Clark Atlanta University Fashions Holocaust Remembrance
ATLANTA (Jan. 19, 2018)—Clark Atlanta University President Ronald A. Johnson Saturday, Jan. 27, from 3-5 p.m., will welcome to the University’s Thomas W. Cole Exhibition Hall members the Atlanta, Ga., community for a Holocaust Memorial Day observance, Fashioning a Nation: A CAU Perspective, featuring a visual art exhibition inspired by a commemorative dress designed by two CAU students. The free, public event also will feature the first-person account of Holocaust survivor Hershel Greenblat (b. 1941), a Ukrainian who spent his first two years hiding in a cave.
The Jan. 27 events are sponsored by the Georgia Commission on the Holocaust. The Holocaust was the systematic, state-sponsored persecution and annihilation of European Jews (as well as other groups labeled racially inferior) by Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945. The University’s observance also marks the 73rd anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, a Nazi concentration camp, a milestone which in 2005 was designated by the United Nations General Assembly as International Holocaust Remembrance Day
The commemorative dress on view, crafted from paper adorned with shards of acrylic, recalls Kristallnacht, or the night of broken glass, a two-day violence spree beginning on the evening of Nov. 10, 1938, during which more than 250 synagogues and 7,000 Jewish businesses, including fashion houses, were vandalized, set ablaze and destroyed. Even though dozens of Jews were killed, police and fire houses stood down. CAU fashion design majors Lenora Gray and Niambi Davenport inscribed each of the acrylic shards, symbolizing the glass that littered the streets during Kristallnacht, with the name of a Jewish fashion designer killed during World War II.
The dress, originally unveiled in January 2017, is now part of the traveling “Fashioning a Nation” exhibition sponsored by the Georgia Commission on the Holocaust. It was designed under the tutelage of CAU art and fashion department Chairman Christopher Hickey and Assistant Professor Cynthanie Sumpter.
Herschel Greenblat’s earliest memories are of being carried through war-ravaged Ukraine by his father. When the Germans invaded the Soviet Union, his family moved frequently to avoid capture and, in addition to hiding in a cave for his first two years, scavenged food from nearby farms. The horrific conditions in which they subsisted, compounded by harsh winters, led to bouts with diphtheria and tetanus; however, he managed to survive without medicine. Following the war, Greenblat lived with his family in an Austrian camp for displaced persons until immigrating to New York. His family then headed for Atlanta, where they arrived with $80. With the help of the local Jewish community, his father began a new life as a grocer in Atlanta’s former Buttermilk Bottom neighborhood, now known as the Old Fourth Ward.
The Georgia Commission on the Holocaust is a secular, non-partisan state agency administratively attached to the Secretary of State. The Commission comprises 15 members appointed equally by the Governor, Lt. Governor and the Speaker of the House. The agency strives to preserve the memory of the Holocaust and to promote understanding of its history by ensuring that learning how and why the Holocaust happened is an important part of the education of Georgia’s citizens. The Commission encourages reflection upon the moral questions raised by this unprecedented chapter of history and the responsibilities of citizens in a democracy.
To RSVP for this free public event at Clark Atlanta University, email CAUpresident@CAU.edu. For more information on the program, call 404-880-6040.