Queens College CORE

Queens College (QC), like City College, is part of the City University of New York. Its CORE chapter was originally the Queens College chapter of the NAACP. The group simply switched over to CORE.

Stan Shaw was president of the Queens College NAACP chapter when it happened. He served as the first chairman of QC CORE during the 1962-1963 school year.

During its first year, QC CORE created the Student Help Project (SHP). It quickly became a collaboration with education majors and professors of Queens College as well as the QC chapter of the National Student Association.

The Project had two main aspects. It provided free tutoring services to schoolchildren, mostly Black, in South Jamaica, Queens and in Prince Edward County, Virginia. Shaw was a founder of the South Jamaica initiative. Queens College students were organized as volunteers to assist children who were working academically below grade level. By the fall of 1963 more than 220 QC students had participated in the South Jamaica project.

Shaw was also one of several coordinators for the Virginia initiative. In his own words, "We then "picked-up" the Virginia Project created by two other students which was then run by me, Mike Wenger, Len (Hausman) and one or two other students."

Prince Edward County, Virginia was seen as a 'focal point in the fight for equality in education'. A black student named Barbara Johns in 1951 led a student strike there for better schools. As a result, a lawsuit was filed that 'became one of four cases that made up the historic Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education in 1954. Rather than desegregate, incredibly in 1959, Prince Edward County decided to shut down the entire public school system.

In the summer of 1963, a group of 16 Queens College students, including QC CORE members Shaw, Mike Wenger, Carolyn Hubbard, Jean Stein, Phyllis Padow, Deb Yaffe, Lenny Hausman, Roz Silverman and June Tauber went down to Prince Edward County for six weeks to tutor black students who had been without public school since 1959. The schools did not re-open until 1964. It is noteworthy that this effort took place a year before the Mississippi Freedom Summer Project launched by the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO).

SHP became so large that it was spun off as an independent project. Stan Shaw became chairman of the SHP from January 1963 through January 1964 while Mike Wenger succeeded him as QC CORE chairman from 1963-1964. Other officers included: Jean Stein, Marion Lord, Jay Glasser, Shaw, Padow and Hubbard. Wenger, who had tutored students in South Jamaica from 1962-1963, also followed Shaw as the head of SHP.

The historic March of Washington (MOW) also happened during that summer of 1963. QC CORE not only represented at the march, one of its own, a 17 year old Elliot Linzer, actually worked as a staff member in the Harlem office for the MOW.

On campus, QC CORE had become popular by 1964. Official members numbered about eighty while perhaps another hundred could be counted as associates. Meetings would usually have over a hundred people and its events such as Freedom Week in 1964 were well attended.

Off campus, the chapter participated in other CORE projects such as the freedom schools that accompanied the school boycotts of early 1964. Members such as Linzer and the equally young Andrew Berman were part of the Schaeffer protests and the World's Fair demonstrations. While Linzer was not arrested at the World's Fair, other QC CORE members like Howard Epstein, Holly Bauman, Sarah Hewitt, Martin Rubin and Berman, who shared his cell with James Farmer, were.

Even though there had been a big debate on campus whether to support the Stall-In, QC CORE was successful in getting other students to participate in the demonstrations. The fact Queens College is not far from Flushing Meadows Park where the Fair was held probably helped. Among the QC students that demonstrated was Andrew Goodman, one of the three civil rights workers murdered while working for the Mississippi Freedom Summer Project.

Goodman was not a member of QC CORE but may as well have been. He seems to have done everything but fill out a membership card. He attended QC CORE meetings, participated in their activities on campus and knew several members of CORE in and out of the campus chapter. However, Goodman was listed as a member of COFO in CORE documents while the other two murdered activists, Chaney and Schwerner (of Downtown CORE), were were listed as members of CORE.

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