South Jamaica CORE

Like New York CORE, Queens CORE also had a group that seceded to form another chapter - South Jamaica CORE (SJ CORE).

Like East River CORE, the founding members of SJ CORE saw themselves as more militant and class conscious than the more middle class oriented chapter they were leaving. They saw themselves as fighting more for basic social services as opposed to racial peace. There was also a strong socialist leaning to the chapter. Members were interested in working with poor Blacks as opposed to integrating housing for middle class Blacks.

South Jamaica, the third largest Black neighborhood in NYC, was referred to as a ‘horizontal Harlem’, not a slum like Harlem but a ghetto none the less. Even though 90 % of the Blacks there at the time were home owners, it was and is still considered a working class Black neighborhood. According to the 1960 census it had a population of 60,000 blacks versus 19,000 whites.

Like East River CORE, SJ CORE was at first led by a steering committee made up of Franklin Anderson, Roger Kahn (White), Andy Young (Black) and John Dixon. Hamilton Banks (Black) was elected vice chairman later that year. Other members from Queens CORE who seceded included Dorothea and Frank Leonardo, Anthony and Ida Timpone (White), Joel Rosinsky(White), Diane Kahn and Allan Carlin. By September, 1964 Stanley Hamilton became chairman. Other officers included Patricia Stewart, Cheryl Henderson, Dennis Weeks, Joseph Marshall, Bill Wright and John Howell. The chapter was mostly White and its members tended to be younger than those in Queens CORE. Queens SCORE, for example, worked closely with the chapter.

Again, as with East River CORE, many of its founding members, like Stanley Hamilton, were also friends with Norm and Velma Hill. This might explain why SJ CORE opposed the Stall-In and demonstrated at the World’s Fair. Franklin Anderson, John Dixon and Andy Young (Black, 35) were among those arrested. A letter to the Amsterdam News detailed how he was beaten and called a nigger by the police while he was arrested and taken to the precinct. When he was finally brought to court, the judge presiding found out he was one of the Queens CORE group that had climbed a crane during the Rochdale demonstration, declared him insane and commited him to Kings County Hospital. His testimony indicates there may have been some difference in how Black demonstrators were treated by NYPD and how Whites treated. Like Queens CORE, there may have also been a spilt among members. Hamilton Banks stated when interviewed he and three others prepared to be part of the Stall-In.

The same type of enmity that existed between East River CORE and New York-Harlem CORE seems to have been absent between these two Queens chapters. For example, Hamilton Banks, Gular Glover, Moe Tandler and others worked openly with both chapters from time to time. Both chapters worked together to demonstrate against the depiction of arguably a stereotypically racist image, ‘Banjo Billy’, painted prominently on the walls of a local bank as promotion.

Not much is known about the chapter’s work at this time. It’s office was located between 108th and 109th street on New York Boulevard (now Guy Brewer Boulevard). According to Banks, the chapter opened a health clinic near its office in an old pool hall they fixed up. Doctors volunteered to come in to provide health services. There was also a tutoring and homework help program for local kids.

The chapter appears to have been accepted well by the community. The New York Herald Tribune credited it with playing a big role in making sure the 1964 summer riots did not happen in South Jamaica by working with the local police. The efforts of Stanley Hamilton in particular were noted. South Jamaica CORE in turn credited the local police for its good work and vice versa. SJ CORE made these statements to the Tribune under a sign that advised citizens to report instances of police brutality. The Tribune article did not mention the role of SJ CORE in the Harlem riots which would become the beginning of the ‘long hot summers’. SJ CORE, along with East River and Downtown CORE, held the initial rally on 125th street said to have been the spark. Arthur Harris, one of the founding members of SJ CORE, was one of the six CORE people arrested at the start of the riots.

Harris, a Queens College student, was later set up by the FBI’s Counterintelligence Program (COINTELPRO) in one of the best known cases of COINTELPRO outside of the Black Panthers. His co-defendant was Herman Ferguson, the education chairman under Stanley Hamilton.

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