As explained in About the Civil Rights Movement Archive, this website was created to document and preserve the history of the Southern Freedom Movement — meaning the Civil Rights Movement as it occurred in the South. We chose not to cover the northern wing of the Movement because few of us in Bay Area Veterans of the Civil Rights Movement had much direct experience in the North and because, with one exception, we did not have any significant collection of northern materials to begin with. That one exception was the documents I had preserved from the Los Angeles protests of 1963-1964 in which I was an active participant. We had hoped that activists from the northern wing of the Movement would create a sister-site (or sites) to ours, but that is just now beginning to materialize (see Northern Wing of the Civil Rights Movement). So in order to preserve this history and make it available online as an example of what was simultaneously occurring in the North while we were struggling in the South, I'm making an exception to our southern focus by posting these documents from L.A. (See the first two chapters of "Troublemaker" Memories of the Freedom Movement for my personal narrative of the history that these documents chronicle.)
— Bruce Hartford, Webspinner
Founded in 1909, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was the oldest civil rights organization in America. Most of its northern chapters were predominantly Black but with a significant number of white members and leaders (many of whom were Jews). The first Los Angeles NAACP was formed in 1914. It was one of the oldest in the western United States. Like most NAACP chapters in the North in the 1960s, it was primarily composed of Black and white professionals (clergy, doctors, teachers, business owners, etc) and its main activities were legal defense, anti-discrimination lawsuits, and legislative lobbying. In line with the national NAACP's views, as a general rule it did not favor direct action protests such as sit-ins, though it did on occassion support moderate, issue-oriented mass marches.
The Western Christian Leadership Conference (WCLC) was formed in the mid-1950s to support the Montgomery Bus Boycott. It was composed almost entirely of African-American and a few white clergymen and its primary focus was raising funds for Dr. King's Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) was formed by pacificsts and labor activists in Chicago in the early 1940s to be a direct action organization (in contrast to the NAACP's lawsuits & lobbying strategy). As a general rule, the membership of most northern CORE chapters was usually more or less equally comprised of Afro-Americans and whites (though the membership of college CORE chapters usually reflected the racial makeup of the institution which mean that most campus CORE groups were largely white).
The first Los Angeles Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) chapter was formed in the early 1940s. But it was unable overcome factionalism or sustain itself against "Red Scare" assaults on liberal and integrationist groups. A new LA CORE chapter was resurrected in the 1950s. It took on segregation in public accommodations, employment discrimination, and restricted housing. The 1960 student sit-ins in the South, followed by the Freedom Rides in 1961 increased public awarness of nonviolent protests and publicized CORE. This resulted in a wave of new CORE members who were younger and less likely to be middle-class professionals with established careers.
In the early '60s, LA CORE took action against employment discrimination and segregated housing while simultaneously supporting the southern struggle by picketing Woolworths, recruiting Freedom Riders, and sending relief supplies to the Fayette County TN tent city. The national attention to civil rights sparked by Dr. King's Birmingham Campaign in the Spring of 1963 swelled LA CORE's active members to well over 75, and spurred the formation of satellite chapters in dispersed communities such as Venice, Long Beach, Pacoima, and Pasadena, along with campus chapters at colleges such as UCLA and LA State College. By mid-1963, these multiple chapters were energized by campaigns against segregated housing, defacto school segregation, employment discrimination, and police malpractice & brutality.
But by the end of 1963, while the central LA CORE chapter's active membership was approaching 150 it had become divided into two rival factions who disagreed on how hard to push nonviolent direct action protests. At the end of that year, the more militant faction left LA CORE to form the Non-Violent Action Committee (N-VAC). Throughout 1964, the large and active UCLA "Bruin" CORE chapter generally aligned itself with N-VAC while LA CORE and most of the satellite chapters remained allied with the NAACP, WCLC, and ACLU in the United Civil Rights Committee (UCRC) which N-VAC and Bruin CORE were not invited to join. While pursuing different strategies and tactics, the two alliances "agreed to disagree" and often cooperated with each other on campaigns and joined each other's protests.
[A note on language: In the 1960s, social-justice activists commonly used the word "ghetto" for Afro-American neighborhoods — particularly in the urban north — as a way of calling attention to involuntary residential segregation, economic exploitation, systemic poverty, and police repression. In some contexts, ghetto was also a term of defiant community pride. Today, some folks now use "ghetto" as a disparaging pejorative, as in "that's so ghetto." On this site we use "ghetto" as it was used in the 1960s.]
