Queens College Hillel Director Moshe Shur and board member Peter Geffen joined fellow alumni from the SCOPE (Summer Community Organization and Political Education) Project for a 40th reunion at the Queens College Hillel last week as part of Black History Month. Entitled "The Scope of Freedom: Dr. King's Civil Rights Movement," the program brought together former SCOPE participants, including Joel Siegel of ABC's "Good Morning America," to speak to more than 200 students, staff and faculty about their experiences in the civil-rights movement and how it affected their future lives.
"Today was a moving moment in time where we were able to remember the people and the cause that shaped our lives today," Shur told the audience.
SCOPE was founded in the summer of 1965 when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. assigned the late Rev. Williams and the field staff of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) — along with about 500 summer college student volunteers, like Shur, Geffen and Siegel — to voter-registration projects in 120 counties in five southern states. The project resulted in more than 49,000 new voters added to local registeries.
The program was dedicated to the memory of the Geffen's parents, and the Rabbi Samuel and Ruth Geffen Memorial Lecture was the first of an annual series celebrating the strength and common goals of both the black and Jewish communities. Barbara Emerson, the daughter of SCOPE director the Rev. Hosea L. Williams, spoke about her father's dedication to the project. Those gathered also paid tribute to the late Coretta Scott King in a moment of silence. The program ended with a festive lunch of kosher soul food.
Though today's students were born long after the SCOPE years, they appreciated the opportunity to hear about the project's great impact on the civil-rights movement.
"The event was touching and inspirational. It allowed me to view an historical event from a new and different perspective," sophomore Julie Lindy said.
"I hope I can emulate the spirit of Dr. King's civil-rights workers in my generation," added Elie Weisblum.