Offie C. Wortham

CORE, NAACP, SCLC, SNCC, Alabamba, Georgia, Mississippi
37 Granite Street
Barre, VT 05641
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Civil Rights Activities
Offie C. Wortham

Offie Cherry Wortham has had a long and honorable history with the civil and human rights movement. From 1954 to 1958 he was the President of the Peekskill NAACP Youth Council. The chapter became the largest and most active in New York State. Wortham was appointed coordinator for all the Youth Councils in Westchester County, and Chairman of the NAACP New York State Action Committee. During this period he was the first and only Black in the two and one half year IBM Apprenticeship Program in Computer Electronics in Poughkeepsie.

At the 1958 National NAACP Convention Wortham chaired the Youth Workshop on Community Organization. He was guide and chaperone for the Little Rock Nine when they and Daisy Bates came to New York and stayed at the Waldolph Astoria to receive the Freedom Award at the National Convention. Wortham was also selected by Bayard Rustin, A. Philip Randolph, Jackie Robinson, Martin Luther King, and Roy Wilkins to represent the NAACP Youth on a special delegation of eight, headed by Harry Belafonte, to see President Eisenhower at the White House in 1958. After attending the Encampment for Citizenship in NY, Wortham left his position in advanced research at IBM to become more involved in the Civil Rights Movement.

While majoring in Physics at Antioch College in Ohio, on a scholarship from the United Negro College Fund, Wortham combined the college's chapters of SNCC, CORE, SCLC and the NAACP into one organization called the Antioch Civil Rights Organization, the biggest civil rights group on any college campus during the 60's. All paid the NAACP membership dues, and eventually over 700 of the 1100 students on campus were members of the NAACP. Only 8 of the students were Black! This was the largest and one of the most active NAACP college chapter in the history of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States.

The organization, along with Black students recruited from nearby Central State and Wilberforce, forcefully integrated bowling allies, movie theaters, restaurants, and roller skating rinks throughout southern Ohio. Wortham was also coordinator for all college chapters in Ohio. He and others from Antioch were very active in Mississippi and Georgia in demonstrations and organizational meetings in the early 60's. The Supreme Court of Ohio eventually ruled against a barber who refused to cut Dr. Wortham's hair. While attending San Francisco State in the mid 60's, Wortham was the representative for the Black Student Union to the college's student council, college Ambassador to the Model United Nations, and a member of the first Teach-In in the country against the war in Vietnam.

After college, Dr. Wortham was the Youth Advisor for the NAACP Youth Councils in Santa Monica, California; Loudoun County, Virginia; and White Plains, NY.

Dr. Wortham has a BA degree in International Relations and Political Science from San Francisco State University, a Masters in Community Psychology from Marist College, and a Doctorate in Higher Education with a concentration in Interracial Education, from The Union Institute.

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