Dr. Laz inspires CSU with Crown Heights riot stories

Cover of "Crown Heights"
Cover of Crown Heights

Meeting people who have done amazing things is one of the most beneficial experiences that someone can have. This past Thursday I got the opportunity to meet one of those people, Dr. David Lazerson. It was a humbling experience.

At the Behavioral Sciences Building Dr. Laz screened his movie “Crown Heights” and followed with a question and answer session.

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He is not a well-known celebrity or someone that I have wanted to meet, but he is someone I am glad to have met.

Dr. Laz is an educator, musician,  and a race relations specialist. His work has been featured on CNN, USA Network, and ESPN.

“Crown Heights” is a movie made for TV about his work during the Crown Heights riots in the Summer of 1991. During the movie African Americans and Orthodox Jews rioted after a young boy was accidentally struck and killed by a car.

During the riots Dr. Laz was selected by the mayor to help be the liaison for the Orthodox Jewish community to work alongside leaders from the African American community. Both him and his counterparts created Project CURE, which is a racial harmony group. Project CURE encourages conversations about understanding through activities such as playing basketball and playing music.

Through Project CURE they were able to host many conversations about what it meant to be African American and Jewish, how to get along with each other, and why it is important get along.

Watching the movie and hearing Dr. Laz speak about how this changed both his life and the students who were part of Project CURE made me think that change can happen by just a few people. Dr. Laz is a truly inspiring person to hear speak, as he details his work with the Crown Heights riots and his involvement with Jewish youth.

Collegian editor at large Danielle Geller can be reached at community@collegian.com. Danielle Geller is a member of The Rohr Chabad Jewish Student Center.