photo of Downtown CORE chairman Chris Sprowal

chris sprowal pic.tiff

Dublin Core


photo of Downtown CORE chairman Chris Sprowal


Downtown CORE members


This is an early 1970’s photo of Downtown CORE member Chris Sprowal. His personal story speaks to what Dr. Nishani Frazier identifies as the transformative nature of CORE.

Originally from Philadelphia, Sprowal had been locked up on several different occasions before coming into Downtown CORE, including three different times for narcotics. In speaking about those years as an addict, he stated, ‘I wasted more of my life in a jail cell where I broke the habit cold turkey. One day I walked off Riker’s Island and got hooked on CORE’.

Sprowal was one of the CORE leaders that led a protest demonstration of students the day after the NYPD shooting of a Black teenager that led to the Harlem riots. Sprowal was reported by the NY Times as having ’cautioned the demonstrators to behave like ladies and gentleman’. The chanting of the 175 students, mostly schoolmates of the student that was killed, ranged from ‘We Shall Overcome’ to chants of ‘Kill a Cop! Let’s Go!’. Sprowal and other CORE leaders present called for murder charges to be placed on the police officer responsible.

Sprowal was also one of the leaders of the rally that preceded the actual riot in Harlem that became the start of the ‘long hot summers’. Sprowal was again quoted by the New York Times at the rally as saying, “It is time to let ‘the man’ know that if he does something to us we are going to do something back…. I belong to a non-violent organization, but I’m not non-violent. When a cop shoots me, I will shoot him back.”

Soon afterwards, Sprowal became a member of CORE’s ruling body, the National Action Council (NAC).

By 1970, Sprowal had moved to Freeeport , Long Island and became involved in politics. He was considered one of Nassau County’s leading Black democrats, and the head of a Black caucus within the Nassau County Democratic party. He started a Black Power group in 1972 , the Political Organization and Workshop for Education and Registration (POWER). Married with kids, he went on to earn a college degree from the State University of New York. At one point, he owned his own home.


'2 Blacks 6 Whites, 2 Trusteeships', Newsday, March 16, 1973







“photo of Downtown CORE chairman Chris Sprowal,”, accessed December 6, 2023,

Output Formats