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African American And Jewish Group Traces Civil Rights Movement

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(Memphis) A group of teens is getting the experience of a lifetime in Memphis as it traces the steps of the civil rights movement.

The teens from DC are tackling race and religion relations in hopes of taking stories of change back to their schools and communities.

For three weeks, a group of high schools from Washington DC are traveling around the south on a bus going to many of the places of importance during the civil rights movement.

They’re also exploring the close relationship between the Jewish and African American communities during that period.

Operation Understanding DC is program for black and Jewish students in Washington DC to create understanding and diversity in their city.

They meet every week throughout the year to get to know each others' religions and cultures, and they are celebrating the end of that program with a tour of the Civil Rights movement from New York to Memphis.

“What the Civil Rights leaders fought for in the 60’s is still not over yet and there is still discrimination and hatred in the world and OUDC is to end all discrimination and with that in mind we all have a clear goal we can work toward,” said Ezra Hollander.

The trip includes historical tours and walking tours of Harlem and the route from the March to Selma, capped off with a tour of the Civil Rights Museum here in Memphis.

Mariam Coker is enjoying learning about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and seeing the spot he was assassinated.

“At least for me I felt the history and I felt his presence there,” said Coker.

Along the way, the group of 22 goes to different services mosques, temples and churches throughout the south to experience the different cultures.

Rabbi Micah D. Greenstein meets with the group every year and gives them a lesson on Jewish and African American relations during the civil rights movement, like the fact the half of the Freedom Riders in Mississippi were actually Jewish.

“Our common belief regardless of our faith tradition, gender, and race is all about healing the world,” said Greenstein.

When the group gets back home they will be required to talk to their school, family and friends about their experience and educate them about the civil rights movement.