After reading about the Civil Rights and Women’s Liberation movements, you should have a solid understanding of women’s and African Americans’ critiques of the “American Dream” in the 1950s and 1960s, as well as the context of the Cold War that helped launch both movements.

For this thread, I’d like you to choose either women’s liberation OR African American’s/Civil Rights groups and answer the following questions.  (And yes, I realize that this isn’t a very intersectional approach, especially since women of color were often involved in both movements.  Gay, lesbian and queer folks were also usually rendered invisible in these critiques.  Feel free to address this in your posts if you’d like!)

But for now, choose one group and answer the following questions:

  •  Both women’s libs groups AND civil rights groups protested the lack of economic, social and political equality that other (predominantly white, male) Americans had during the 1950s. What specific critiques did you find the most interesting, disturbing, important, etc.?  Why?
  • Like any social movement, people utilized a variety of approaches and strategies in combatting social inequality and exploitation.  What SPECIFIC techniques, criticisms, or tactics did you find interesting or successful (i.e., radical or liberal?)  Why?
  • What did you learn about the relationship between consumer culture/advertising/capitalism and your social movement? 
  • Conclude with a discussion question (or maybe ask your peers to help you rethink some of your ideas?) so that folks can reply thoughtfully to your post!

You should engage with a minimum of two texts in your response.  Your initial response should be thoughtful and engaged – this is a pivotal part of the class so please write a focused, clear and thoughtful response that engages directly with ideas/examples/arguments from the texts.

The “Not-Buying Power” of the Black Community: Urban Boycotts and Equal Employment
Opportunity, 1960-1964
Author(s): Stacy Kinlock Sewell
Reviewed work(s):
Source: The Journal of African American History, Vol. 89, No. 2, African Americans and the
Urban Landscape (Spring, 2004), pp. 135-151
Published by: Association for the Study of African American Life and History, Inc.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4134097 .
Accessed: 14/03/2013 19:24

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THE “NOT-BUYING POWER” OF THE
BLACK COMMUNITY:

URBAN BOYCOTTS AND EQUAL
EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY,

1960-1964

by Stacy Kinlock Sewell*

Protesters representing the NAACP shouted, “Don’t stop, don’t shop, till the flag drops”
in 2002, as they publicized a multiyear tourism boycott against South Carolina. These

protesters demanded a modification of the state’s flag, which bears the Confederate emblem.
It is an ongoing protest, one of several economic boycotts launched recently by the NAACP.
Other national boycotts, including a five-month action against the Adam’s Mark Hotel
chain, have been concluded, and a boycott against major television networks, which cast
few African Americans in principal roles, was threatened but not initiated. Although they
expressed concern for the African American-owned businesses in South Carolina, many
newspaper editorials and columnists agreed that such boycotts were justified, necessary,
and potentially very effective.1 It is significant to recall that boycotts as a civil rights
strategy did not always meet with such widespread approbation. The NAACP itself looked
askance at some of the boycotts launched in the 1950s and 1960s that sought to expand
employment opportunities for African Americans. The public support for economic demands
was a gamble for an organization that preferred a legal or political approach to civil
rights. But urban and economic realities, combined with a new assertiveness among
activists, gave prominence to this strategy, particularly in matters involving employment
opportunities.

Boycotts have been one weapon long used by protesters seeking economic rights, and
this strategy has been integral to 20th century civil rights protests in the urban North.
Chicago, Detroit, and New York City all experienced consumer boycotts that aimed to win
employment for African Americans, both before and after World War 11.2 These boycotts-
far from receiving media approval-divided African American leaders and sparked
competition among civil rights groups. Civil rights history has addressed rivalry in the
movement, but it has been limited largely to the southern struggles or to individual
personalities and leaders. Rivalry, furthermore, has been viewed as a sign of
disintegration, not as a creative force. However, this emphasis does not fully consider the
ways in which competition among activists and organizations transformed the strategies
and shifted the goals of the movement itself.3

Stacy Kinlock Sewell is Assistant Professor of History at St. Thomas Aquinas College in Sparkill, NY.

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Boycotts in the 1960s reveal conflict among civil rights proponents because their
actions began to command real potential in procuring jobs. The federal government and self-

proclaimed progressive business leaders had demonstrated a rhetorical eagerness, if not a
real commitment, to equal employment opportunity that civil rights leaders hoped would
lead to more substantive racial integration in the workplace. Urban protesters began to use
what some considered to be militant tactics: results-oriented strategies that called for
affirmative action and racial proportionalism. The effect of this division caused activists to

struggle with one another and against employers over the nature of quotas and goals,
preferential treatment, and compensatory action. Indeed, remedies for employment
discrimination can be seen, in part, as a product of this competition.4

In the early 1960s, activists were just beginning to develop a language of “affirmative
action.” That phrase, first used in an Executive Order by President John F. Kennedy in

1961, found currency among civil rights groups then engaged in street protests and

negotiations with employers.5 While the Kennedy administration declined to provide a

specific definition of affirmative action in theory or practice, militant ministers and
activists from the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) did. Affirmative action was needed
as compensation for past discrimination; employers who refused to hire minority workers
should give preference to nonwhite job seekers to remedy past discriminatory practices.
Such a rationale gave their actions a radical cast that offended some liberal civil rights
supporters. Thus the NAACP and the National Urban League, as well as some CORE

moderates, remained circumspect regarding the strategies pursued by some of their fellow
activists. By the mid-1960s, however, such difference among civil rights groups appears to
have been productive. The language of “affirmative action,” though not yet widely used,
would soon become common parlance, not only among supporters of the Civil Rights
Movement, but also in government and corporate personnel operations.

This essay explores the contest that ensued between civil rights moderates and
militants who sought jobs for African Americans. The locus of this contest was the
consumer boycott, the weapon of choice for urban ministers’ movements and CORE activists
who demanded employers change their hiring practices. As the demands of street protesters,
ministers, and moderates escalated and competitive relationships developed among these

groups, each believing it was more qualified to express the assumed singular needs of the

black community. That very competition, as well shall see, was vital to the movement.

An overt racial consciousness became an element in the demands for jobs. This aspect
of protest, viewed as reckless militancy by some, also provided a means to gauge results.

The picket line that gathered outside of Brandt’s Liquors on 145th Street in Harlem in the

summer of 1959 provides an example. Like the “Don’t buy where you can’t work” campaigns
of the 1930s, this picket line aspired to open up jobs in a predominantly black

neighborhood. The protesters accused area retailers of restricting black liquor salesmen to

designated establishments. The activists reasoned that because white areas of the city were

reserved for white salesmen, Harlem should be the exclusive province of black salesmen. To

the national leaders of the NAACP, the underlying demand was abhorrent; it was

“segregation if anything is.” Roy Wilkins deplored the boycotters’ effort to secure “the

exclusive rights to territory on a racial basis.” That this boycott had its inception within a

chapter of the NAACP is in itself remarkable, and points to the fact that the association

provided an institutional home for activists that was, perhaps, not altogether fitting and

