Brooklyn CORE member Les Campbell and the "Hey, Jew boy" poem

Dublin Core


Brooklyn CORE member Les Campbell and the "Hey, Jew boy" poem


Les Campbell (a.k.a Jitu Weusi)


This is a film clip that it comes from the PBS documentary series "The Jewish Americans"... it has to do with Brooklyn CORE member Les Campbell from the Ocean Hill-Brownsville community control demonstrations and the "Hey, Jew boy" poem he read on the radio in 1969. He paid a heavy price as he was labeled as anti-semitic for the rest of his life even though he apologized several times. In the many articles on the issue, which often implied it was Campbell who wrote the poem, his side was rarely discussed.

The poem, which the show’s host (Julius Lester of SNCC) asked Campbell to read, had actually been written by a 15 year old student. It was only one of several written by his students and read on the show. Campbell at first refused to read the poem but finally did at the host's insistence. He used the poem to illustrate the type of enmity created by the mostly Jewish United Federation of Teachers (UFT) and of how the students were pointing to the fact that these historical victims of racism were just as guilty of being racist.

The poem had been dedicated to Al Shanker, head of the UFT. Even though he had participated in many civil rights demonstrations, specifically with CORE, Shankar went well out of his way to portray the Blacks and Latinos opposed to him and the UFT as Hitleresque monsters who wanted to "kill Whitey". He also warned parents that volunteers who kept the schools open while the UFT was on strike may have "transmissible diseases" stereotyping Blacks and Latinos as unwashed and dirty.

As professor Clarence Taylor wrote, “Al Shanker’s attempt to play on the fears of teachers by falsely painting a picture of the whole community control movement as anti-Jewish and out to remove Jewish teachers from their position further heightened the tension and distrust between the Black and Jewish communities.’ (Taylor , Clarence. Knocking At Our Own Door. Columbia University Press.)

Campbell , who changed his name to Jitu Weusi, went on to found the Black cultural nationalist organization the EAST.


Jewish Americans




“Brooklyn CORE member Les Campbell and the "Hey, Jew boy" poem,”, accessed December 6, 2023,

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