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National Conference of Christians and Jews (San Diego, Calif.) (1962-) | Special Collections & University Archives

Name: National Conference of Christians and Jews (San Diego, Calif.) (1962-)

Historical Note:

Founded in 1928, The National Conference of Christians and Jews (NCCJ) was a human rights organization focused on combating intereligious prejudice. NCCJ's origins can be traced back to 1924, when the convention for the Federal Council of Churches of Christ began to discuss the growing power of the Ku Klux Klan. As a result, a committee on goodwill between Christians and Jews was developed.

As NCCJ's foundation was rooted against racial and religious prejudice, the official organization was created after the defeat of Al Smith in the 1928 election. After Smith's defeat, the Christian and Jewish committees of goodwill decided to develop a program encouraging positive interfaith relations. Supreme Court Justice Charles Evans Hughes presided over these first conferences, promoting diversity and tolerance among the committee.

In 1962, Dr. Jacob Cunningham, along with several other prominent San Diegans, formed a chapter for San Diego. The chapter worked with community agencies in the area, developing human relations workshops related to labor management issues. Many of these issues included equal opportunity for employment, wage negotiation, and employee education. In 1966, Cunningham was replaced by Nathan Jerald. It was then that the San Diego chapter developed more intensive youth/adult relations programs and community relations programs. The youth/adult program promoted equality with regard to age, focusing on the interactions between the youth, parents, teachers, and state representatives. The community relations program provided training for law enforcement, promoting cooperative action at the neighborhood level. Cunningham took over as President in 1971, and Dennis C. Hart took over in 1975.

The basic programs of the National Conference of Christians and Jews are divided into seven program areas; all of which are used to fight bigotry, racism, and inter-group prejudice. The programs include inter-religious relations, youth and adult relations, issues about equal opportunity, education, community relations, religious news service, and publication programs. To better represent the breadth of the organization, NCCJ changed their name to The National Conference for Community and Justice in 1990. It is still in operation today.

Note Author: Conor Higgins

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