Our organization traces its beginning to 1923, when a coalition of Christians and Jews came together to address the growth of bigotry, racism and prejudice exemplified by organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan. By 1928, a committee on goodwill between Christians and Jews was created in Miami and, at a national level, the National Conference of Christians and Jews (NCCJ) began to address these issues by developing programs to encourage positive interfaith relations. Our interfaith clergy dialogue began then, and it now ranks as the longest running in the nation. In 1929, NCCJ organized a national two-day seminar among Catholics, Protestants and Jews to address anti-Catholic rhetoric, and in 1933, NCCJ pioneered the “Tolerance Trio” of a minister, a rabbi, and a priest, setting a new and dramatic pattern for religious acceptance in America.
We officially became the Miami branch of NCCJ in 1935.
From 1945 to 1955, with various incidents of mob violence taking place in Alabama and throughout the South, our organization developed strategies to prevent similar acts from happening in Miami, resulting in the passage of anti-KKK legislation.
Between the late 1940s and late 1960s, and led by black Americans, the Civil Rights Movement provided the context that resulted in the protection of every American’s constitutional rights, regardless of color, race or national origin. With a sense of urgency, Miami established community roundtables and dialogues, while creating interfaith groups that brought Catholics, Protestants and Jews closer across racial divides.
Since 1946, we have honored Miamians who are leaders in building a more inclusive Miami with our organization’s Humanitarian Silver Medallion Award. Today, our Silver Medallion recipients represent the history of Miami, the growth of our nation, and how our community’s commitment to inclusion has driven our success.
From 1960 to 1990 and beyond, our organization worked closely with Miami’s police force to identify racial and cultural biases and reduce incidents of police violence. We facilitated diversity training and community conversations with law enforcement professionals, including by bringing together our community’s at-risk youth and police officers.
Following the 1980 McDuffie riots, we worked with the Community Relations Board to formulate policy recommendations through a series of community hearings. Our efforts resulted in the report, “Overcoming Racial and Ethnic Isolation in Miami,” which addressed the root causes of the riots and set forth recommendations for avoiding future incidents. Unfortunately, our community saw other incidents of riots in the 1980s and 1990s, and to this day, we continue to work with community leaders to address the lack of economic opportunity and political voice that underlay many of these disturbances.
In 1999, following the Elian Gonzalez controversy, our organization worked with The Miami Herald to facilitate nine community dialogues with different leadership sectors.
In 2006, we became known as the Miami Coalition of Christians and Jews, and in 2011, to reflect the diversity of our community and to recognize that interfaith efforts are only a part of what our organization does to foster inclusion across Miami-Dade County, we became known only as MCCJ.
Chairman of the Board