Malcolm X and CORE NYC (part 2)

Despite their differences with him, members of CORE generally had a favorable opinion of him. Members of the Harlem chapter regularly attended his Saturday outdoor rallies in Harlem. Those from what became its Black Power group went so far as to take it upon themselves to form a secondary perimeter around his stage.(9) Chapter member Sonia Sanchez remembers her attendance as being a transformative experience.(10) Others from Brooklyn CORE such as Jitu Weusi who attended the Harlem rallies and Bob Law who experienced Malcolm X speaking in Brooklyn felt the same.(11)

William Reed from the Harlem chapter appeared with him as a co-panelist at a symposium on the 'Harlem Hate Gang Scare', both agreeing that the matter was something fabricated by the White press.(12)

Even the White members, many of whom were Jewish, were able to both appreciate and be critical of Malcolm X. Sheila Michaels (New York CORE), Tom Hurwitz (SCORE) and Rabbi Kurt Flascher (Brooklyn CORE) were at some of these Harlem rallies.(13) Others such as Mike Flug (Columbia University CORE) remember having positive interactions with him and being able ask him questions with other CORE members after a Harlem rent strike rally.(14) Marlene Nadle of East River CORE interviewed him and wrote what are considered two of the more significant articles done on him, "Malcolm X: The Complexity of a Man in the Jungle," and "Burying Malcolm X".(15)

It is easy to see how there would have been a cross pollination of ideas. Just as CORE members went to his rallies and were studying him, he did the same even if he did not participate in their demonstrations.

At New York CORE's Harlem Hospital demonstrations, James Robinson and others noticing Malcolm standing on the sidelines invited him to join the picket line. Velma Hill remembers him calling her off the line and admonishing her, telling her a woman's place was at home taking care of her husband.(16) News photos show him again on the sidelines at Brooklyn CORE's protests during the construction of SUNY Downstate Medical Center.(17)

He spoke on NBC News in support of the World's Fair Stall In initiated by Brooklyn CORE.(18) Another newsreel shows him speaking against the lack of support from the national CORE office for the second City Wide School Boycott in 1964 which was supported by the local chapters.(19) While he could be quite critical of national CORE's actions he was usually more supportive of the local chapters.

One speech that demonstrates this and just how closely Malcolm X was paying attention to CORE concerned Bronx CORE's campaign against the White Castle fast food chain in July of 1963.(20) Besides referencing other CORE demonstrations, the speech is also interesting for his condemnation of 'the Jews', the liberal Jews in NYC and in particular, the Jews in CORE.

In his estimation, 'the Jews' were trying to capitalize off of the Black freedom struggle for their own purposes. Many Jews (as did the majority of Whites) did abandon the civil rights movement after it shifted to Black Power. That being said, Jewish members had made up the majority of White members in many of the NYC chapters, especially the college chapters. During that time, Jews donated the majority of money to CORE's fund raising efforts.

As in all of the other CORE demonstrations Malcolm voiced support for, there were Jewish members involved in Bronx CORE's demonstration. He was still completely dismissive of their contributions to the movement, from national leaders such as Marv Rich to local leaders such as Margorie Leeds, one of the founders of Brooklyn CORE which at the time was arguably the city's most militant civil rights group.

The question then becomes 'Why'? I would suggest his statements are part of the NOI's larger criticism of 'the Jews' as hypocrites. As a people who claim to be the historical victims of racism and discrimination they have often been as guilty of such behavior against Black people in America. Jewish store owners and landlords in Black communities in particular were often pointed to as examples.

The United Federation of Teachers was a mostly Jewish union that was run by a former Jewish member of CORE, Al Shanker. Its actions against the Black activists fighting for community control of the NYC public schools during the late 1960's would only lend credibility to the beliefs of the NOI and criticisms of Malcolm X.

Malcolm's comments, though, were a sort of blanket condemnation that did not distinguish between Jewish individuals and organizations that participated in this type of behavior and those that did not. For example, there were Jewish members of CORE who had been in the UFT or were allied against the UFT that did not agree with the UFT's actions and specifically spoke against them.

There were Jewish members of CORE such as New York CORE's Joanne Shane and Brooklyn CORE's Arnie Goldwag and Kurt Flasher, 'the rebel rabbi', who also saw the racist actions of such landlords as hypocritical.(21) These activists went out of their way to specifically demonstrate against them so that there would be a record of Jews who disagreed with such practices. Because these were isolated protests, Malcolm may not have known about these incidents since they did not receive the same amount of press that CORE's demonstrations against the construction industry did. He could not have known about the murder of Downtown CORE's Mickey Schwerner that would take place in Mississippi a year after this speech. He also could not have known about the large number of Black children that would soon be born to many of the Jewish activists in CORE who partnered with Black spouses.

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