By Jessica Ravitz, CNN
Atlanta (CNN) – Sixteen years after Susan Shulman Tessel lost her father, she sat on a Southern college campus Wednesday night and couldn't stop thinking about him. Surrounded by hundreds in a packed ballroom, she cried because he was missing. He should have been there with her and her mother. He deserved to be.
The late Irving Shulman was the only Jewish man to enter Emory University’s School of Dentistry in 1948. That was the same year someone else came to the school: the newly appointed dean, John E. Buhler.
After one academic year, Shulman flunked out. Buhler stayed on for 13 years, leading what some Jewish students would refer to as a “reign of terror.” Between 1948 and 1961, when Buhler left, 65% of Jewish students either failed out or were forced to repeat up to two years of coursework in the four-year program.
Those who lasted often paid. There were insults from professors such as “dirty Jew,” accusations by faculty of cheating and questions from the dean like, “Why do you Jews want to be dentists? You don't have it in your hands.”
Tessel's dad earned the distinction of being the first who failed.
Typical Georgia. Don't believe that it's just Emory or that it's over with, either. I live here and the air is thick with a straining, simmering race hate. My brother-in-law, a born U.S. citizen, was almost surrepticiously washed out by his trainer at an Augusta service job because of his "Hispanic accent" (he is otherwise fluent in English). Ironically, he'd answered the job posting because it required fluency in Spanish. When the manager, who was a USVI ex-resident found out, she was livid, she told this good-ole' boy trainer guy that what he was trying to do was a violation of federal law. It was creepy and disgusting to see how he went from underhanded bigot to smarmy, smiling "nice guy". I've been here for eight years, and I STILL can't get used to this stuff.
What defines you? Maybe it’s the shade of your skin, the place you grew up, the accent in your words, the make up of your family, the gender you were born with, the intimate relationships you chose to have or your generation? As the American identity changes we will be there to report it. In America is a venue for creative and timely sharing of news that explores who we are. Reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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