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THE “NOT-BUYING POWER” OF THE BLACK COMMUNITY

appropriate, but served as a launching pad for intensified direct action.6
The liquor store boycott reflected emergent tensions among activists, kindled by

frustrations and rising expectations.7 There was impatience about their mien. More and
more activists asserted that the concept of “nondiscrimination’ used by fair employment
practice agencies in 1960 was confining, inadequate; “nondiscrimination” did not find jobs
for the men and women in Harlem and other urban areas. At this time, frustration with the

variety of state fair-employment practice laws and agencies was at its peak. Some of the
statutes were a product of extensive civil rights lobbying, as in Minnesota, and were

generally agreeable to African Americans and liberal groups. Other statutes were coopted
and modified by chambers of commerce and employers’ associations, as occurred in Illinois.
There was a wide range in the statutes’ degree of authority and enforcement ability. Some
re-created the federal government’s Fair Employment Practices Committee (FEPC), as did
New York State, which established the State Commission Against Discrimination that
could bring suit in state court. New York’s statute was atypical, since most state and

municipal commissions had no enforcement powers. But even New York’s Commission

Against Discrimination relied upon a complaint procedure, and was therefore reactive, not

proactive, as activists increasingly demanded.8 Protesters eschewed lengthy investigations
by a state agency. Rather, they focused upon the broader landscape of employment
opportunities where the effects of job discrimination could be readily observed. It is

important to note that their target was not discrimination per se. Most did not seek color-
blind employment policies, but visible results: employment based upon race-not regardless
of it.9

To be sure, color consciousness would be but one of several tactical divisions within
this movement. Practitioners of nonviolent direct action, such as CORE, protested job
discrimination in the streets, seeking to embarrass employers who hired few or no African
Americans. Organizations with access to courts and corporate boardrooms, such as the
NAACP and the National Urban League (NUL), politely interpreted these demands for

policy makers and executives. Activists sought the ear of the men who made daily hiring
decisions, but that goal in itself generated tensions between groups. The division between
moderates and militants hinged upon a set of questions: Should they draw upon
antidiscrimination law and state power, or appeal to employers directly? How useful were

boycotts, disruption, and provocation, as used by southern civil rights protesters? And
how much disruption was too much?

The more disruptive tactics forced a response from both civil rights moderates and
business leaders. Indeed, moderates could capitalize upon the new militancy, as
businessmen searched for responses to the new aggressiveness. A variety of employers-the
owner of a local bakery, the manager of a bank branch, or the director of a Broadway
play-quickly realized they did not want to be forced to negotiate with the “radicals.”
Companies sought to retain their control in matters of employment: But with whom did they
want to bargain? What was up for negotiation? Must they deal with a disruptive CORE

chapter, or was there a more reasonable alternative? Under pressure from civil rights
activists, businessmen began to address these questions. While corporate leaders did not

massively resist the demands placed upon them, they did feed the inter- and intragroup
competition and, in so doing, markedly shaped the evolving debate over the meaning of
preferential and compensatory employment.10

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CONSTRUCTING THE “NEGRO CONSUMER”

Most urban manufacturers and employers were no more willing to employ African

Americans in the 1960s than they were in the 1930s. But in the 1960s they no longer had a

choice in the matter. A presumably new “Negro market” had emerged, according to

management, retail, and advertising literature.11 The yearly migration of thousands of

southerners to the urban North promised greater economic clout for African Americans.

Incomes of African Americans rose, though unevenly, throughout the 1950s, and this fact

would have social and cultural consequences. “If an employer has an unfair employment
policy, and it’s known to Negroes, he can advertise, he can promote, he can do anything he
wants to, and he won’t sell merchandise,” commented the director of the newly created

ethnic markets division of a major advertiser. The Wall Street Journal noted in 1961 that

national advertisers now lavished attention upon black consumers. The Negro market,
with an annual purchasing power of $20 billion, “almost equal to that of all Canada,”

expanded daily. The newspaper further noted that as the nation’s largest single minority

group, the black population was growing at a rate 57 percent faster than the white

population.12 Indeed, something was amiss when businesses dependent upon African

Americans’ dollars were without black employees.
How did the existence of a Negro market influence African Americans’ job demands?

Evidence of the buying power of African Americans proliferated, to the delight of black

leaders. The growth of communications media designed for a black audience, the swelled

circulation of Ebony and Jet magazines, and the multiplying number of radio stations that

appealed to black listeners all pointed to changing demographic and economic

circumstances for many African Americans. African Americans now populated visible,

specific pockets of the northern urban landscape. This process worked gradually to

concentrate African Americans’ spending power. Black women and men could feel
themselves a presence in Philadelphia, which was one-quarter black in 1960, or in

Newark, where African Americans comprised more than one-third of the city’s population.
Meanwhile, the jobs now held by black men and women-even in traditional employment

fields-paid much better than those they had left in the South.13
Advertisers and retailers readily discerned a new black consumer and noticed her

buying trends and preferences. Advertising consultants distinguished special traits: black

consumers showed a greater brand-name loyalty than whites, and they were particularly
sensitive to quality because of retailers’ propensity to dump shoddy merchandise in their

neighborhood stores. According to one marketing consultant, rumor-about whom to

patronize, whom to boycott-played a tremendous role in purchasing behavior among
African Americans. The democratizing potential of consumer culture was not lost on one

market researcher, who concluded that the purchase of quality consumer items represented
“one of the roads leading to what [the African American] regards as his rightful place in

society…. Spending money is a direct weapon for achieving Negro rights.” It is unclear

whether the fact of the black consumer alone prompted executives to hire African

Americans, but there was a general sense that black employees could aid their companies in

“capitalizing on Negro markets.”14
Postwar geographic expansion added another dimension to the preexisting ethnic and

class consumer variations. Suburbs and shopping centers were racially exclusive spaces;

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THE “NOT-BUYING POWER” OF THE BLACK COMMUNITY

developers aimed to exclude certain racial and ethnic groups as residents and consumers.15
Suburban shoppers now had alternatives to urban stores, leaving the downtown shopping
districts to city residents. Thus, while African Americans sought claim to full integration in
the nation’s economy, urban-to-suburban migration undermined that realization. In the
short term, concentrated black spending power suggested black prosperity, yet the

geographically segregated market imposed limits on the struggle for economic equality.
Although African Americans’ earnings were relatively high in the 1950s, ominous signs of
economic downturn existed after 1960. It was commonly understood that the slightest dip in
overall employment rates had far graver repercussions for black workers.16

Discriminatory employers who hired African Americans last and fired them first were only
a part of the problem. Other demons loomed and “blind market forces,” usually in the guise
of automation, threatened to make semi- and unskilled labor obsolete. Fears were cited by
example, such as the Chicago radio plant that now required 2 men to do the work that until
then had required 200. If automation was a substantial problem for the labor movement, it
was a colossal one for black workers, who remained disproportionately concentrated in
low-skilled jobs.17

Concerns about economic decline did not stem the movement for jobs, however, but
rather they fed expectations for improved economic status. That the urban African
American population became more concentrated geographically and economically were

preconditions for the new urban boycott movement of the 1960s. The African American
market was evidence of the black presence on the economic landscape of the nation, and the
urban boycotts for jobs would express and assert a newfound economic power.

“THE BEST UNORGANIZED ORGANIZED GROUP IN AMERICA”

Racial turmoil was decidedly bad for business, a fact recognized early by the Wall
Street Journal.18 The Civil Rights Movement in the North and South began to reexamine

ways through which sanctions could fight discrimination, wisely appropriating the most
drastic economic weapons used by labor unions. In Montgomery, Alabama, African
Americans engaged this strategy when they stopped riding city buses in December 1955.

