[Chicago Crossings: Bridges and Boundaries, reel 1; John Pitman Weber]

chicago-crossings-bridges-boundaries-reel-1-john-pitman-weber

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In this 1994 trip to artist John Pitman Weber's studio, a group of filmmakers from Kartemquin Films talk with Weber about his work, his life, and Jewish involvement in the Civil Rights movement.

0:21Copy video clip URL B-roll of John Pitman Weber’s studio. Weber meanders about, pinning a number of drawings to the wall, many of which seem to deal with protest. A sketch of Fred Hampton, Chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party, is accompanied by the quote: “When one of us falls, 1,000 will take his place.”

4:50Copy video clip URL The film crew begins to interview Weber, asking him to first talk generally about his thoughts on the project. Weber goes on to explain his extensive familiarity with the project’s ambitions, explaining that he’s been working with themes of civil rights, black liberation, and oppression for over thirty years, yet he admits that only recently has he resumed working with the Jewish community, describing a mural he was commissioned to paint in Los Angeles.

10:59Copy video clip URL Weber talks about the questions of identity he faced when asked to participate in the exhibition, as well as his lack of involvement in Chicago’s Jewish community.

12:44Copy video clip URL Weber references the disproportionate representation of Jews among White sympathizers during the Civil Rights movement and offers an explanation for the trend. “I think very few of them participated as Jews… you were thinking, rather, ‘This is my civic duty, right? This is an injustice, I’m doing this because I’m an American and I’m a white.’ So it didn’t have to do with Jewish and Black, it really had to do with White and Black,” Weber argues.

13:45Copy video clip URL Weber goes on to attempt to explain the reason why so many of his peers and young Jews in general came to be involved in efforts of social activism.

16:10Copy video clip URL Weber argues that the newfound, widespread acceptance enjoyed by Jews following the Civil Rights movement was not–as suggested at times in the Bridges and Boundaries book–the primary objective of the Jews, but rather a byproduct of the movement’s tenets.

 

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