National and City Wide Campaigns

These are the national campaigns that all existing NYC CORE chapters would have contributed members to:

Route 40 Freedom Rides – The 1962 sequel to the Freedom Rides was originally inspired by former CORE members Juanita and Wally Nelson. They were arrested for their 1961 sit-in protesting the racist treatment of African diplomats by restaurants along Route 40, the main highway at the time from Washington, DC to NYC.

Freedom Highways – A southern extension of the Route 40 Freedom Rides, the campaign focused on ending discrimination at Howard Johnsons’ motels and restaurants along the highways of the east coast all the way down to Florida. By the end of 1962, CORE had succeeded in getting Howard Johnson’s to end its discriminatory practices.

Collections for Mississippi – To support its efforts in Mississippi, CORE was constantly holding various drives to collect food, clothing, books, money, resources in general.

This is a list of the major city wide campaigns led out of the national CORE office from 1961 - 1965. After 1965, less emphasis was placed on demonstrations and more on community organizing. All existing NYC CORE chapters would have contributed members to:

Sealtest- A division of the National Dairy Products Corporation, Sealtest was ‘the world’s largest dairy corporation’ at the time. Its headquarters was in N.Y. as well as 4 plants. This campaign started with an investigation by the Northern Student Movement (NSM) in August 1962 which showed Blacks and Puerto Ricans made up only approximately 1% of the employees. CORE led a coalition of other interested groups, including local chapters of the NAACP and NSM. CORE’s negotiations in December, 1962 pointed out that Sealtest’s non-white employees represented only token employment. Out of nine hundred and fifty employees in NY, only ninteen were Black and/or Puerto Rican, all in the most menial jobs. Demands included the hiring of ten Blacks and Puerto Ricans immediately and fifty over the year. CORE also required the implementation of a plan to bring a more equitable balance in terms of future employment in all job categories. Sealtest at first refused to hear CORE out and rejected its demands. This led to a 2 month boycott of all Sealtest products. It ended when Sealtest gave in to CORE’s demands. CORE won a preferential hiring agreement.

Summer of 1963 – A coordinated series of campaigns focused on, but not exclusive to, integrating the building trades. Working with The Joint Committee for Equal Employment Discrimination, a city wide coalition of civil rights groups, CORE’s demands included 25% of jobs were to go to Black and Puerto Ricans on all city contracted building projects. Demands also included establishing apprenticeship programs and opening unions to Black and Puerto Rican members. Borough chapters created their own campaigns specific to the area where each was located within this framework.

A+P Supermarkets – The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. was the country's first grocery chain. At the time of CORE's campaign, it was the largest food retailer in the nation. A survey of two hundred and thirty stores in the NYC area found only 6% of A+P supermarkets’ employees were Black and Puerto Rican. Only .3% were in supervisory positions. At the end of 1963, CORE led a coalition of other interested groups. Stating that only one of every fifty A+P supermarket workers were Black and/or Puerto Rican, CORE pointed out that these positions were almost all part time jobs. CORE’s demands focused on the hiring of Blacks and Puerto Ricans in full time jobs. After several demonstrations, A+P supermarkets finally agreed to hire two hundred full time clerks in 1964, and the same next year. 50% of all premium jobs in 1964 were to go to Blacks and Puerto Ricans.

Schaeffer Beer- Billed as ‘America's oldest lager beer’, Schaefer Beer at the time was the world's best selling beer. Its main office was in Brooklyn, Williamsburg. This campaign represented CORE’s initial efforts to integrate the brewing industry. Schaeffer’s was singled out because of its position of influence within the industry. In trying to get blue collar jobs, however, CORE did not do as well as with other campaigns. Its investigation found out of three thousand five hundred employees, only fifty seven were Black or Puerto Rican, only thirteen of which were protected by union contract. CORE led a series of demonstrations starting in March, 1964 which included targeting the Schaeffer pavilion at the World’s Fair. Although the historians Meier and Rudwick found the campaign ultimately unsuccessful due to union resistance, CORE later successfully campaigned against other companies such as Ballantine Beer.

1964 City Wide School Boycotts - Led by Milton Galamison of Brooklyn NAACP, the Citywide Coalition for Integrated Schools organized boycotts of the NYC public school system, which, according to Prof. Clarence Taylor, was the country’s largest school system. With more than a million students, Blacks made up 26% (approximately 264,600), Puerto Ricans 17% (177, 544) (NY Times Feb 1, 1964; Feb3, 1964). The purpose of the boycotts were ‘to point up their dissatisfaction with the school system’s integration efforts…’ to achieve ‘a better racial balance in all schools’ and ‘the improvement of education for all pupils’. CORE supported the first boycott on Feb 3, 1964 as did all NYC CORE chapters. According to the New York Herald Tribune, it was the largest civil rights demonstration in the country up to that point. Only Brooklyn, Bronx and New York-Harlem CORE, the ‘ghetto chapters’, supported the 2nd boycott on March 16, 1964.

World’s Fair - In one sense the purpose of demonstrating at the 1964 World’s Fair in Queens was, as with earlier campaigns, to draw attention to racial discrimination in the construction industries and unions. Almost no Blacks and/or Latinos were hired to help in the construction of the fair, despite the fact it was ‘one of the largest publicly funded’ construction projects in the city. In the words of Marv Rich, CORE’s aim was “to contrast the technical and material achievements inside with the reality of police brutality, denial of the vote and complete subordination to the man”. Most NYC CORE chapters supported the campaign. At least fifteen hundred people demonstrated on the first day, at least two hundred and sixty eight were arrested. Picketing took place again once the Fair reopened in the spring of 1965.

World’s Fair Stall In- the anti-World's Fair protest. Initiated by Brooklyn CORE and backed by Bronx and New York-Harlem CORE, most NYC CORE chapters did not support this campaign. The purpose was to draw attention to many aspects of racial discrimination that existed in NYC. The goal was to have hundreds of cars ‘stall-in’ on the streets, expressways, tunnels, etc. of New York City, thus freezing traffic, bringing the city to a stand still and making it almost impossible to attend the opening day of the World’s Fair. The street action was complemented by subway actions in which CORE members held up the subway by blocking train doors from closing and the trains from moving. Considered ‘a flop’ as it never did happen, the tactic was later used successfully by other CORE chapters and members over the years, including Syracuse CORE in 1965, Brooklyn CORE chairman Major Owens in the 1970’s and Brooklyn CORE chairman Sonny Carson in the 1980’s.