Institute News

Testimony to Tolerance Initiative Debuts at Jackson-Hinds Library System

The Jackson-Hinds Library System and Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation present the Testimony to Tolerance Initiative, a program designed to equip the community of Jackson, Mississippi, with the tools it needs to nurture responsible and committed citizens dedicated to a society free of prejudice, intolerance, and bigotry.

At the center of the Testi mony to Tolerance Initiative is the Jackson Visual History Collection; twenty-one English language testi monies of Holocaust survivors and other witnesses from the Shoah Foundation’s visual history archive, one of which was conducted in Mississippi. The Collection is available to the public at the Eudora Welty Library. In the fall of 2005, the Shoah Foundation, with the help of an Educational Site Coordinator stationed at the Eudora Welty Library, will conduct educational outreach to Jackson’s middle and high schools, using visual history testi mony as the cornerstone of an extensive pedagogic program.

According to Douglas Greenberg, Shoah Foundation President and CEO, “The life stories in the Shoah Foundation archive have an important educational value, not only because they support the study of the Holocaust, but also because they often broach questions of fairness, justice, labeling, or scapegoating—issues that adolescents confront in their daily lives. Watching Testimony inspires young people to think about their behaviors and biases today, and provokes dialogue about their role as citizens in a multicultural and multiracial society.”

Video is an engaging educational medium for today’s students, and one to which they readily respond. In their testimonies, Holocaust survivors and other witnesses speak not only about the tragedy that befell them and those they loved, but also about their childhood experiences and day-to-day life, their traditions, their friendships, their family. When watching testimonies, students can develop an immediate and intimate bond with the person on the screen and become personally and emotionally affected.

“Nothing imparts truth and emotion like a person talking directly to you, saying ‘This happened to me’, “explained Steven Spielberg, Shoah Foundation Founding Chairman. “By putting real faces, real voices, real experiences directly before this and future generations, they can learn how our very humanity depends on the practice of tolerance and mutual respect,” he continued.

The official launch of the initiative on May 4 at 10:00 AM at the Eudora Welty Library serves as an important event for the Jackson community. As the first city in the nation to implement the initiative, Jackson is leading the way in innovative ways to promote tolerance and diversity. The Testimony to Tolerance Initiative in Jackson is made possible by generous funding from the Levy-Markus Foundation.

About the Shoah Foundation

The Shoah Foundation testimonies, nearly 52,000 from Holocaust survivors and other witnesses , comprise the largest visual history archive in the world. The Foundation’s mission is to overcome prejudice, intolerance, and bigotry—and the suffering they cause—through the educational use of its visual history testimonies. The organization relies on global partnerships to achieve three strategic goals: to preserve and provide access to the archive; to build and support educational programs; and to develop educational products based on the Foundation’s testimonies. Shoah Foundation educational programs and products are currently reaching nearly two million students in the United States and around the world. Currently, 42 Visual History Collections can be viewed at locations in 16 countries. For information about the Shoah Foundation, visit www.vhf.org.

About the Jackson-Hinds Library System

The Jackson-Hinds Library System’s m ission is to help fulfill the community's desire for knowledge. The system serves the City of Jackson and Hinds County in central Mississippi, and includes the Eudora Welty Main Library and 14 branches.

Seven branches are located within the City of Jackson: Fannie Lou Hamer/Albermarle, Margaret Walker Alexander, Colonial Mart, Medgar Evers Boulevard, Northside, South Hills, and White Rock. Branches located in Hinds County are: Beverly J. Brown in Byram, A.E. Wood in Clinton, Lois A. Flagg in Edwards, Raymond, Ella Bess Austin in Terry, and Evelyn Taylor Majure in Utica.

The Jackson-Hinds Library System offers a range of programs, materials and services to persons of all ages. In keeping with the advances of technology the library system has made available to the public the Internet, computer training, and document delivery between the branches via facsimile. Word processors are available at all branches of the library system. The branches provide various services for the patrons. Meeting rooms are located in some branches and are used by the public for a variety of meetings.

The Jackson/Hinds Library System is a part of a growing community and is striving to grow with the community it serves.

For information about the Jackson-Hinds Library System, visit www.jhlibrary.com.