Drawing on extensive new research in the archives of organizations such as the NAACP and the Anti-Defamation League, Greenberg shows that a special black-Jewish political relationship did indeed exist, especially from the 1940s to the mid-1960s--its so-called "golden era"--and that this engagement galvanized and broadened the civil rights movement. But even during this heyday, she demonstrates, the black-Jewish relationship was anything but inevitable or untroubled. Rather, cooperation and conflict coexisted throughout, with tensions caused by economic clashes, ideological disagreements, Jewish racism, and black anti-Semitism, as well as differences in class and the intensity of discrimination faced by each group. These tensions make the rise of the relationship all the more surprising--and its decline easier to understand.
Tracing the growth, peak, and deterioration of black-Jewish engagement over the course of the twentieth century, Greenberg shows that the history of this relationship is very much the history of American liberalism--neither as golden in its best years nor as absolute in its collapse as commonly thought.