64 turnout and affected mostly all-Negro schools.

In document Political movements : three case studies of protest (Page 160-163)

In addition to protests over job discrimination, slum housing, and de facto school segregation, there were protests over the general problems

of ghetto living. Seven members of East River CORE sat down on the

Triborough Bridge during the evening rush hour; before they were arrested by the police, they were pelted by motorists with invective and with the garbage which they had dumped on the b r i d g e . I n leaflets which they handed out to the inconvenienced commuters, they argued the case of the Negro in the ghetto:

East River CORE is engaging in civil disobedience today

to protest the unsafe and overcrowded schools in East Harlem. We regret to inconvenience people passing through our neigh­ borhood on their way to better sections of the city, but we are both very sorry and angry about the way Negro and Puerto Rican children are treated in the richest city and the wealthiest country in the world.... We are asking that New York commuters stop for a moment to look at Harlem and the people they leave behind, and that they do something about this problem that is not only Harlem's but all America's. CORK has participated in many great marches - all useful in their time and in their way for pug d n g the movement for freedom and equality forward. But now it is necessary to go to the root of this problem, to organ­ ize in local communities, to help make the poor visible and vocal in defense of their rights so they can no longer be

ignored by America's commuters. 66

^ Ibid,, Mar. 2, 1964, p. 1. 64

* Ibid., Mar. 27, 1964, p. 1. ^ Ibid., Mar. 7, 1964, p. 1.

^ Quoted in Nat Hentoff, The New Equality (New York: Viking Press,1964), p p ** 22-23.

The frustration and hostilities of some civil rights activists came to a head at the demonstrations planned for the opening of the W orld’s Fair to be held in New York City. The national office of CORE announced plans to demonstrate at the Fair, a monument to American affluence, that the Negro citizen was not getting his fair share of the glitter and gold. To dramatize its case before the international audience that would be in attendance on opening day, CORE planned to picket before the pavilions of states which practised discrimination, as well as the pavilions of companies that had discriminatory hiring policies


CORE’s announcement was pushed aside by one of its Brooklyn chapters which stated its intention to tie up traffic on the opening day of the Fair: ’’Drive a while for freedom. Take only enough gas to get your car on exhibit on one of these highways [five major arteries leading to the


Fair grounds]". In addition, the chapter announced consideration of a programme of intentional water-wasting as an ultimatum to the city: it would ask all CORE supporters to open their faucets and let the water run, should the proposed stall-in fail to produce immediate working plans on housing, schools, employment and police brutality. A new tactic, it was planned to inconvenience the entire city and not just specific sections within it.

The proposed stall-in provoked sharp disapproval from sections both within and outside of the civil rights movement. Farmer, in announcing

the national office’s suspension of the local chapteVbecause the proposed tactic would "merely create confusion and thus damage the fight for freedom"

t7 NIT

, Apr. 9, 1964, p. 1. ^


,, Apr. 10, 1964, p. 1.

- 156 -

added that the stall-in was "not a relevant confrontation with the power 69

structure.” In a joint declaration, CORE, the NAACP, the Urban League and SNCC accused the stall-in proposal of being neither orderly nor non­ violent and out of step with the general civil rights movement: "It is an essentially revolutionary proposal that might serve the peculiar needs and motives of some of its proponents but not the broad interests and needs of the Negro people in their normally broad program of effective social protest."7^ In reply, Brooklyn CORE said: "We are not promoting violence. We are preventing violence in that if people do not have some healthy

outlet to express their frustrations there will be violence."7'*'

The city authorities began to prepare for the demonstrations: prelimi- 71A

nary sit-ins were thwarted; legal measures were enacted to make it a 7 IB

crime to run out of gas on highways leading to the Fair; an injunction



against the proposed stall-in was granted to the city; provisions were made for towing away stalled cars;7^ the heaviest concentration of traffic


Ibid., Apr. 11, 1964, p. 1.

70 Ibid., Apr. 17, 1964, p. 18. John Lewis of SNCC later retracted his earlier statement of denunciation and applauded the tactics.

Ibid., Apr. 18, 1964, p. 1. See Rustin's letter of sympathetic

criticism, ibid., Apr. 21, 1964, p. 36.

Ibid., Apr. 20, 1964, p. 1. ^^' K~Ibid., Apr. 10, 1964, p. 1.


Ibid., Apr. 15, 1964, p. 1. 11CIhid., Apr. 21, 1964, p. 1.

71DIbid., Apr. 15, 1964, p. 1. However, the head of the sanitation union warned that the ten thousand men in his local would not scao on civil rights workers by towing away their cars.

policemen in the city's history was put on duty; talks were neld with the local CORE chapter to try to settle the dispute; toe public was advised to stay off the roads and ta*e trains to the Fair wherever


In document Political movements : three case studies of protest (Page 160-163)