Atlanta, GA, October 10, 2012 …The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today commended Emory University for acknowledging and apologizing for the anti-Semitism that took place during 1948-1961 at the university's now-defunct dental school.
Emory President James Wagner has invited back to campus many of the former students -- now in their 70s and 80s -- who were forced to repeat courses or were failed solely because they were Jewish. In a private meeting followed by a public event tonight, Emory will confront head-on the prejudice and discrimination that took place.
"We are grateful to President Wagner for his forthright leadership in acknowledging and apologizing for a policy that has haunted many of the Jewish students throughout their long lives," said Bill Nigut, ADL Southeast Regional Director. "We are now hearing powerful, painful stories of how they came to doubt their own abilities, were viewed as failures by parents and friends, and had to rethink careers -- all because the dental school dean at the time was an anti-Semite and other administrators and faculty either ignored or abetted his prejudice."
In 1961, then-regional director of the Anti-Defamation League Art Levin (now 95 and living in Florida) presented statistical proof to University officials confirming that 65 percent of Jewish students were the victims of an egregious pattern of anti-Semitism. The dental school dean resigned his post soon after, but the university denied that his departure was connected to the discrimination -- until today.
ADL subsequently included the study in a book published that decade on discrimination in America, "Some of My Best Friends," by Benjamin R. Epstein and Arnold Forster, which had a significant impact in the fight against anti-Semitism in college admissions, housing, the workplace, and social clubs.
ADL praised retired Atlanta dentist Dr. Stanley ("Perry") Brickman, himself a victim of the discriminatory policy, whose thorough research led to today's apology. In addition to searching ADL archives, Dr. Brickman tracked down and interviewed many former students, several of whom will be featured in a documentary film, "From Silence to Recognition: Confronting Discrimination in Emory's Dental School History," which will be premiered at Emory's community event.
"As ADL approaches its Centennial Anniversary in 2013, we can look back at this painful chapter in American Jewish history and see the very real consequences of prejudice and bigotry," said Deborah Lauter, ADL Civil Rights Director. "While the virus of anti-Semitism still infects too many, we count Emory's actions in issuing this apology as a major success story in the long-standing fight against discrimination in America."