Marvin Rich, CORE
( — 2018)


As remembered by David "Dave" Dennis
January 5, 2019

On the morning of December 29, 2018, I received the following message from Evelyn Rich:

"Marvin Rich, a champion for civil rights and equality, died after a long illness on 12/29/2018. He leaves behind a devoted wife, Evelyn Jones Rich, a son, Gordon (deceased), a daughter-in-law, MaryAnn, and two grandsons, Alexander and Maximilian (wife: Ellen Ricciardi)."

Both Marvin and Evie played important roles in the Civil Rights Movement and both are part of that special group of people who made many sacrifices in the struggle for justice and made personal contributions to the movement that made major changes that helped shape the Civil Rights Movement.

I met Marvin and Evie on my first trip to New York in the summer of 1961 as a Freedom Rider from the New Orleans chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). At that time Marvin was the Public Relations Director for the national office of CORE that was based in New York. It was my first trip to New York and, in fact, to the North. I quickly found myself on the receiving-end of many jokes as the less experienced young man from the South. On my second trip to New York the following October I wore a seersucker suit — it was 80 degrees in Louisiana and in the 30's in New York. That error is forever etched in my memory. Marvin took the time to teach me the "ropes" and guide me through the maze that was this new environment.

Marvin teamed me with Jerome Smith to work with such people as James Baldwin and Lorraine Hansberry to help raise funds to support the Freedom Rides and to recruit new Freedom Riders. He was always there when CORE field secretaries needed something from the national office — always there in time of need. He was our life line. He maintained contact with the national political leaders who were sympathetic to what we were doing.

Although he was based in New York with the tremendous responsibility of raising funds to support the CORE activities nationally and to manage all the important affairs of CORE, he made frequent visits to the South. One of those trips to Mississippi in 1964 resulted in his being severely beaten as he observed a voter registration demonstration in Holmes County.

After leaving CORE in 1965, I joined Marvin as part of his staff when he was the director of the Southern Education Defense Fund for Racial Equality (SEDFRE) that was initiating voter registration drives across the South. Marvin also made it possible for me to receive the necessary funds to return to college and complete my undergraduate and post graduate work. I will be forever grateful.

More important than his role in the Civil Rights Movement was Marvin, the family man. He and Evie were and are models of what love and family should be. Marvin was like a big brother to me. One of my most memorable moments with Marvin was when my wife and I visited Evie and Marvin a couple of years ago. Marvin was having some health problems and Evie informed us that Marvin might have problems remembering me. When we arrived at the door, Marvin gave me that great grin and hug and called my name. You never forget friendship and love. He has been and will always be my rock. Thanks Evie for sharing him with us.

Marvin is one of those "under sung" heroes we cannot let the world forget. He was and will always be special. LOVE YOU.


As remembered by Mario Marcel Salas
January 6, 2019

I never personally knew Marvin Rich, but I know he was a dedicated man that sought to make the human spirit fight for a better world. He endeavored, struggled, and battled for the dignity of humankind. We should be apprehensive for those marginalized and left in vulnerable positions. This is our responsibility to our brothers and sisters; to make the world anew with thoughts and actions that fortify the human spirit. Marvin Rich was a man that fought on the frontline in the war against racism and we honor his spirit, that it may thrive in us.


As remembered by James Marshall
January 9, 2019

By Way of Remembrance,

The passing of Marvin Rich has left a deeply felt hole in me after many years of warm and deeply felt memories. Although I only worked with Marvin at National CORE in 1963-64, I maintained contact with him and Evie from that time until today. Working with Marvin was an important part of my civil rights experience. He taught me the art of community relations and encouraged me to learn and grow in not only publicizing what CORE was doing but also to reach out and work with other organizers in The March for Democratic Schools in New York City under the leadership of Bayard Rustin, at the Opening of the New York World's Fair in Flushing, New York, in working with the labor movement in hospital organizing, and in organizing for a civilian review board of the New York City Police and more.

Although I lived abroad from 1967 to 1989 I still kept in contact with Marvin and Evie in 1986 and after returning to the United States in 1989.

Over the years Marvin encouraged me in my research and both he and Evie extended their hospitality to my family and me on a number of occasions.

Jim Marshall
The Mississippi Civil Rights Movement and the Kennedy Administration, 1960- 1964: A History in Documents (2018)
Student Activism and Civil Rights in Mississippi: Protest Politics and the Struggle for Racial Justice, 1960-1965 (2013)

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