Sitting in at the Woolworth’s lunch counter, too, could make a dent in the day’s business.
The lunch counter manager noted with resentment, thirty-eight years after the incident, that
he lost $150,000 altogether. “Wound up I lost one-third my profits, one-third my salary.”
The boycotts’ effect was immediate; business as usual was halted.19

As the Greensboro, North Carolina, lunch counter sit-ins began in February 1960,
another movement converged in Philadelphia. The southern sit-ins inspired and informed
the northern activists. The Rev. Leon Sullivan, a leader of the incipient movement,
explained, “Some of us were picketing the five-and-ten to support the lunch counter sit-ins
in the South, when we realized that the North and East had problems that were just as
acute.”20 When fifteen of Philadelphia’s ministers met in March 1960, they focused on the

problem of job discrimination and chose to revitalize the simple message of an earlier

generation: “Don’t buy where you can’t work.” Like the southern sit-ins, this northern
movement involved much of the black community in organized boycott action. In the first
months of 1960, an estimated 200,000 African Americans participated in this substantial
hit on the pocketbook of local businesses. Sullivan informed Roy Wilkins that “something

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JOURNAL OF AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY

tremendous is happening in Philadelphia.”21
Before arriving a decade earlier to become the pastor of Zion Baptist Church, in the

heart of North Philadelphia’s African American community, Sullivan studied at Union

Theological Seminary in New York. He had been an assistant to Rev. Adam Clayton
Powell, Jr., in his church and political campaigns. Like other members of Philadelphia’s
black ministry, Sullivan kept abreast of developments in employment opportunities for

young African Americans. His deep involvement in community organizing and civil rights
activity motivated Sullivan to organize a Youth Employment Service at Zion Baptist and
become involved in efforts to reduce juvenile crime in Philadelphia.22

Sullivan did not emerge immediately as the force behind the “Selective Patronage
Campaign.” In fact, Philadelphia’s newspapers were hard-pressed to name the ringleaders-
and that was exactly what the “400 Ministers” wanted. Sullivan himself admitted only to

being a “servant of the leaders.” Two years after the first campaigns, the Philadelphia
Tribune would note that its leadership, “has never been admitted, the top man could be the
Reverend Leon Sullivan.” The article continued, “Another possibility is T. E.

Harper…. Activities probably include the Reverend Joshua Licorish.” Another newspaper
called the leaderless selective patronage program the “best unorganized organized group in
America. “23 Because the leaders went unnamed, any rift within the movement went
undetected.

Organized though leaderless, it was the “colored preacher” who was key to the success
of the selective patronage program; he “is free as no other is in such matters,” wrote
Sullivan. For a white minister “would be hard-put on a Sunday morning to tell his members
not to buy a product when the manager of the boycotted business is not only a member of the

church, but also on his board of trustees.” The ministers were able to conduct investigations
and inquire about the number of minorities employed and in which jobs. Company managers
usually gave this information willingly. They might as well; the 400 Ministers probably
had a head count already.24

The selective patronage campaign was, in a way, exclusive; it was concerned with
certain jobs. The ministers wanted African Americans in jobs with dignity and

responsibility, in what they called “sensitive” supervisory, clerical, and skilled posts. Their
remarkable innovation was to negotiate specific numbers of hires. This was considered
fundamental to the boycott’s effectiveness. And to the ministers, it was the employer’s

problem if he alleged he could find no “qualified” black workers.25 Thus, the Tasty Baking

Company managers’ assertion that they employed hundreds of black workers-all in menial

occupations-fell on deaf ears. The ministers’ request to Gulf Oil was that “Negro girls be

employed in the offices and Negro men be employed as oil truck drivers.” An agreement with

Sun Oil outlined “25 Negro girls in clerical, three drivers and one salesman.”26
For days, weeks, and even months, a quarter of Philadelphia’s residents stopped

purchasing Sunoco Gas, Pepsi-Cola, Breyer’s Ice Cream, or Tastykakes, while the ministers

persisted in negotiations with companies’ management. The strategy worked one product,
one company at a time. By the time of the great action against A & P food markets in January
1963, some twenty companies had been boycotted and agreements had been reached.27 On

the surface, the agreements secured jobs. But under the surface, the reign of the free market
was under attack, the employers’ prerogative about whom and how to hire, challenged. To
be sure, the ministers’ movement outraged employers, who used words like “force,”

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“intimidation,” and “demands” to describe selective patronage. The ministers maintained that

they simply dealt in “persuasion”-convincing their parishioners to buy another brand,
thus constituting what one observer titled the “not-buying power of Philadelphia’s
Negroes.”28

Selective patronage illustrated that jobs could be secured-at more than 300 companies
in Philadelphia-by virtually ignoring the city, state, and federal fair-employment agencies.
It preached intraracial self-help and a result-oriented organizing model that matched the

quickening tempo of protest. Activists in the North and South would soon take note, and by
late 1962, consumer boycotts were launched in a number of cities for the purpose of gaining
nonwhite employment.29 Sullivan brought the idea to Atlanta earlier that year at the

request of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference

(SCLC) launched “Operation Breadbasket” and had many successes in Atlanta and in many
northern cities where it helped to build SCLC’s northern base. In Chicago, Operation
Breadbasket, led by Rev. Jesse Jackson, achieved numerous impressive job gains by utilizing
the nonviolent selective patronage techniques pioneered by Sullivan and the 400 Ministers
in Philadelphia.30

Northern CORE chapters were also eager to utilize selective patronage’s boycott
techniques in the early 1960s. It was the perfect solution for CORE’s northern activists,

many of whom wanted to apply direct action to employment and housing issues, but were
“bewildered” as to how to go about doing so.31 Northern CORE chapters started to become
active around employment discrimination in 1960, initially as a partner to the ministers’

groups in some cities, or the local NAACP or Urban League in others. But there was rivalry
too, as CORE competed with NAACP activists Herbert Hill and Cecil Moore, who were
active in New York and Philadelphia, respectively. Of the Philadelphia 400 Ministers,
CORE field organizer Genevieve Hughes observed that it “operates about four times as

effectively as CORE could ever hope to.”32 With that, CORE spearheaded equal employment
boycotts in New York.

CORE “STALLS-IN” FOR CIVIL RIGHTS

“I have been informed,” Rev. Leon Sullivan wrote to NAACP Executive Secretary Roy
Wilkins in July 1962, “that in New York a mammoth Selective Patronage Program is being
organized.” Indeed, the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn was then the site of
a sweeping movement, comprised of ministers, their parishioners, and CORE activists, who
had recently gained cooperation and hiring agreements from 150 merchants.33 Like the

Philadelphia protesters, Brooklyn activists targeted producers of repeat-purchase
consumer items, such as bread and milk. Brooklyn’s Sealtest Dairy was picketed in 1961;
Ebinger’s Bakery was the next target, during the early months of 1963. These boycotts
displayed elements of the selective patronage style developed in Philadelphia. The actions,
which received widespread publicity, also sought to gain specific numbers of hires in so-
called sensitive positions with high visibility. Negotiators demanded jobs for nonwhite
male drivers and salesgirls: “Nowadays at Ebinger’s, when they know CORE is coming,
they bake a cake and make sure a Negro or Puerto Rican girl is there to sell it.” Bakery
executives “crumbled like cake.”34

The Ebinger’s boycott in Brooklyn illustrates the typically gendered character of

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company negotiations with activists. Employment demands, seeking to transcend
traditional job categories based on race, reaffirmed the division of labor based on sex. Thus
sales and clerical jobs were negotiated for black women, while drivers, door-to-door sales,
management, and skilled trade positions were reserved for black men. Research reports by
CORE, entitled “Women in the Hotel Industry” and “Men in the Skilled Trades,” are

suggestive of the traditional gendering of jobs, if not the traditional racial groups filling
those positions. The slogans and placards of the movement further illustrate this pattern.
Signs at a Philadelphia restaurant demonstration, for example, read, “No work for mother if
she’s the wrong color.”35

Boycott negotiators in CORE and the ministers’ groups did not press for jobs outside of
the traditional gender categories. To the activists, it was inconceivable to seek a plumber’s
job for a woman. And although black males sought white-collar and some clerical jobs, no
one suggested that they were racially excluded as stenographers. African American women
and men considered normalization of their place in the economy and barrier-free

employment in sex-segregated terms. Robert Curvin of Newark CORE gave a revealing
explanation when he said that the local Employment Committee “has put most of its

emphasis on jobs for men,” since “it means more in terms of family stability.” When an
NAACP group gathered employment applications from young, married men, a female in the

group reported that most men sought jobs in skilled labor. Most of the women, she presumed,
“want clerical jobs.”,36

CORE assumed a style that resembled that of the Philadelphia ministers. Investigators
researched the size of the operation, the nonwhite clientele, and the local labor union.

