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01/21/93

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Symposium to explore African American-Jewish relations

STANFORD -- "African Americans and American Jews: Bridges, Boundaries, Identities" is the theme of the Jewish Community Endowment Symposium to be held Thursday and Friday, Feb. 11 and 12.

The event, open to the public without charge, is co-sponsored by Stanford's Program in Jewish Studies, the African and Afro-American Studies Program and the Stanford Humanities Center.

Anna Deavere Smith, associate professor of drama at Stanford, will perform excerpts from her one-woman show, "Fires in the Mirror: Crown Heights, Brooklyn and Other Identities" at 8 p.m. Feb. 11, in Cubberley Theater, Cubberley Community Center, 4000 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto.

"Fires" focuses on the racial tensions between blacks and Lubavitch (a sect of Hassidic) Jews in Brooklyn's Crown Heights neighborhood that exploded in the summer of 1991. The accidental death of a 7-year-old black boy, who was hit by a car in the motorcade of the leader of the Lubavitch movement, led to angry outbursts by African Americans against Jews and to the retaliatory killing of a Hassidic scholar visiting Crown Heights from Australia.

The show was conceived and written by Smith. She and her production stage manager, Richard Hollanbaugh, will appear courtesy of Actors' Equity. After the show, there will be a panel discussion.

The Feb. 12 symposium, in Tresidder Union, Oak Lounges, will open with remarks from Ewart Thomas, dean of the School of Humanities and Sciences.

The first session, from 10 a.m. to noon, chaired by Steven Zipperstein, Stanford professor of history and director of the Program in Jewish Studies, will focus on "Reflections of the Past."

Panelists will include Clayborne Carson, Stanford professor of history, and director and senior editor with the Martin Luther King Papers Project, and Ruth Rosen, professor of history at the University of California-Davis, who has written on topics ranging from Jewish prostitutes to American soap operas and myths of small town life. Carson's recent publications include "Blacks and Jews in the Civil Rights Movement: The Case of SNCC."

The afternoon session, from 2 to 4, chaired by Horace Porter, Stanford associate professor of English and director of the African and Afro-American Studies Program, will deal with "Conflict and Liberation."

Panelists will include Paul Berman, a political and cultural critic, a frequent contributor to the New York Times, the New Yorker and the New Republic, and a recent recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship; Anna Deavere Smith; and Cornel West, chair of African-American Studies at Princeton University, whose book Race Matters, is due to be published in April, on the anniversary of the Los Angeles riots.

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