Testimony to Tolerance Initiative Launched In Little Rock, Arkansas

Mon, 04/16/2007 - 12:00am

Central Arkansas Library System Partners with USC Shoah Foundation Institute To Bring Tolerance Education Program to Little Rock Community

LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS–April 16, 2007–The Central Arkansas Library System in Little Rock, Arkansas, in partnership with the USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education, announces the launch of the Testimony to Tolerance Initiative in Little Rock and the surrounding communities of Central Arkansas.  The Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation; L’Oreal USA, Inc.; and the Jewish Federation of Arkansas provided funding for this project.

The USC Shoah Foundation Institute holds the world’s largest visual history archive, containing nearly 52,000 video testimonies of Holocaust survivors and other witnesses, collected in 32 languages and from 56 countries.

The Testimony to Tolerance Initiative is a program developed by the Institute as a comprehensive, community-based, intergenerational outreach and education program.  The goal of the Initiative is to promote active engagement in tolerance education through the utilization of the testimonies contained in the Institute’s archive.  The Initiative offers the opportunity for students and adults in the Little Rock area to learn about the Holocaust and the importance of tolerance directly from those who lived to share their personal stories.

The Initiative will reach middle and high schools in Little Rock and the surrounding areas through three phases, the first of which is being launched today.  In the first phase, a set of 24 testimonies from the Institute’s archive is delivered to the Central Arkansas Library System.  Each testimony—4 of which were conducted in Arkansas, plus 20 that are a representational collection of survivors and witnesses from Europe—is a unique life story that includes the personal memories of pre-war life, the struggle to survive the Holocaust, and the aftermath of the war.  The collection includes the experiences of Jewish survivors, liberators, rescue and aid providers, a Sinti (“Gypsy”) survivor, a Jehovah’s Witness survivor, and a war crimes trial participant.

In Phases 2 and 3, the Institute will conduct workshops for educators in the Little Rock School District, as well as surrounding school districts.  Teachers will learn how to incorporate the testimonies in the Library’s collection using visual history as a teaching aid in the classroom.

“The Testimony to Tolerance Initiative is designed to equip diverse communities throughout the United States with the tools they need to nurture responsible and committed citizens dedicated to a society free of prejudice, intolerance, and bigotry,” said Douglas Greenberg, Professor of History and Executive Director of the USC Shoah Foundation Institute.  “It is our hope that the Initiative serves as a valuable asset to educators when teaching human rights issues to their students.”  “The Central Arkansas Library System has a long history of promoting mutual understanding,” said Bobby Roberts, Director of the Central Arkansas Library System.  “The Testimony to Tolerance Initiative will help us continue to provide opportunities and materials for people from all kinds of backgrounds to learn from each other.”  “L’Oréal USA, Inc. has a deep commitment to programs that foster tolerance and diversity,” said Suzie Davidowitz, Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications, at the company headquarters in New York.  “We are proud to be a part of this unique program and to assist in bringing the much needed educational resources of the USC Shoah Foundation Institute to the Little Rock community.”

“The important lessons of the Holocaust apply to all religious, racial, and ethnic groups in our community,” said Bonnie Nickol, President of the Jewish Federation of Arkansas.  “These powerful stories by Holocaust survivors will educate Central Arkansas students about the importance of embracing diversity, eliminating intolerance, and respecting humankind.”

The Institute launched the Testimony to Tolerance Initiative in Spring 2005, with projects in Des Moines, Iowa and Jackson, Mississippi.

About the USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education

With a collection of nearly 52,000 video testimonies in 32 languages and from 56 countries, the USC Shoah Foundation Institute’s archive is the largest visual history archive in the world.  The Institute interviewed Jewish survivors, homosexual survivors, Jehovah’s Witness survivors, liberators and liberation witnesses, political prisoners, rescuers and aid providers, Roma and Sinti survivors (Gypsy), survivors of Eugenics policies, and war crimes trials participants.  The mission of the USC Shoah Foundation Institute is to overcome prejudice, intolerance, and bigotry–and the suffering they cause–through the educational use of the Institute's visual history testimonies.  The Institute relies upon partnerships in the United States and around the world to provide public access to the archive and advance scholarship in many fields of inquiry.  The Institute and its partners also utilize the archive to develop educational products and programs for use in many countries and languages.  Learn more about the USC Shoah Foundation Institute’s work at sfi.usc.edu.

About the Central Arkansas Library System

CALS has 12 branches serving residents of Pulaski and Perry counties.  Branches are located in Little Rock at:  Main Library, 100 Rock St.; Aerospace Library, 3301 E. Roosevelt Rd.; Dee Brown Library, 6325 Baseline Rd.; Fletcher Library, 823 N. Buchanan St.; McMath Library, 2100 John Barrow Rd.; Terry Library, 2015 Napa Valley Dr.; Thompson Library, 38 Rahling Circle; and Williams Library, 1800 Chester St.  Also at Maumelle Library, 10 Lakepoint Dr.; Nixon Library (Jacksonville), 308 W. Main St.; Sanders Library (Sherwood), 31 Shelby Dr.; and Milam Library (Perryville), 609 Aplin Ave.