Inspections of the offices and internal operations could be conducted effectively by white
CORE members. The researchers had a rough sense of how many minorities were employed
and in what capacities. Only then did the young activists politely request a meeting with

top officials.37

Management usually complied with CORE’s request for an appointment; to do
otherwise drew public embarrassment, boycotts, and picket lines. Company officials
described these meetings as similar to labor-management negotiations. Some of them made
efforts to seat the participants intermixed with management officials, in order to mitigate

possible antagonism between the groups. CORE would present specific and detailed

proposals for hiring, aimed to “avoid the possibility of token integration by stressing

continuing observation.” If their demands were not fulfilled, negotiators also presented an

ultimatum that “could be carried out.”38
In a sense CORE’s success can be measured by the extent of its infamy among business

leaders. Corporate officers dreaded picket lines and boycotts and attempted to avoid them

at all costs. Employers’ fears, however, may have outweighed the actual damage inflicted by
CORE’s direct action.39 CORE’s own concept of success varied widely. CORE considered
its agreement with A & P in December 1963 an achievement because the supermarket chain

agreed to eventually hire 200 black employees.40 CORE also claimed a triumph in the

sweeping agreement it made in October 1963 with the Hempstead, New York, Chamber of

Commerce to “stimulate” the employment of 300 minorities in the following six weeks.41 In

the case of consumer-product boycotts, CORE saw victory when a supermarket removed

boycotted products from its shelves.42
In pursuit of success some CORE chapters became more militant in 1963, as they were

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driven to compete with other civil rights groups and national CORE leaders. The

competition was evident during the Brooklyn Downstate Medical Center campaign, when
CORE denounced the hiring agreement brokered by the local ministers’ movement and

Republican Governor Nelson Rockefeller. When the ministers’ negotiator tried to explain
the agreement publicly, he was repudiated. “Promises, promises … that don’t mean nothing,”
gatherers shouted.43 CORE’s historians August Meier and Elliot Rudwick wrote that the

group’s new perspective reflected larger changes in the Civil Rights Movement. “The greater
the achievements, the clearer it became how much remained to be done and how little,

relatively speaking, had been accomplished by the quieter, more ‘respectable’ forms of
nonviolent direct action.”44 The swiftly radicalizing New York CORE sought noticeable

results, and employment protests presented opportunities to frighten local businessmen and
secure quantifiable hiring agreements. Demonstrators experienced more frequent run-ins
with the police. Employment protesters intrepidly targeted the most flagrant and high-
profile offenders: banks, television broadcasters, and the airline industry.45 New York
CORE chapters were especially bold, characterized by one writer as “[i]mpetuous, quick on
the draw, intoxicated by press attention.”46

Increasingly conscious of the power of mass media and concerned with making a big
splash in lily-white industries, CORE launched its largest “employment incident” yet on

opening day of the 1964 World’s Fair. To civil rights leaders, there was great irony in the
fact that few African American and Puerto Rican men were among the workers constructing
the pavilions at the fairground in Queens, New York. They planned to highlight this irony;
their chance would come on a single day in April 1964. A citywide coalition, which
included A. Philip Randolph’s Negro American Labor Council, the Urban League, and the
NAACP’s Labor and Industry Committee, pressed for 25 percent of the World’s Fair jobs.
When CORE, a relative latecomer, joined the coalition, the Urban League smelled trouble,
and promptly opted out so as “not to be identified with other groups.”47 High-profile
demonstrations, one before the United Nations, were held in the months preceding the fair’s

opening day, but the coalition was unable to clinch a substantive victory.48
As more moderate participants grew frustrated with the negotiations, the Brooklyn

chapter of CORE, described by one chronicler of the civil rights campaign as “a hotbed of
rebellion,” moved to center stage. By 1964 the Brooklyn branch was viewed by national
CORE as one of the more radical chapters.49 Brooklyn CORE announced it would ruin the

opening day of the fair by drastically cutting attendance. The group planned a “stall-in”

secretly only weeks before the event, but details had been purposely kept from members to
avoid “leaks.” “Nonviolent combat teams” would be deployed in more than 2,000 cars. At the

proper moment, the vehicles would run out of fuel or develop mechanical trouble on every
bridge, tunnel, parkway, and expressway leading to the Queens fairgrounds. “Take only
enough gas to get your car on exhibit,” CORE’s leaflets instructed. “Drive a while for
freedom.”50

As predicted, the plot met with staunch resistance from the national CORE office,
which already had plans for a more “reasonable” demonstration at the fair itself. CORE’s
leaders voted overwhelmingly to suspend the Brooklyn chapter if the stall-in occurred. It

“is not a CORE-type action,” protested James Farmer, CORE’s National Director. “Brooklyn
CORE hasn’t even attempted to negotiate with the [W]orld’s Fair” managers and executives.
Some activists outside of CORE backed the stall-in. For example, while the New York

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Branch of the NAACP opposed the event, the chair of its Labor and Industry Committee
outlined CORE’s plans and urged members to participate as individuals.51

On 22 April 1964, the World’s Fair opened amid great apprehension. President Lyndon
B. Johnson made a scheduled appearance. James Farmer and 300 CORE moderates were
arrested while protesting job discrimination in front of the pavilions of Schaeffer Beer and

the Ford Motor Company. Yet only a dozen cars were stalled in light traffic on the

approaches to the fairgrounds. Amid tables piled with heaps of unused stall-in literature,
the Brooklyn CORE organizers later explained the failure. The plan was released to the

press for “psychological reasons,” said one organizer. Talk of a stall-in “helped us get what
we wanted.”52

The confrontational method and lack of a cohesive goal revealed a very public
division within the ranks of the movement. The Joint Committee’s demand for jobs was

consistently and flatly refused.53 And without employment gains, what was left to reap but

publicity? To Brooklyn CORE, conventional picketing and boycotts were slow and

piecemeal; they were of little utility, and media attention–or condemnation-would have

to stand in for results. To the larger civil rights community, it became apparent that the

chapter’s reckless militancy resulted from the fact that the group had little leverage with

New York City’s powerful and lily-white unions and industries, let alone national

corporations.54 Boycotts were effective only to a point in the face of an impenetrable
power structure. But the very existence of the boycott threat, alongside demands for specific
numbers of hires, held potential for militant and moderate alike.

