Farrakhan appearance dividing Pittsburgh’s black, Jewish communities


(JTA) — A planned appearance by Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan in Pittsburgh has caused friction between the city’s Jewish and black communities.

Farrakhan, who has stepped up his campaign of anti-Semitism in recent years, is scheduled to appear on a panel Friday on a live radio broadcast from the Pennsylvania city.

Bev Smith, who hosts a nationally syndicated radio show, blamed Jewish and white Christian organizations for the withdrawal of a panel member.

Melanie Campbell, CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, withdrew from the panel, which includes Farrakhan and U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.)

Campbell told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that she feared losing funding for her organization if she appeared on the panel with Farrakhan. Campbell worked with Farrakhan on his Million Man March in 1995.

In an editorial posted on its website last week criticizing the decision to include Farrakhan in the program, the second in a series of programs about challenges facing predominantly black communities, the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle wrote that "We’re disappointed that Farrakhan will appear at so prestigious a Pittsburgh cultural address, but when the program ends, nothing will change. Blacks and Jews are still two people forged by similar experiences and the same dreams."

Smith said the Jewish Chronicle has made her “outraged” that “efforts to talk to people we feel are relevant to our community is an offense against the Jewish community,” according to the Jewish weekly.


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