HARRISBURG, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — Citing a storied history of cooperation, and a shared desire to continue promoting social justice, members of the Pennsylvania State House are forming a Black-Jewish caucus.
During the civil rights movement, Jews and Blacks worked closely together to make major gains like the Voting Rights Act, housing legislation and formation of the NAACP, said Philadelphia Democrat Jared Solomon, a caucus co-chair.
“Any good relationship always needs to be renewed and revitalized and reworked to take on the challenges of today. And that's what we are here to do,” Solomon said.
In a conversation with fellow co-chair, Philadelphia Democrat Jordan Harris, a member of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, they realized further cooperation could help tackle the challenges of today, Solomon said.
Harris said the caucus isn’t just symbolic.
“The truth is that this caucus is about really having the tough conversations that are necessary. In families, we have disagreements. In families, we have squabbles, but we remember that we are in it together,” Harris said.
“This is just another opportunity for us to share our commonalities and not allow those things that may show us different and keep us apart.”
Philadelphia Democrat Chris Raab says it’s also a chance to push back on what he calls the “corporate-driven narrative” that Blacks and Jews don’t get along.
“That prevailing narrative is problematic, and I hope that we as a caucus would really focus on the facts and the opportunities,” Raab said.
Allegheny County Democrat Dan Frankel said, while there may be perceived tensions between Blacks and Jews, there are shared goals.
“The great histories that we have, and also the vulnerabilities, is really something that I think is worthy of putting this caucus together,” Frankel said.
Members of the caucus say a primary goal is to push back on all forms of racism, anti-semitism, and all forms of bigotry.
“We have to fight white supremacy, because we are all victims of that,” Raab said. “And not just blacks and Jews. Everyone is a victim, when that is instilled in our society.”