WHOM AND HOW TO HIRE? THE EMERGENCE OF AFFIRMATIVE ACTION

Brooklyn CORE, indeed all of the groups involved in the World’s Fair negotiations,
faced a similar dilemma: How could they make an employer’s workforce resemble the

population racially and ethnically? Brooklyn CORE moved to the extreme in an attempt to

realize marked results, but its initial hiring goals were viewed by sympathizers as not

particularly extreme, for as the stall-in occurred, CORE chapters from San Francisco to

Elizabeth, New Jersey, also sought more dramatic results on the part of corporations and

other employers. The approach that emerged seemed reasonable to Norman Hill, CORE’s

moderate program director. By 1964 he had negotiated numerous hiring agreements that

came to be “based on some rough estimate of the surrounding population.”55 Race and

geography combined to resurrect the logic of the 1959 Harlem liquor stores boycott.
The need for results prompted CORE to negotiate preferential hiring agreements, which

would become the sine qua non to demonstrate an absence of job discrimination at the

company. This feature of the hiring agreements gained theoretical grounding: CORE had

begun “talking in terms of ‘compensatory’ hiring,” explained Field Director Gordon Carey.

Employers “now have a responsibility and obligation to make up for past sins.”56 Chapters
made steep and specific demands upon white-collar employers, among them, federally
insured banks. CORE’s call for 75 percent minority enrollment in a bank’s training program
was roundly criticized. One CORE staffer justified the percentage: “We are using only the

aggressive recruitment methods which President Kennedy has advocated.” He continued,
“No one really believes that this is really reverse discrimination …. But there is a

realization that the years of discrimination have been a toll against our country.”57

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CORE chapters based hiring demands-which they sometimes called “accelerated

hiring”-upon more than simply population data.58 When a San Francisco chapter called
on the Bank of America to supply employment data and a promise that all new hires be
African American, bank officers were enraged. Newspapers condemned CORE for

“intimidating business leaders” by “demanding quotas.” CORE found itself on the defensive:
“We’re not demanding a quota. … A ‘range of numbers’ is not a quota, it’s a goal.”59 General
Motors accused CORE of threatening “a quota formula,” and numerous employers
contended they would be compelled to hire the so-called unqualified in order to pacify civil

rights activists; there was nothing voluntary or equitable about it, and they had no choice
but to comply.60

CORE’s tactics were reflected in the literature geared to corporate readers.
Businessmen were warned. “Will American Industry have its Little Rock and its Oxford,

Mississippi?” inquired the Harvard Business Review. Trade, retail, and personnel
publications urged action. Step-by-step integration how-to’s were regularly featured: how
to locate your local Urban League for referrals, how to enlist the support of your shop
steward in integration plans, how to placate your status-conscious all-white secretaries’
pool should they threaten a walkout. A high-exposure boycott could be a nasty
embarrassment to General Motors; it could deal the deathblow to the small company in
financial straits. At a minimum, make certain there is an explicit nondiscrimination

policy-but be careful-for civil rights advocates “are now likely to look at the results of

hiring practices, not just the practices themselves.”61
The panicked atmosphere sparked by CORE permitted moderate organizations to more

freely experiment with bolder approaches. Presidential politics and pending equal
employment law, too, prompted this revised position, as federal affirmative action

guidelines tightened and new federal antidiscrimination efforts were proposed.62 Perhaps
the most seemingly drastic change in direction on affirmative action in employment came
from the National Urban League, traditionally a moderate organization.63 The Urban

League sought a role for the organization in which it might serve the new goals and

perhaps have a moderating influence on the militants. Only several years earlier, some
members had been quite critical of the league’s employment program; it appeared to be “a ‘do-

nothing’ agency concerning the crucial economic problems of Negroes,” observed one New
York league member. The league’s program clearly lacked the verve and results of the recent
civil rights upstarts. Some league members suggested the organization spearhead economic

boycotts. The league’s industrial relations specialist thought the suggestion impossible, yet
conceded that there “can be no objection to the [Urban League] providing certain technical
know-how to pressure groups that use this technique.”64

Aroused by CORE’s activists, Urban League affiliates reexamined their employment
programs. The Grand Rapids, Michigan, league leaders gave serious consideration to the

pros and cons of “preferential treatment for the Negro,” and the NUL’s Washington
representative forcefully advocated “compensatory action” during congressional hearings
on equal employment legislation. But Whitney Young, the NUL’s Executive Director, was

initially concerned about this accelerated tempo and advised against copying the approach
of CORE and other groups in the direct action movement. “We should use a diversified

approach and give the opposition somewhere to go.”65 Young was in fact setting the NUL
upon an entirely new footing.

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Eventually, the Urban League fully capitalized on the growing militancy of the
northern activists, bolstering its stature and finances in the process. CORE-inspired
boycotts clearly were not an option for the league, since its contributors were some of the

largest consumer manufacturers in the country, such as Goodyear, RCA, Westinghouse, and

Colgate-Palmolive. Speaking to the league’s high-powered Commerce and Industry Council
about the rash of employment pickets, Whitney Young asserted, “We have been able to do an

interpretive job with some of these groups-helped avoid some unwarranted activity on
their part.” But he admonished corporate executives, “We are not trying to help any
company discriminate with sophistication.”66 To suggest that the Urban League could

protect a company in case of a boycott would be inaccurate, although business leaders may
have hoped for this possibility. In 1961 only three corporations pledged more than $5,000
to the league; eighteen corporations pledged at least that amount in just the first half of

1962. It was the industrial consultant’s “considered judgment” that federal and boycott

pressure will cause “more and more corporations to be faced with the problem of Negro

employment.”67 Indeed, corporate donations to the league probably did reflect fears of

boycotts, FEPC prosecutions, and bad publicity.
Growing corporate contributions and the certainty that beleaguered companies had

nowhere else to turn encouraged the NUL to inaugurate a bold program. “Lately, as other

civil rights groups have stepped up the pressure for more and better jobs for Negroes,” noted

the Wall Street Journal, “the League itself has become more aggressive in the employment
field.” At the NUL’s National Convention in 1963, Whitney Young unveiled the “Domestic

Marshall Plan.” It was devised to give “special emergency aid” to African Americans, in the

form of “compensation” for the past 300 years of discrimination. “We ask that the community

consciously include the Negro, whereas in the past it has consciously excluded
him.”’68 For the NUL’s corporate givers, it was a radical approach. The New York Times noted,

“Mr. Young concedes he is receiving calls from corporate officials angry over the league’s

increasing cooperation with the more militant civil rights groups.” Indeed, Young did agree
with CORE’s logic, to some extent, but he was careful to denounce the use of quotas, and a

current CORE demand for a 25 percent share of jobs. Nevertheless, he candidly endorsed

the principle of preferential treatment in hiring. “[W]e do mean discrimination in reverse for

Negroes in employment, although we are not trying to get whites out of jobs.”69 Here was

the strongest statement yet heard from a so-called moderate organization. Who could the

besieged employer turn to now?
The notion of “compensation” was flexible. It held the possibility and promise of

moderation, even though it was also part of CORE’s militancy. When used by the Urban

League, the concept echoed business’s social responsibility to practice fair employment. It

called upon corporations to act voluntarily, with benevolence and generosity in making
amends through preferential hiring. The compensation concept could potentially legitimize
a broader affirmative action program. It could create a space for the engagement of

corporations, which heretofore assumed an antagonistic relationship to the radical

protesters. With the Urban League’s help, business leaders might become part of the

solution. The language of affirmative action, white-hot in CORE’s hands, became feasible

and acceptable to business leaders subsequent to the Urban League’s translation.
It must be stated that the paths of CORE and the Urban League greatly diverged. The

audiences to whom they appealed differed greatly, and neither competed with the other for

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members nor donations. Yet their relationship, their rivalry (of a sort) was symbiotic. The
Urban League’s approach to securing employment fed CORE’s radical stance. The bold
demands and uncompromising stance of CORE chapters provided an opportunity for the
Urban League to experiment and ultimately express a position strongly in favor of
affirmative action that would not have been possible without CORE’s activism. The
existence of a boycott culture in the urban civil rights campaigns was as useful to the
Urban League as it was to CORE, though perhaps unwittingly so.

