Long Island CORE (part 2)

LI CORE was still acting mostly as support for national CORE projects such as the Freedom Highways and Sealtest campaigns. Lynch began speaking about the ‘massive resistance to school integration’ in LI as being comparable to that in the south. At the beginning of 1963, he called for an ‘acceleration of the struggle in Long Island’ and ‘more Negro participation’. Actions would include lawsuits, pressuring public officials, pickets, demonstrations boycotts and sit ins. An editorial by the Long Island daily newspaper Newsday villainzed him in comparing his actions to yelling ‘fire’ in a theater.

The Big Bank Campaign
The chapter began its ‘transition to more aggressive, dynamic, action programs’ with a series of campaigns against the local banking industry. It entered into negotiations on employment with three banks: Meadowbrook, Hempsted and Franklin National, the biggest bank in the area.

LI CORE’s employment committee, including Lynch, Ruth Schwartz and Mark Dodson, in its demands against Franklin National asked for the immediate employment of ten Blacks and Puerto Ricans, for 50% of all future jobs and 75% of summer trainee positions in the near future to go to Blacks and Puerto Ricans. These jobs were to be in ‘visible positions’ such as tellers and clerks. According to Newsday, the fifteen out of the twelve hundred employees that were non-White worked in the back of the branch and never met the public. This was considered the chapter’s first real success.

It was immediately followed up by a campaign in March against Meadow Brook National Bank. Because the bank would not negotiate, LI CORE started an economic boycott. Several members from Harlem CORE participated in the picketing and leafleting. An agreement was reached before the month was up. In the end, LI CORE won a substantial number of jobs from two of the three banks.

Operation Breakthrough
Operation Breakthrough with the Long Beach NAACP dealt with conditions of Blacks in Long Beach who were only allowed to live in a ghetto section made up of “shantytown shacks”, “squalor and hovels”. Rents were actually higher there than in other parts of the city. Demands called for an immediate 50% reduction in rents and all necessary repairs to be made within five days.

Two sit ins were held at retail stores owned by ‘the slumlords’. After using the ‘go limp’ technique when arrested, Lincoln Lynch and Ruth Schwartz were represented in court by LI CORE member Moe Tandler. These arrests, LI CORE’s first, led to three injunctions to stop further demonstrations.

The other aspect of Operation Breakthrough focused on rental discrimination in other parts of Long Beach where Blacks were not allowed to live. By March 21, there had been at least thirty-six arrests in ten days. Twenty-nine of those were made during sit-ins at the Commodore Apartments. Among those arrested were LI CORE members Marv Zuckerman, Aileen Pollack, Louise Katz, Brooklyn CORE members Arnie Glodwag (White), Vinny Young (Black) Robert Greger (White) and CORE field secretary Jon Schaefer who refused to be bailed out.

The charges were eventually withdrawn but the legal bill incurred threatened to bankrupt the chapter. Just like with CORE during the Freedom Rides, bail was gradually raised on purpose so as to be prohibitive.

Operation: Breakthrough resulted in the arrests of several slumlords and the creation of a human rights commission for the area. Long Beach officials also agreed to end discrimination in housing, unemployment and public facilities.

Despite the fact that Newsday ran three editorials in five weeks criticizing CORE, Mark Dodson was elected to the CORE’s National Action Council and Lynch was re-elected chairman. William Ericson was his vice chair. Other officers included Ruth Schwartz, Diane Fine, Margo and Alvin Petrus, Diane Lewis, Luther Johnson, Louise Katz, Rev. Enoch Terry, Harold Trent and Frank Irwin. Margary Lee and David Parker served as the mentors to SCORE. LI CORE also got a permanent office when a CORE member donated a space at 517 South Franklin street in Hempstead.

July 4th Means Freedom NOW
The next big action took place on Independence Day at Jones Beach, the public beach on Long Island. As part of CORE’s summer of 1963 mass demonstrations throughout the NYC metropolitan area, the chapter took on employment by the LI State Park Commission. Its campaign demanded one hundred fifty temporary jobs for the summer, two hundred fifty permanent jobs, and by the next summer of 1964, 1/4 of all jobs to go to Blacks and Puerto Ricans.

While one group demonstrated at the Park Commissioner’s office, forty LI CORE members, some with kids, held a sit in during which they laid down in front of moving cars on a roadway at Jones Beach.

As they were dragged away by police, another seven members went and sat in front of traffic again. When more cops set up a line to block them, the demonstrators scuffled with cops and broke through the line to do it again. Harold Trent (Black, 38) ran into the road with his eight year old daughter Claudia in his arms and was almost hit by a car.
Meanwhile other demonstrators held a kneel in and blocked pedestrian traffic on entrance paths to the beach. Among the protesters were Lynch, his two children, Peter (6) and David (8), Stephanie Ericson (White, 25), Michael Plant (White, 18), and Joyce Bardenave.

Newsday noted that ‘it was obvious to observers’ that the officers were ordered to use restraint. No arrests were made but another demonstration scheduled for four days later was called off because of threats of violence made against LI CORE members. Ruth Schwartz, who got a call ‘threatening to cut her up and hit her children’, also had a basket of fish thrown on her front lawn. Bardenave, who was only fifteen years old, and Plant both got calls in which someone threatened to throw acid in their faces.

While the campaign forced the LI State Park Commission to hear its grievances the only result was a promise to make a strong effort to find non-Whites for jobs.

>>>> Part 3 <<<<