Origins, part 2

Many, perhaps rightly so, do not see CORE today as the 'real' CORE. One member went so far as to say that national director Roy Innis simply hijacked the name. Many believe that CORE really ended by 1966 as it went to Black Power and definitely by 1968 when the Whites were thrown out.

Black Power
Black Power as it manifested in CORE was seen as problematic because it went against the central pillars of CORE - it rejected integration as a goal and advocated self defense through violence if neccesary. Many would argue it was the reason for the organization's demise.

Even though many of the older members would disagree, CORE was still a viable organization and doing a lot of good. Up until 1968, there were still Whites (although very few) in the national office and some chapters.

According to then national director Floyd McKissick, the six points of Black Power in CORE were:
1. the growth of negro political power
2. the building of negro economic power
3. the improvement of the negro self image
4. the development of negro leadership
5. the encouragement of federal law enforcement
6. the mobilization of negro consumer power

"Black power is not Black supremacy, Black violence and Black hatred for the White man." The overwhelming emphasis was on putting Black people in political office, putting Black and Latino people into positions of power in the public school system and putting Black and Latino studies in the curriculum.

When it came to politics, CORE was framing its demands very much in the American tradition - "an ethnic group banding together to engage in bloc voting and bloc competition". It emphasized organizing blacks into a Black power group similar to how American Italians, Jews, Irish, etc. had in order to achieve these goals.

It should be noted that not all members who went Black Power would be considered Black nationalists, such as Harlem CORE's Joe Jackson. The difference between the two, which was a thin line, has much to do with the nationalists' concentration on separatism and culture. The Nation of Islam, for example, was not a Black Power organization in that it did not participate in partisan politics and had its own schools.

There were also different forms of Black nationalism. There was the more conservative nationalism advocated by leaders like McKissick, Roy Innis and Long Island CORE's Mel Jackson which focused more on economic power for liberation. Members like Brooklyn CORE's Jitu Weusi advocated a more cultural nationalism that focused on education and culture as the keys to Black liberation, especially for children. Others like Sonny Carson of Brooklyn CORE identified themselves as revolutionary nationalists. Similar to the Black Panther Party (BPP), he advocated socialism and the overthrow of the United States government which was seen as fundamentally corrupt. While the BPP was a Black power organization, it did not advocate nationalism. Carson, however, was a member of both simultaneously. Again, it was sometimes a thin line.

Ironically, it was the White members in many ways who started CORE down this path in their conscious decision to have Black leaders of both the local chapters and national organization.

There were also some White members who felt the same as the Black members in that the cause of freedom was not moving fast enough. They formed what can be seen as White alternatives to 'CORE as Black Power' with groups such as the Weathermen (which included Eleanor Stein of Brooklyn SCORE and David Gilbert of Columbia University CORE) which advocated armed resistance.

Then there is the curious case of the American Committee on Africa (ACOA), which in many ways was a spin off of CORE. ACOA supported Black Power overseas even though it was made up primarily of members from CORE who were against Black Power within CORE and in some ways how Black nationalism manifested in the United States.