What started as a gamble for civil rights boycotters-the specific hiring demands,
based upon the concepts of compensation and preference–quickly became standard fare in

nearly every debate on equal employment opportunity throughout the 1960s. These
demands, products of competition and rivalry, had unintended yet fortunate consequences.
The theoretical and historical justification for racially conscious hiring and promotion
policies came to be shared by moderate civil rights organizations, adopted in employment
discrimination law, and espoused by government agencies. The concept of affirmative

action, formulated in the crucible of boycotts and protests, is today part of the lexicon of
human resources and personnel management. If the boycott organizers of 1960 were in any
way shortsighted, it was in their belief that four decades hence, their tactics would no

longer be necessary or warranted.

NOTES

1″NAACP Protests Against Confederate Flag,” St. Louis Post Dispatch, 17 March 2002; “NAACP Votes
to Boycott South Carolina over Flag,” Wall Street Journal, 18 October 1999; “NAACP, Adam’s Mark Are
Settling Bias Suit After Two-Year Fight,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 4 December 2001; Lawrie Mifflin,
“N.A.A.C.P. Plans to Press for More Diverse TV Shows,” New York Times, 13 July 1999; Paul Fahri, “In
Networks’ New Programs, a Startling Lack of Racial Diversity,” Washington Post, 13 July 1999; “Guns,
Television, and Minorities,” New York Times, 14 July 1999; Mike Downey, “Fade to White: Will
Hollywood Ever Learn?” Los Angeles Times, 14 July 1999; Richard Cohen, “Them-and-Us TV,”
Washington Post, 22 July 1999; “NAACP Convention: Boycotts’ Power Still Persuasive,” Atlanta
Journal-Constitution, 15 July 2003.
2August Meier and Elliott Rudwick, “Origins of Non-Violent Direct Action in Afro-American Protest:
A Note on Historical Discontinuities,” in Along the Color Line: Explorations in the Black Experience, ed.
August Meier and Elliott Rudwick (Urbana, IL, 1976): 307-404. The “Don’t buy where you can’t
work” campaigns were active in thirty-five midwestern and northern cities during the Depression;
see Winston C. McDowell, “Keeping Them ‘In the Same Boat Together’? Sufi Abdul Hamid, African
Americans, Jews, and the Harlem Jobs Boycotts,” in African Americans and Jews in the Twentieth Century:
Studies in Convergence and Conflict, ed. V. P. Franklin et al. (Columbia, MO, 1998): 208-36. On the legal
aspects of boycotts and picketing, see Paul D. Moreno, From Direct Action to Affirmative Action: Fair
Employment Law and Policy (Baton Rouge, LA, 1996), 36-41; Harold M. Weiner “Negro Picketing for
Employment Equality,” Howard Law Journal 13 (Spring 1967): 270-302; Robert E. Weems, Jr., “African-
Americans Consumer Boycotts During the Civil Rights Era,” Western Journal of Black Studies 19 (Spring
1995): 72-79. For postwar job-related boycotts, see Martha Biondi, To Stand and Fight: The Struggle for
Negro Rights in Postwar New York City (Cambridge, MA, 2003), 22, 36.
3Major books on civil rights history touch upon the disagreements and tensions between individuals
and among groups, and the following is a sampling of sources that have mentioned or more
thoroughly analyzed these dynamics: on the tensions between the SNCC (Student Nonviolent
Coordinating Committee) and Martin Luther King in the Albany Movement, see Adam Fairclough,
To Redeem the Soul of America: The Southern Christian Leadership Conference and Martin Luther King, Jr.
(Athens, GA, 1987), 102-03; on disagreements within the Chicago open-housing struggles, see David
G. Garrow, Bearing the Cross: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference
(New York, 1986), 524; within Mississippi’s Council of Federated Organizations, see John Dittmer,
Local People: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi (Urbana, IL, 1995), 341-43. On competition
between SNCC, CORE, and others, see Clayborne Carson, In Struggle: SNCC and the Black Awakening

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of the 1960s (Cambridge, MA, 1981), 137-38; August Meier, “Negro Protest Movements and
Organizations,” in Conflict and Competition in the Recent Black Protest Movement, ed. John H. Bracey, Jr.,
et al. (Belmont, CA, 1971), 21-33; August Meier and Elliott Rudwick, CORE: A Study in the Civil Rights
Movement, 1942-1968 (New York, 1973), 163-64; Aldon D. Morris, Origins of the Civil Rights Movement:
Black Communities Organizing for Change (New York, 1984), 48. The differences between the groups
sponsoring the 1963 March on Washington are mentioned by numerous historians and biographers.
Two examples are Jervis Anderson, Bayard Rustin: Troubles I’ve Seen (New York, 1997), 259-60; and
Paula F. Pfeffer, A. Philip Randolph: Pioneer of the Civil Rights Movement (Baton Rouge, LA, 1990), 258-
59.

4Stacy Kinlock Sewell, “‘The Best Man for the Job’: Corporate Responsibility and Racial Integration in
the Workplace, 1945-1960,” Historian 65 (Fall 2003): 1125-46. For overviews of the movement for
equal employment before and during the Civil Rights Movement, see Robert Weiss, “We Want Jobs”:
A History of Affirmative Action (New York, 1997); Robert E. Weems, Jr., Desegregating the Dollar: African
American Consumerism in the Twentieth Century (New York, 1998); Moreno, From Direct Action to
Affirmative Action.
50n the Kennedy administration and Executive Order 10925, see Hugh Davis Graham, The Civil
Rights Era: Origins and Development of National Policy, 1960-1972 (New York, 1990), 27.

6″Liquor Industry Bias Charged by N.A.A.C.P.,” Herald Tribune, 1 August 1959, 5; John Morsell to Roy
Wilkins, 2 July 1959; Telegram, Roy Wilkins to L. Joseph Overton, 6 July 1959; Roy Wilkins to Pearl
Mitchell, 21 August 1959, box A110, series 3, NAACP, Records, Library of Congress (hereafter
“NAACP Records, LC”). Christopher Robert Reed, The Chicago NAACP and the Rise of Black Professional
Leadership, 1910-1966 (Bloomington, IN, 1997), writes that by the 1950s, the Chicago NAACP
launched street demonstrations and a vigorous program for jobs, but in New York, these protests
were acted upon by trade-unionists. See Martha Biondi, To Stand and Fight: The Struggle for Civil Rights
in Postwar New York City (Cambridge, MA, 2003), 250-69.
70n “rising expectations” as a precondition for the civil rights struggle, see David Levering Lewis in
introduction to The Civil Rights Movement in America, ed. Charles W. Eagles (Jackson, MS, 1986), 3-17.
80n the New York State Commission Against Discrimination, see Louis Ruchames, Race, Jobs and
Politics: The Story of FEPC (New York, 1953), 166; Moreno, From Direct Action to Affirmative Action, 107-
61. For overviews on the state and local commissions and ordinances, see Herbert Hill, “Twenty Years
of State Fair Employment Practices Commissions: A Critical Analysis with Recommendations,” Buffalo
Law Review 14, no. 1 (Fall 1964): 22-69.
9Some scholars have viewed the race-conscious character of equal employment opportunity to have
emerged only in 1964, after the passage of the Civil Rights Act. See John David Skrentny, The Ironies
of Affirmative Action: Politics, Culture, and Justice in America (Chicago, 1996), 113; Graham, The Civil
Rights Era, 117; Moreno, From Direct Action to Affirmative Action, 30-65

10Major industries typically delayed the enactment of equal employment opportunity procedures,
both before and after enactment of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Right Act. See, for example, Judith
Stein, Running Steel, Running America: Race, Economic Policy, and the Decline of Liberalism (Chapel Hill,
NC, 1998), 66-67; Timothy J. Minchin, Hiring the Black Worker: The Racial Integration of the Southern
Textile Industry, 1960-1980 (Chapel Hill, NC, 2000); Stephen M. Gelber, Black Men and Businessmen: The

Growing Awareness of a Social Responsibility (Port Washington, NY, 1974), 5-7.

