The Jewish refugees generally were not accepted by their white neighbors but found an affinity—a common understanding of racial oppression—with their students, according to the doc. The professors brought with them a formal European style of teaching that at first seemed as out-of-place in the rural South as they did. For example, they wore suits and insisted students stand to answer questions.
Still, the professors ultimately helped create a bridge between the white and black communities and are considered seminal to the civil rights movement. Indeed, in Edwards’ estimation, they are part of a rich “legacy of civil rights activism and coalition between African-American and Jewish communities.”