Twenty years ago today, rioting in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn shed light on state of black-Jewish relations in a city where both communities vie for influential shares of everything from political influence to real estate.
A once power alliance that helped institute dramatic change during the Civil Right Era took an abrupt turn on Aug. 19, 1991 after the motorcade of an influential Rabbi veered onto the sidewalk and killed a young black boy. The incident sparked a violent response from black residents, who attacked and killed a Hassidic Jewish student.
In the aftermath, leaders from both communities accused the other of racially motivated hate, further inflaming the tenuous ties.
It was a time when the legendary clashes between black community activists and Jewish defense groups received widespread attention, as charges of black anti-Semitism came from the Jewish community, as well as calls to repudiate black leaders. Figures such as Nation of Islam leader Minister Louis Farrakhan, Rev. Jesse Jackson and City College professor Leonard Jeffries had faced scrutiny for comments that had offended members of the Jewish community.
The Grio revisit the riots 20 years later with an insightful editorial.