Long Island CORE
Black Power

Lincoln Lynch became one of eight NYC CORE leaders that made up a disproportionate percentage of the national CORE leadership during its Black Power phase.

While still an active member of LI CORE, he was replaced by the Texas born Mel Jackson (Black, 33). An electronics engineer with degrees from Howard and Northwestern Universities, he had formerly served as a youth adviser for a local NAACP.

According to Newsday, the NAACP’s thirteen chapters in Nassau and Suffolk had 5000 members that were mostly inactive. L.I. CORE had 400 members with an average of 50 people at its meetings, Suffolk County CORE had 550 and averaged 100 at meetings. During Black Power however, several local NAACP leaders left their positions like Jackson to become leaders within CORE on Long Island, usually as members of LI CORE.

Dan Hester became Jackson’s vice chairman. Other officers included Edward Stark, Gloria Weinberg and Luenetta Miller. James Rudd, an air force veteran of the Korean War, dropped out of LI CORE after losing to Jackson in the election for chairman.

Don't Forget About Suffolk County CORE
1966 also saw the beginning of a direct effort to tackle the issue of police brutality in Long Island. It succeeded in getting a grand jury hearing into its complaints of police brutality in Long Beach where there were no Blacks or Puerto Ricans on the police force. Suffolk County CORE and a district judge attempted to create an experimental program where non-White ‘indigent defendants who are jailed because they can’t afford bail’ would instead be released into the custody of CORE.

Suffolk County CORE had picketed Newsday in mid-1965 for reporting former chairman Calvin Cobb was arrested for stealing money from a cousin and suspected in the loss of $275,00 of church funds during an office fire. Interestingly, LI CORE did not support the protests. Newsday over the years provided fantastic coverage of CORE in Long Island even though its editorials were often less than supportive. Managing editor Anthony Insolia was the husband of Joyce Insolia, an early member of LI CORE and officer in Suffolk County CORE.

Even though Lynch fought hard to desegregate the Malverne school district for years, he became less an advocate for integration and more for the improvement of the education offered. ‘To hell with the idea that a Black child sitting next to a White child would, ipso facto, get him to learn better.’ ‘That is incorrect. I think there is a need for Black people to be themselves, to be Black, to think Black.’

The change had been gradual. A few months earlier, LI CORE had started its own pre-kindergarden program as part of the federal Operation: Head Start. A former head of a local NAACP objected to the program as being segregated because it focused on poor Blacks. There were a few White students, though, and staff such as LI CORE members Richard Lowe and Annette Triquere who supervised the program.

Lynch supported CORE’s new direction emphasizing the inclusion of Black history in the curriculum and seeking local control of segregated school districts. ‘Since schools are segregated anyway, let Blacks control their own school districts.’ In October, LI CORE succeeded in ousting the school superintendent from the school board in Roosevelt whose policies were considered discriminatory towards Blacks. According to Newsday, he alleged he was the victim of racial discrimination instead.

Peace and Politiks
Several CORE members ran for political office in 1967. The United for Peace Party had previously run candidates against the Vietnam War. In Nassau, it ran Long Island CORE members Lamar Cox vice chair for county controller, Rev. V. Loma St. Clair for presiding supervisor and Harold Trent for supervisor. Suffolk County CORE’s Irwin Quintyne and his vice chair John Urquhart were run for Babylon Town Council.

This was part of LI CORE’s four point program to run Blacks for town and county offices in Long Island. Mel Jackson had been accused of being a racist in Newsday because he threatened to encourage Blacks to register as independents unless both the Republican and Democratic parties included Blacks on their tickets. As he stated in the press though, “Black Power is not a slogan but a program”.

Ironically, there was a fight between Jackson and his former opponent in LI CORE James Rudd at Rev. St. Clair’s campaign office. According to Newsday, Jackson was speaking to a reporter when Rudd and another man interrupted. While Rudd escorted the reporter out the room, the other man attacked Jackson with a chair and held him against the wall with the chair’s legs. Rudd announced, ‘CORE speaks for the middle class and it is time for the little man to speak for himself”. Jackson later responded, ‘CORE is made up of little people’.

Rudd, who had also interrupted Rev. St. Clair’s earlier press conference, was then the executive director of the village of Hempsted’s Employment Opportunity Corporation (EOC), a privately sponsored job finding program created ‘to offset the threat of riots by finding jobs for Young Negroes’. It was pressure from LI CORE that led to the creation of the program with local businessmen.

Lynch resigned at the end of the year from CORE and was replaced by Roy Innis, former chairman of Harlem CORE. Both ex-military men, they had similar views on the use of violence as self defense within CORE. The assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in April, 1968 was seen as the last straw and a turning point. As Lynch stated in the press, ‘unconditional non-violence is dead’. In LI CORE, Mel Jackson was known for having a security detail uniformed in matching dashikis.

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