luther King Jr., a 
     Julius Rosenwald, or a Joachim Prinz to have an impact, and 
     you don't need to have a bat mitzvah project to get involved 
     in working for civil rights for oppressed people.
       I first started to learn about civil rights issues through 
     books I read for fun or for school classes. Books like the 
     March series by Congressman John Lewis, The Lions of Little 
     Rock, Warriors Don't Cry, Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom, 
     and many other books helped me learn about the experiences of 
       There are great DVDs you can watch that describe the lives 
     of important people like Julius Rosenwald and Joachim Prinz.
       You can also learn through visits to museums and other 
     landmarks around DC and in different states like Alabama.
       Second, speak up when you see discrimination happening 
     around just like Luke is doing with his No Place for Hate 
       Third, if you can find the time and get the support of your 
     parents, look for ways to get involved through volunteering 
     and social action. Many of you are already doing this. For 
       Many of us participated in the Black Lives Matter Protest, 
     the Women's March, and the March Against Guns;
       My dad and I volunteered at a Rock-the-Vote rally for 
     students coming into D.C. for the gun march;
       My friends Margaret, Luke, and I volunteer weekly at a soup 
     kitchen; and Rigby tutors a young girl whose family recently 
     immigrated to the US. Or, Machar's Social Action Committee is 
     another great resource.
       Finally, even if you don't have the time to participate in 
     social action efforts, you can follow the Jewish principle of 
     Tzedakah to help people and groups with money. You can 
     pressure your parents to do this!
       These actions, no matter how small, can make a difference 
     in the lives and experiences of others and, by extension, 
     yourself. Even though the freedom riders completed their task 
     of integrating the busses, there is more to be done and we 
     can all still get onboard the ride for freedom!
       I want to thank Norm, Heather, Rabbi Jeremy, and Marlene 
     for their help. I want to thank my Grandma and Steve for 
     listening to me practice and offering advice. Of course, I 
     want to thank my parents for all of their help with this 
     project and taking me to Alabama and making me practice even 
     when I didn't want to. And thanks to my sister too--she 
     played a lot of Yahtzee while I was practicing! Finally, I 
     want to say mazel toy and thanks to Luke and Rigby for being 
     great friends and b'nei mitzvah partners and all my friends 
     and family like my Nana from California for coming and giving 
     me this opportunity to speak.