“The Power of Good Will: African Americans and Jews together for Civil Rights”
“The Force of Ethics in Civil Rights” is the oral history project of interviews conducted by journalist and Aesthetic Realism Associate Alice Bernstein with unsung pioneers of all races who fought for justice. In 2013 the project includes over 200 videotaped interviews and scores of audios, with men and women around the country. A branch of the project centers on alliances of Blacks and Jews in behalf of equality, which show the power of good will to make for change. Eli Siegel described good will as “the desire to have something else stronger and more beautiful, for this desire makes oneself stronger and more beautiful.” And he gave evidence in thousands of lectures on the arts and sciences that good will is not the pale or weak thing people have thought; it is the most powerful, most avant garde way of mind there is! Our goal is to educate the public about the cause and answer to racism, and to inspire people of all ages and backgrounds to seek solutions together based on principles of Aesthetic Realism. The cause of racism and every instance of human injustice, Aesthetic Realism explains, is contempt: “the addition to self by the lessening of something else.” The only effective opponent to contempt is the desire to know, to respect, to be fair—that is, to have good will–for people and things not oneself. Recent interviews highlight the little known, immensely important and moving history of how Jewish Refugee Scholars, fleeing the Nazi Holocaust in the 1930s-40s, had their lives saved by courageous Black colleges in the South, who gave them safe haven and jobs. The Puffin grant will help to publicize history that is unknown, ignored, and even repressed, so that the people and events which helped to bring about greater justice and kindness will be known. Our hope is to produce a 20-minute DVD to introduce educators, historians, and the general public to the knowledge which can lead to change, and to expand the project into a documentary and book.