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Washington DC Day 3

– Layla  Klehr

We started out our morning by talking to EJ Antoni of the Heritage Foundation. The Heritage Foundation is a more conservative organization, and I found their views interesting and not the voices that I usually hear every day. They talked a lot about economic freedom and being able to make a living for yourself without government help which is the opposite of United for a Fair Economy’s position, the organization we heard from earlier.

We then walked to Union Station, had a delicious lunch, and got back on the bus to meet with the NCJW, which stands for the National Council of Jewish Women. This organization is very important to me because my family has been members for several generations, and this Hanukkah, I will hopefully become a member. Listening to Sheila Katz talk about how she got involved and what the NCJW stands for was very powerful, especially hearing about the sexism she faced. The NCJW is a non-profit organization that addresses women’s rights, sexism, and antisemitism, among many other things. Hearing someone who is the first millennial woman to be president of a major Jewish organization give me advice was a really unique experience and one that was probably one of the highlights of this trip for me.

After we got snacks, we sat back down and talked to the founder of NORML, Keith Stroup. NORML stands for National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws and is all about legalizing marijuana use. Marijuana legalization is something that, before this trip, I hadn’t thought or talked much about. It’s unfortunately regarded as a rather taboo topic. The conversation was very insightful, and it was interesting talking to one of the original marijuana legalization advocates.

After our conversations, we went back to the hotel to relax for a little while, and then we went to a food hall for dinner.
Afterward, we went back to the hotel to talk to Daryl Davis. I walked into the talk, not expecting much, and came out inspired and in awe of the person I just talked to and heard from. His story was absolutely amazing, starting with how he first met someone from the KKK and later realized that he could further understand white supremacists if he got to know them. He told us about people he befriended in the Klan and showed us the robes that they gave him when they decided they didn’t want to be members anymore. He had a lot of flags from ex-neo nazis and white supremacists that he showed us. He told us that he has, directly and indirectly, helped more than 200 people get out of the Klan and other similar white supremacist groups. He also told us that David Duke, the former KKK leader, endorsed Donald Trump in the 2016 election, and Trump denied having any prior knowledge of him. Then, Daryl Davis showed us another clip of Trump from earlier in his life, and he was talking all about David Duke and seemed very informed about him, which I thought was very interesting.

We ended the night after talking to Daryl Davis and having an overall very powerful day. I think today really represented the trip because of how many different people and opinions we met with. Today was a very special day for me being able to meet with the President of the NCJW, and I will never forget what a cool experience this trip allowed me to have.