Other CORE Chapters

Mount Vernon CORE part 3
Maslow's resignation as well as the coverage in the press were heavily criticized by Herbert for not taking the time to learn and report on both sides of the story. His letter noted there was practically no discussion as to what Mount Vernon's BOE was doing, the racist statements of its president and other audience members or what groups they belong to. This and other CORE documents discussed details that had not been by the dissenting members of CORE's advisory board or the White newspapers like the New York Times.

One example is how a White audience member at the February 3 BOE meeting disrespected Black U.S. soldiers.

The Amsterdam News reported on February 12 that the fight at that meeting started over a photo that was shown of a Black soldier who was the first from Mount Vernon to die in Vietnam. After a Black audience member stated that he was sure he 'did not die for segregated schools', a White member of the audience responded 'I wish they had killed two of you.'

The American Jewish Congress (AJC) in its statement released on Febrauary 18, acknowledges some 'hot words' were said and that 'some residents... who are Jewish' were among those fighting against de-segregation. Little to nothing was said about the critical comments which came from Whites in the audience, nor was there mention of its own investigation into the context of Brown's statement. The AJC's statement implied that CORE's investigation into the context was tantamount to Brown's remark being 'swept under the rug'.

The AJC confirmed it was Farmer's response that caused Maslow to resign. Maslow's letter not only states he was more upset by Farmer's response, he strongly suggested that Brown's remark was worse than the school boards actions in not desegregating. While the AJC implied that Maslow's resignation may not have been the wise move, it also generally condemned CORE and Farmer's response. The AJC's statement, titled, "Negroes and Jews" starts off with, 'The problem of Negro anti-semitism is...' . While the implication is that Blacks were clearly at fault and Maslow's resignation may have been an over reaction, The AJC still suggested the two communities should continue to work together. Ironically, another AJC paper in 1964 stated anti-Semitism did not exist in CORE on the national level.

The February 19 meeting of the local CORE Regional Action Council (RAC) continued looking into the background of the issue. Included in the minutes was the claim that Hawkins was 'almost manhandled' and a discussion of who exactly made up the coalition of groups opposing the de-segregation of Mount Vernon's public schools: the local PAT, an Italian American group, and the John Birch society, among others. The John Birch Society was a right wing group that opposed the civil rights movement. It not only claimed the movement was part of a communist plot to destroy America, it went so far as to claim the civil rights movement was created by the Communist Party. The mostly White Parent and Taxpayers group opposed the forced integration of the NYC public schools. Brooklyn CORE's Arnie Goldwag in two oral history interviews identified the Queens PAT chapter as front and a support group for the Ku Klux Klan.

As the RAC acknowledged that Mount Vernon at the time could have been a hot spot for potential riots, another article came out in that day's Amsterdam News stating Farmer supported reports concerning statements from the White audience members that led to Brown's remarks. He confirmed, 'It was in this context... that Brown made hhis follow up remark'.

Brown began his resignation letter by saying he had gone against own instincts to work within the guidelines of CORE. He states, "I inherently and firmly believe that... Black people must assert themselves to the point of violence if necessary to fight discrimination and the denial of rights'. CORE would shortly become a Black Power organization in which it accepted the use of violence in self defence, but it had not at the time his letter was written.

Mount Vernon CORE not only supported Brown, but nominated him vice-chairman. Brown declined the nomination but did later ask to be allowed back into the chapter.

McKissick implied it was Brown's stance on the use of violence and his nomiination as reasons he might not allow Mount Vernon CORE to be affiliated.

On May 28, the New York Times reported McKissick sent a telegram to Mount Vernon CORE's interim chairman, Mrs. Jackie Mcleod, expelling the chapter. Among the reasons cited were the hours lost on the issue of Brown's remark and the fact that Isabel Hawkins had resigned as had other members who felt the "chapter was discriminating against them because they were on welfare".

Perhaps most worthy among the reasons for this decision was the fact that the situation had an effect on CORE's fund raising activity at a time when the organization was $200,000 in debt. The overwhelming amount of financial contributions had traditionally come from Jewish organizations and individuals.

By August it was being reported that the chapter had only been suspended and was being reorganized under new leadership. Its chairman, Mary E. Williams, had reapplied for affiliation and its office was still at 59 West 3rd street. Herb Callender oversaw the chapter getting back on its feet.

A letter from Herb Callender to all CORE chairs in discussing the problems of Mount Vernon and its local CORE chapter acknowledged that there was a "strong feeling of anti-semitism that has crept into the Negro community" and that a Jewish group had donated $100 to the chapter to rent an office. While the letter pointed out CORE could not "condone or vindicate" Brown's statements, the Jewish community should know that more than a financial contribution was "needed to maintain good faith".