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Jews & blacks, unite to fight hate to honor MLK

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The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated April 4, 1968, on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, where he journeyed, mostly unheralded, to rally support for poor sanitation workers. Just days before his death, he spoke at an upstate New York celebration for Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. It was attended by 1,000 rabbis who sang “We Shall Overcome” in Hebrew, in honor of both the rabbi and the reverend.

King wanted African Americans to remember the contributions made by Jews to the civil rights cause — among them college students like Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman, martyred alongside Mississippian James Chaney during the Freedom Summer of 1964; and Heschel, a refugee from Hitler, who marched with King in the voting rights march in Selma, Alabama, in 1965.

He believed that the experience of Jews during the Holocaust was significant for the civil rights movement. "There isn't anyone in this country more likely to understand our struggle than Jews," his lawyer and close adviser, Clarence B. Jones, said King told him. "Whatever progress we've made so far as a people, their support has been essential." This was clear when King chose Joachim Prinz, a rabbi in pre-World War II Berlin who fled Hitler to become president of the American Jewish Congress, to be the speaker just........