Race Relations

Race Relations


Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Observance

For almost two decades, JCRC has worked with African-American community leaders to reinvigorate the spirit of partnership inspired by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. In the last four years, the annual observance has been held at Stone Temple Baptist Church, where Dr. King preached in 1966. More than 200 members of the Jewish and African-American communities gathered Jan. 16, 2017 to affirm a shared commitment to promoting justice, equality and freedom. The program included reflections on King's legacy and on the relationship between the Jewish and African-American communities as well as performances by student musicians from the North Lawndale area. Join JCRC and our partners Jan. 15, 2018 for the next observance, including a keynote address by Rev. B. Herbert Martin and an invocation by Rabbi Max Weiss of Oak Park Temple.  

Fierce Women of Faith

JCRC has partnered with the community-based organization Fierce Women of Faith to create opportunities for women from diverse communities in the Chicago area to engage with each other on the issue of violence in our city.

Founded two years ago by Rev. Dr. Marcenia J. Richards, Fierce Women of Faith (FWF) brings attention to the impact of violence in Chicago on women, children and families. It also provides tools for women to speak up on behalf of their communities, to take action for peace, and to create relationships among women from a variety of faith traditions. FWF offers public witness to violence in the streets through its work with women who’ve lost family members through violence; trains advocates to raise awareness of the root causes of violence and its impact in Chicago neighborhoods; pursues legislation such as assault weapons bans; actively reaches across community barriers and engage activists; and deepens partnerships through its work.

In March 2016, together with Fierce Women of Faith, JCRC sponsored a series of conversations to honor women’s contributions to the city and to launch dialogue on how to extend women’s involvement in all aspects of Chicago life, including city government, healthcare, education, combatting violence, and interfaith relations. More than 60 women participated in that event, which also featured testimonies of women – primarily from the South Side – who have lost children to street violence.

JCRC and FWF also have brought together women at four locations throughout Chicago as part of the Chicago Community Trust’s On the Table conversation series May 10, 2016 and again May 16, 2017 at JUF. The discussions focused on creating a unified pro-peace vision and identifying action steps. 

In addition, JCRC, the Jewish Women’s Foundation and FWF co-sponsored a screening of “Pray the Devil Back to Hell,” which details the way Liberian women – using song, prayer and non-violent approaches — brought peace to their war-torn country in the early 2000s. The screening inspired  a strategy session on how different religious communities can come together to promote peace in Chicago. The event took place in conjunction with the start of Chicago's third Summer of Faith and Action; and representatives from the Mayor's Office also participated.

In early September 2016, more 50 women from 20 Chicago neighborhoods gathered as part of a “Women Linking Arms for Peace in Chicago” rally in Grant Park to affirm that violence in one Chicago community affects the entire city. The event also highlighted the toll community violence exerts on women, families and children as participants held up the names of more than 300 (at the time) victims of violence in Chicago since the beginning of 2016. 

Latest News:

• Dinner & Dialogue: Chicagoans of diverse background break bread together

• Jews, African-Americans reaffirm commitment to Martin Luther King's dream 

• Stone Temple Baptist Church, once a synagogue, recognized as Chicago historic landmark 

• Jews, African-Americans join to honor Dr. King’s legacy 

• JCRC brings leaders to North Lawndale for historical tour 

• Jews, African-Americans join in honoring Dr. King’s legacy 



JCRC is the umbrella body for 43 major Jewish organizations in the Chicago area.

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