11A discussion of the “Negro market” concept appears in Weems, Desegregating the Dollar, chapter 2;
Kathy M. Newman, “The Forgotten Fifteen Million: Black Radio, the ‘Negro Market,’ and the Civil

Rights Movement,” Radical History Review 76 (2000): 115-35; Lizabeth Cohen, A Consumers’ Republic:
The Politics of Mass Consumption in Postwar America (New York, 2003), 322-23. For a discussion of civil

rights protest and the consumer dimension, see Faith Kornbluh, “Black Buying Power: Welfare Rights,
Consumerism, and Northern Protest,” in Freedom North: Black Freedom Struggles Outside the South,
1940-1980, ed. Jeanne F. Theoharis and Komozi Woodard (New York, 2003): 198-222.

12″Negro Consumer: He Is Getting More Attention from Big National Advertisers,” Wall Street
Journal, 30 June 1961; “Negro Groups Put the Pressure On,” Business Week, 27 February 1960, 28.
13Gerald David Jaynes and Robin M. Williams, Jr., eds., A Common Destiny: Blacks and American Society
(Washington, DC, 1989), 62, 296-97. The income gap between African Americans’ and whites’

earnings closed some between 1941 and 1960, too. By 1960, black men earned nearly 60 percent of
white men’s earnings, compared with 41 percent in 1939. In urban areas the gap was smaller: in New
York, black men earned $.76 of every white man’s dollar; in Philadelphia, $.79. Historical Statistics of
Black America, vol. 1, table 1188; 1960 Census of Population, vol. 1, part 34 and part 40.

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14″A Negro’s Image of Man He’d Most Like to Be,” New York Herald Tribune, 31 October 1962; George
Doriot, Management of Racial Integration in Business (New York, 1964), 6. According to John Johnson,
publisher of Ebony and Jet, in many cities “no consumer product can hit the top spot in sales without
Negro support,” quoted in “Negro Groups Put the Pressure On,” 28; “Negro Consumer.”

15Cohen, A Consumers’ Republic, 325.
16See, for example, the statement by the National Planning Association on the Rise of Chronic
Unemployment, printed in House Committee on Education and Labor, Hearing Before the
Subcommittee on Unemployment and the Impact of Automation, 87th Cong., 1st sess., 622.
17Walter Buckingham, Automation: Its Impact on Business and People (New York, 1961), 27; Testimony
of Herbert Hill, in House Committee on Education and Labor, Equal Employment Opportunity: Hearings
Before the General Subcommittee on Labor, 88th Cong., 1st sess., 1963, 137.

18″Conflict in Dixie: White-Negroes Use Economic Weapons in Segregation Fight,” Wall Street Journal,
8 March 1956; “Race Tensions Discourage Move to South,” New York Times, 14 March 1956; see also
James C. Cobb, The Selling of the South: The Southern Crusade for Industrial Development, 1936-1990
(Urbana, IL, 1982, 1993), 123.
19Robert B. McKersie, “The Civil Rights Movement in Employment,” Industrial Relations 3 (May 1964):
1-21; Michael T. Kaufman, “C. L. Harris, 94; Allowed Lunch Counter Sit-In,” New York Times, 15 July
1999; on the financial effect of the sit-ins, see “Negro Groups Put the Pressure On,” 26.

20″Negroes Building Boycott Network,” New York Times, 25 November 1962.
21Leon Sullivan to Roy Wilkins, 14 June 1960, box A 182, series 3, NAACP Records, LC.
22Ministers’ Clinic, Employment and Guidance, 13 November 1956, box 12, Philadelphia Urban
League Papers, Urban Archives, Temple University; Evening Bulletin, 11 January 1966; Bernard E.
Anderson, The Opportunities Industrialization Centers: A Decade of Community-Based Manpower Services
(Philadelphia, 1976), 22-23.

23″Negroes Building Boycott Network,” New York Times, 25 November 1962; “Leadership Best-Kept
Secret of Movement,” Philadelphia Tribune, 29 May 1962; “The Philadelphia Selective Patronage
Program,” (unidentified) mounted clippings box 212, Urban Archives Center, Temple University. For
a full discussion of Philadelphia’s selective patronage campaign and its impact on the Black Power
movement, see Matthew J. Countryman, “Civil Rights and Black Power in Philadelphia, 1940-1971,”
Ph.D. diss., Duke University, 1998, 168-95.
24Leon Sullivan, quoted in “Selective Patronage Opens Gates for Negroes Looking for Jobs,” Evening
Bulletin, 29 August 1969; Leon Sullivan, Build Brother Build (New York, 1969), 73; Hannah Lees, “The
Not-Buying Power of Philadelphia’s Negroes,” The Reporter, 11 May 1961, 33.
25The Conference Board study, Stephen Habbe, Company Experience with Negro Employment, Studies
in Personnel Policy No. 201 (New York, 1966), describes the ways in which companies changed their

olicies and contacted community organizations, such as the Urban League, for assistance.
6Lees, “The Not-Buying Power”; “Negroes Building Boycott Network”; “Ministers Launch Anti-Gulf

Campaign,” unidentified clipping, 21 January 1961, reel 42, Congress of Racial Equality 1941-1967.
Sanford, NC: Microfilm Corporation of America, 1980, 1982, (hereafter “CORE Microfilm”); “What
‘Selective Patronage’ Means,” Philadelphia Courier, 3 June 1961.

27″Integrating Payrolls,” Wall Street Journal, 8 January 1963.

28Lees, “The Not-Buying Power.”

29Countryman, “Civil Rights and Black Power in Philadelphia,” 189; Garrow, Bearing the Cross, 223.
On Operation Breadbasket, see also Gary Massoni, “Perspectives on Operation Breadbasket,” in Martin
Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement: Chicago 1966, ed. David J. Garrow (Brooklyn, NY, 1989), 179-
347; David M. Wallace, “From the Fullness of the Earth: The Story of Chicago’s Operation
Breadbasket,” Chicago Theological Seminary Register 57 (November 1966): 16-20.

