Brooklyn CORE (part 2)

The Ebinger's Campaign
Ebinger's, a very popular bakery and product line 'had discriminated against minorities for decades', including Jews. According to Arnie Goldwag, Jewish women during World War II were not only refused work, they were told by the head of the company, Mr. Ebinger, that he would 'throw them in the oven'.1

Even though there were some non-Whites who worked in the bakery division, Ebinger's had no Blacks and/or Puerto Ricans as truck drivers or saleswomen at its stores. Blacks and Latinos were not hired for visible positions. They were kept in the back and never met the public as in the case with Long Island CORE's series of bank campaigns. In BK CORE's first attempts to get the company to hire more Black and Puerto Rican workers, Dr. Palmer had negotiated a deal for Ebinger's to hire six Black salesgirls.

An organization connected to the local Black Democratic Club realized Ebinger's was not honoring the deal and suggested boycotting it. Dr. Palmer, who Dr. Purnell sees as being generally reluctant to employ such tactics, disagreed.

Ollie Leeds, who like his wife had been closely associated with the Communist Party before he joined, took over as chairman. A fellow World War II veteran, Maurice Fredricks, who also became a member with his wife, Winnie, was the head of the employment committee.

BK CORE officially started the project in January 1962. It brought into the campaign local Urban League and NAACP chapters, as well as members from other NYC CORE chapters such as New York CORE and Columbia Univeristy CORE. They consciously worked to get local Jews involved, Black ministers in Brooklyn and made signs and leaflets in Spanish. Ebinger's stores were picketed regularly on Saturdays but even that proved to be not very effective.

Ebinger's was forced to sit down and negotiate again in May, 1962, though. The company stated it would up its number of Black salesgirls to two, hire two more Black women part-time and continue to hire Black women to fill most of the available positions for 'an indefinite period' of time.2 Ebinger's also agreed to work with the Urban League and unions to find Black salesclerks, truck drivers and office workers. Once again, however, it reneged. It hired the two new Black salesclerks (3 out of 240) but that was it. BK CORE 'intensified its campaign' and targeted thirty nine of the forty two stores for demonstrations.3 Even though it could only muster the manpower to cover twenty seven of the stores, BK CORE had people sign thousands of cards which stated they would not buy at Ebinger's stores until it ended its discriminatory hiring practices.

In August, six BK CORE members went to Ebinger's delivery truck depot and sat down in front of the trucks getting ready to make deliveries first thing in the morning. When arrested, they used the 'go limp' technique. First used by Wally Nelson of Cincinatti CORE approximately ten years earlier, Purnell implies it was Brooklyn CORE that was the first of the NYC CORE chapters to use the technique. According to CORE historians Meier and Rudwick: 'It was Brooklyn CORE that was most consistent in its application of new tactics' even though the national office may not have always approved of such tactics at the time.4

The tactic did force Ebinger's to again hire more non-White employees. In the end, though, after a ten month campaign, Ebinger's only hire thirteen all together, so Brooklyn CORE did not get all that it wanted.

There were two unintentional by products of the campaign. It was the beginning of BK CORE working with Rev. Milton Galamison, a local NAACP chairman and influential minister in his own right.

The Ebinger's campaign was also the start of Brooklyn SCORE. This local student chapter of CORE started with students at Erasmus High School which was almost all White. Even though they wanted to work directly with Brooklyn CORE, students were discouraged by CORE field secretary (and Freedom Rider) Mary Hamilton. She did not want them working with Brooklyn CORE specifically because of its reputation for militancy. The students insisted though and wound working with Arnie Goldwag as its advisor. Goldwag, then 24, was himself a student at Brooklyn College.

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