Schmooze with Rabbi Allen Secher: A Historic Jewish Civil Rights Leader
Time & Location
About The Event
Rabbi Allen Secher served congregations in New York City, Mexico City, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Montana between 1962 and 2013.
In the early 1960s, Allen was one of the Freedom Riders during the Civil Rights Movement.
In August 1962, Dr. King put out a call to clergy to join him on a prayer pilgrimage to Albany, Georgia to support the civil rights movement. Dr. King had three requirements to participate: each person needed to have bail money, they could not have anything on their arrest record that would embarrass the civil rights movement and they all had to be committed to non-violence. Allen traveled to Albany and was part of a group of clergy members that held a prayer service in front of the Albany City Hall on August 28, 1962. Four hundred onlookers watched as all 75 clergy members were arrested and taken to four surrounding jails.
Dr. King wrote a letter from the St. Augustine Jail to Rabbi Israel S. Dresner, urging him to recruit rabbis from a Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) conference to come and take part in the demonstrations being held in St. Augustine, Florida. Allen responded to the appeal and traveled to St. Augustine to participate in the demonstrations. Sixteen rabbis, including Allen, arrived and attempted to integrate the whites-only pool and restaurant with a group of civil rights organizers at the Monson Motor Lodge on June 18, 1964. The protesters and rabbis were arrested.
While in a segregated holding cell at St. John’s County Jail, the clergy wrote a group letter titled "Why We Went: A Joint Letter from the Rabbis Arrested in St. Augustine." The day after the demonstration, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 on June 19, 1964, after an 83-day filibuster.
Allen is one of the few of the 16 rabbis who are still alive and active.
Allen is incredibly talented in other areas.
From 1967 to 1997, "Allen A" could be heard weekly on more than 450 Armed Forces Radio stations around the world. His internationally syndicated show, "East of Eden," featured interviews, poetry, music, and perspectives on a wide variety of subjects. "East of Eden" was rated No. 1 in its category, and had a weekly audience of millions of listeners. Guests included Ray Bradbury, Dalton Trumbo, Maya Angelou, John Cassavetes, Elie Weisel, and Rod McKuen. At one point it was the longest-running show on the Armed Forces Radio Network.
In the early 1970s, Allen served as a consultant for the CBS television sitcom Bridget Loves Bernie, depicting an interfaith marriage between a Jewish man and an Irish Catholic woman (played by the actors David Birney and Meredith Baxter, who married in real life after the show ended in 1973).
Allen served as Director of Communications for the Jewish Federation of Chicago between 1980 and 1990 where he produced religious and ecumenical programming and independently produced television documentaries, receiving seven Emmy Awards for television production and direction.
Among his Emmy-winning documentaries was the PBS special, "Choosing One’s Way: Resistance in Auschwitz-Birkenau." It first aired in September 1994 and featured Oscar winner Ellen Burstyn as the narrator. It also won the Hugo Award (for a documentary) at the Chicago International Film Festival and was nominated for a Peabody Award.
Allen’s acting credits include roles in Brian's Song and Marcus Welby, M.D.
He has lectured throughout the United States on "The Historic Image of the Jew in Film" and taught the psychology of film for several years at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Join us for a schmooze with this amazing rabbi as he recounts many incidents in his life, especially his Civil Rights activities.