President Barack Obama was not the first great black orator I had the opportunity to hear.
Palestine-Israel Journal websiteAs a teenager, an appearance by Malcolm X, the controversial and feisty fighter for the rights of black Americans at Brooklyn College left an indelible mark on my memory. …Unfortunately I missed the opportunity to hear Dr. Martin Luther King’s memorable “I have a dream” speech at the March on Washington in 1963 …, because of my responsibilities in the Hashomer Hatzair progressive Zionist youth movement, though many of my friends were there, and I was there in spirit. This was just a month before I came on aliya to a kibbutz.
In 1984, I happened to be in the U.S. on a Peace and Justice Tour, together with others from hot spots around the world who believed in non-violent conflict resolution. Reverend Jessie Jackson, who stood alongside Dr. King in many of the civil rights struggles, had decided to run for president, and I traveled to the troubled city of Newark, New Jersey, to hear him speak before an almost all-black audience. You could feel the excitement in the air, the sense of empowerment and hope glistening in the eyes of the young people who were there, clearly inspired by the fact that a black man was running for the nation’s highest office. …Fast forwarding to 2013 and the Binyanei Hauma International Convention Center last Thursday, I was privileged to be one of the very small percentage of non-students to be present at President Obama’s electrifying speech. … I’m sure that the experience of being present and hearing Obama’s profound, beautifully built and moving speech, will be a formative moment in the life of many of the young Israeli students in the audience, and may influence their life choices. …
Seeing History in Obama’s Jerusalem Speech
This is from my latest blog post at The Times of Israel, “From Malcolm X to Barack Obama“: