At 6 a.m. on the morning of September 26th a I arrived at the Indianapolis Airport with a book bag and one carry on piece of luggage and no idea what would happen over the next 48 hrs. As we boarded the plane and got settled, I ended up sitting with one of our Jewish cohorts, Jeremy, and we talked all the way to DC. We talked about our family, life, our roles with our perspective organizations and our philosophy regarding certain issues our communities face. When we landed in DC, Jeremy had helped ease my mind and get comfortable about what was about to happen. Once we got off the plane and dropped our luggage to our rooms, we were hurried to the National Museum of African American History and Culture where we spent about two hours walking through an often heavy, difficult, yet wonderfully planned display of our Black History ending the day with a celebration of Black culture. After lunch, we took time to tour the gruesome Jewish history at the Holocaust Museum. Walking through the exhibits, hearing the explanations, and seeing the horrible images was difficult for me.
Day two was spent on Capitol Hill in the Cannon House Office Building meeting with our Indiana delegation of our members of Congress. We got a rare opportunity to sit down with Senator Joe Donnelly, Congressman Andre Carson, Congressman Trey Hollingsworth and other staff members about issues from domestic to international. This was an awesome and rare experience to meet with many of our Indiana elected officials and ask pertinent questions in an intimate setting. We concluded the day with discussions with leadership from prominent national social justice organizations: the National Urban League, the NAACP Washington Bureau, and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs. In these discussions, we talked about Black/Jewish relationships and direction on a national level, followed by plans for moving forward in Indy. As we concluded the discussion, we all went around the table and made definitive “I’m In!” statements.
I had never taken the time to consider how closely related Black history/Slavery and Jewish history/the Holocaust were. This was probably the most impactful day of the two days we spent in Washington, DC. The discussions had over a shared meal, were important and they will stay with me forever. I appreciated how all 30 of us were ready to be open, honest, and transparent with each other about our past and the dynamics of our individual cultures. I was extremely encouraged by how committed we all were to continuing to develop this relationship moving forward. I feel like I gained 15 new Jewish brothers and sisters. I am excited about the future of this partnership and look forward to working together on common issues and fighting racial injustices that impact my brothers and sisters as well!
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.