Background: Northern Residential Segregation
1963 CORE Southwest Realty Board Supports Segregation, CORE flyer ("southwest" refers to an area of L.A. county). Undated 1963 1963 CORE Press release about real estate tycoon Don Wilson, unsigned LA CORE. June 28 1963 1963 CORE Press release protesting Torrance town curfew to block protests,unsigned LA CORE. July 10 1963 1964 Rumford Act case data for first year, unsigned. As of September 19, 1964
Background: Northern Defacto School Segregation
???? LAUSD Dilworth Act Relating to Communist-Party Membership, school board's legal basis for "Loyalty Oath." 1962 LAUSD Board rule requiring Loyalty Oath, J.P. Crowther, L.A. Unified School District. Possibly March 1962 1963 CORE Segregated Schools in Los Angeles, 32-page pamphlet. Kenneth Fry, CORE Education Committee. Undated (probably fall of 1963) 1963 UCRC Act Now! Flyer against school segregation. Unsigned UCRC. Undated (probably 1963) 1963 UCRC Flyer against school segregation. Unsigned UCRC. Undated (probably 1963 1963 CORE Yes, There IS School Segregation Here flyer. LA CORE. September 19 1963 1963 CORE Flyer for Fourth Study-In, unsigned CORE. October 24 1963 1963 CORE Report on All Night Sit-in at Board of Education, Bruce Hartford, N-VAC/Bruin CORE. November 2 1963 1963 LAUSD Response mailing to protesters, Georgiana Hardy, President BoE. November 7 1963 1964? CORE For Whom the (School) Bell Tolls, flyer opposing school segregation, Pasadena CORE. Undated (Possibly 1964)
Background: Northern Job Discrimination
1963 CORE Note to Bruin CORE re White-Only job notice at sorority, anonymous. Undated (probably fall 1963) 1963 CORE Don't Support Job Discrimination, unsigned CORE (later N-VAC) against Wichstand drive-in. December 1963 1964 CORE Safeway negotiations with CORE, E.A. Saunders, Safeway, press-release by L.A. CORE. January 30 1964 1964 CORE Safeway Gives in to CORE's Demands, membership bulletin. Unsigned L.A. CORE. February 1 1964 1964 N-VAC Fact Sheet on Van De Kamp's Action, unsigned. Undated (probably March 1964) 1964 UCRC Dear Friend mailing re agreement with Ralph's Stores, Earl Walter, UCRC. March 17 1964 1964 N-VAC N-VAC employment demands presented to Van de Kamp's, unsigned. Undated (probably mid-February 1964) 1964 N-VAC Revised Employment Statistics of Van de Kamp's, Bruce Hartford, N-VAC. Undated (probably early February 1964) 1964 N-VAC Don't Buy Van De Kamp's, first boycott flyer, unsigned. Undated (probably February 20th or 21st 1964) 1964 N-VAC Boycott of Van de Kamp's Called for Thursday, unsigned N-VAC press release (probably by Mari Goldman). February 19, 1964 1964 CORE Why We Are Demonstrating! unsigned L.A. CORE flyer re employment discrimination by radio station KFWB. April 4, 1964 1964 UCRC Dear Friend mailing re negotiations and action against Thriftymart, Earl Walter, UCRC. April 27 1964 1964 UCRC Boycott Thriftymart Stores flyer, unsigned UCRC. April 29 1964 1964 UCRC Dear Friend mailing re shop-ins and protests against Thriftymart Stores, Brookins & Walter, UCRC. July 13 1964
Background: Northern Police Abuse & Brutality
1963 CORE Chief Parker resign! Mother's Day party flyer, unsigned. May 9 1963 1964 CORE Chief Parker Resign! flyer opposing police brutality & malpractice. Unsigned CORE. May 5 1964 1964 N-VAC Letter to Ad-Hoc Committee to End Discrimination (S.F. Bay Area) regarding police, arrests & trials. Bruce Hartford, undated (probably October 1964)
1964 CORE Anti-Segregation Amendment Action Timetable, Bruin CORE flyer. February 21, 1964 1964 N-VAC Shall We Vote on Democracy???, unsigned N-VAC. Undated, probably October 1964 1964 N-VAC Excerpt from Focus on Cambridge by Gloria Richardson. Unsigned N-VAC background info re Prop-14 boycott call. Undated, probably October 1964 1965 N-VAC Political Program, unsigned N-VAC. Undated 1965 1965 N-VAC Boycott, Baby, Boycott: N-VAC 16 Point Program, Unsigned. Undated 1965
1963 CORE Welcome to CORE, flyer for new members. Undated 1963 1963 CORE Bruin CORE recruitment flyer, unsigned, undated (probably fall or winter 1963) 1963 CORE Anti-Bruin CORE flyer attacking Bruin CORE, unsigned. Undated (probably fall or winter 1963) 1963 CORE LA CORE organizing calendar July 1963 1963 CORE So You Are Willing to Be Arrested, LA CORE arrestee form. Undated (probably September 1963) 1963 CORE Duties of Monitors, protest instructions. Unsigned LA CORE. Undated (probably Fall 1963) 1963 CORE Support for CORE Action Projects, Woody Coleman L.A. CORE Action Committee. October 1963 1963 CORE Action Committee Memo & Agenda, Woody Coleman L.A. CORE. October 14, 1963 1964 N-VAC Notes on the History of the Non-Violent Action Committee, Bruce Hartford (N-VAC), November 1964 1964 N-VAC Arrest consent & instructions form, Unsigned, N-VAC. Undated 1964
1963? NYC What You Should Know to Get Rid of Rats, New York City Dept. of Health. Undated (possibly 1963) 1963 CORE Press release supporting Hopi tribe in obtaining justice from federal government, Unsigned L.A. CORE. November 18, 1964 1964 Communists and the U.S. Negro, editorial linking civil rights activities to communism, Los Angeles Times. September 1, 1964