30Sullivan, Build, Brother, Build, 77; Fairclough, To Redeem the Soul of America, 177, 349-50.
31Meier and Rudwick, CORE, 182.
32Field Report, 20 December 1960-25 January 1961, reel 42, CORE Microfilm; Minutes, Employment
Workshop, 1962 National Convention, 28 June 1962, reel 2, CORE Microfilm. On CORE’s desire to
“bring the struggle north,” see Tamar Jacoby, Someone Else’s House: America’s Unfinished Struggle for
Integration (New York, 1998), 15.
33Leon Sullivan to Roy Wilkins, 13 July 1962, box A110, series 3, NAACP Records, LC. Several of the

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white merchants, accused of turning their backs on the employment needs of the community,
charged the ministers with “economic blackmail.” “Negro Boycott in Brooklyn Area Wins Aid of Stores
for Reforms,” New York Times, 27 April 1962; Harold X. Connolly, A Ghetto Grows in Brooklyn (New
York, 1977), 152, 188; Clarence Taylor, The Black Churches of Brooklyn (New York, 1994), 145.
34Connolly, A Ghetto Grows in Brooklyn, 152; “Mothers Picket Bakery in Dispute over Hiring,”
Amsterdam News, 13 January 1963; “Civil Rights Battle: Northern Style,” Ebony, March 1963; Press
Release, Brooklyn CORE, n.d., reel 41, CORE Microfilm.
35Norman Hill, interview with the author, 27 August 1997, Washington, DC; “Report on Negro
Women in the Hotel Industry,” 19 November 1964, reel 3, CORE Microfilm Addendum; Field Report,
15 February 1961, reel 42, CORE Microfilm.
36Newark Sunday News, 8 August 1963, reel 18, CORE Microfilm Addendum.

37Summary, “1962 CORE Employment-Housing Institute Workshop,” n.d., reel 24, CORE Microfilm.
38Conference Board, Company Experience with Negro Employment; Minutes, Employment Workshop,
National Convention, 28 June 1962, reel 2, CORE Microfilm.
390f thirty-eight companies surveyed, nine of them had been picketed. Company Experience with
Negro Employment 1, 130. For individual company experiences, see Ibid., 77, 84. For a sampling of
articles that “warn” of “trouble” from pickets, see Ted Cox, “A Counselor’s Views on Changing
Management Policies,” Public Relations Journal 19 (November 1963): 9; Jackie Robinson, “American
Enterprise and the Racial Crisis,” Sales Management, 16 August 1963, 33-37; “GM and the Negro,”
Business Week, 18 August 1964, 36.

40Flyer, “Committee for Equal Employment Opportunity in A & P Food Stores,” 5 December 1963, reel
43, CORE Microfilm.

41Long Island CORE Press Release, 1 October 1963, reel 22, CORE Microfilm.
42″The North Star,” January 1968, reel 22, CORE Microfilm; Norman Hill interview.

43″Picketing Goes on As Leaders Spurn Rockefeller Pact,” New York Times, 8 August 1963.
44Meier and Rudwick, CORE, 234-35, 253.

45Taylor, The Black Churches of Brooklyn, 156; “Characterization of Elizabeth, New Jersey, Group,” n.d.,
Reel 22, CORE Microfilm; “We Walk That Democracy May Fly,” read protester’s placards in front of
Trans World Airline’s 42nd Street ticket office. NYC CORE Press Release, 19 September 1964, reel 23,
CORE Microfilm. On changing CORE targets, see Meier and Rudwick, CORE, 187.

46Jacoby, Someone Else’s House, 18.

47″Meeting of N.U.L. and U.L.G.N.Y. on Job Development,” part II, box 31, Records of the National
Urban League, Library of Congress (hereafter “NUL Records, LC”); New York Negro-American Labor
Council Newsletter, May-June 1962; Urban League of Greater New York, Chronology, “Contacts
with World’s Fair,” 20 March 1962, box 3, James Haughton Papers, Schomburg Center for Research in
Black Culture, New York Public Library; Emanuel Perlmutter, “Democrats in State Press Bid for a
Session on Civil Rights,” New York Times, 19 June 1963, 21.

48″Picketing Goes on As Leaders Spurn Rockefeller Pact.”

49Benjamin Muse, The American Negro Revolution: From Nonviolence to Black Power (Bloomington, IN,
1968, 1973), 124; Marshall Dubin, interview with the author, 13 February 1997, New York; Norman
Hill interview; Leon Fink and Brian Greenberg, Upheaval in the Quiet Zone: A History of Hospital
Workers’ Local 1199 (Chapel Hill, NC, 1989), 102; “CORE’s Two Young Militants Who Won’t Be
Deterred,” New York Herald Tribune, 19 April 1964, 26.
50Junius Griffin, “Tie-Up on Subway Planned to Back Stall-In at Fair,” New York Times, 20 April 1964;
Robert Alden, “CORE Maps Tie-Up on Roads to the Fair,” New York Times, 10 April 1964.
51Telegram from James Farmer to Oliver Leeds, 9 April 1964, reel 22, CORE Microfilm; “Memo to
Steering Committee of National Action Council,” 11 April 1964, reel 1, CORE Microfilm; Fred C.
Shapiro, “Top Negro Groups on Stall-In–NO!” (New York) Herald Tribune, 17 April 1964, 1; Minutes,
NUL Labor and Industry Committee, 20 April 1964, box 4, Haughton Papers, Schomburg Center,
New York Public Library.
52″Fair Opens, Rights Stall-In Fails,” New York Times, 23 April 1964; “Stall-In Backers Explain Failure,”
New York Times, 24 April 1964.
53″Meeting with Representatives of the Joint Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity,
December 18, 1963,” box 3, folder 32, Discrimination Case Files, George Meany Memorial Archives.

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THE “NOT-BUYING POWER” OF THE BLACK COMMUNITY

54Joseph Lelyveld, “Farmer Is Given a ‘Gentle’ Arrest,” New York Times, 20 April 1964.
55Norman Hill interview.
56Meier and Rudwick, CORE, 190-91.

57″Transcript, Negotiating Session, Franklin National Bank,” 16 January 1963; Marvin Rich to Lincoln

Lynch, 11 February 1963, reel 22, CORE Microfilm. On tactics used in CORE’s bank actions, see
“Remaining Tasks for Assessment Project,” 12 April 1963, reel 1, CORE Microfilm.
58Richard Haley, “Memo on National Convention Workshop,” 1 March 1963, reel 4, Addendum,
CORE Microfilm.
59″To All California Statewide CORE Chapters,” 12 May 1964; San Francisco Chronicle, 13 May 1964; Los

Angeles Times, 15 June 1964; San Francisco Chronicle, 17 June 1964, all on reel 43, CORE Microfilm.
60″General Motors to Coleman,” 4 March 1964, reel 23, CORE Microfilm.

61John Perry, “Business: Next Target for Integration?” Harvard Business Review 41 (March-April,
1963), 105; “The Negro Drive for Jobs,” Business Week, 17 August 1963, 66; “GM and the Negro,” 36. For
examples of civil rights how-to’s in business-oriented publications, see Harold C. Fleming, “Improving
Industrial Race Relations,” Personnel Administration 26 (March 1963): 25-28; Caroline Bird, “More
Room at the Top: Company Experiences in Employing Negroes in Professional and Management
Jobs,” Management Review (March 1963): 4-15; D. Parke Gibson, “Image Building Necessary in the
Negro National Community,” Public Relations Journal (October 1965): 141; J. Hagan James, “Guidelines
for Initiating Fair Employment Practices,” Personnel (May-June 1963): 53-59.
620n the federal policy and Congressional hearings for federal Equal Employment legislation, see
Moreno, From Direct Action to Affirmative Action, 195-99.
63See Dennis C. Dickerson, Militant Mediator: Whitney M. Young, Jr. (Lexington, KY, 1998); Jesse
Thomas Moore, Jr., A Search for Equality: The National Urban League, 1910-1961 (University Park, PA,
1981).

64Julius A. Thomas, “Conference with Committee and Staff Members of the Urban League of
Greater New York Regarding Industrial Relations Program,” 28 December 1961, series 2, box 30, NUL
Records, LC.
65M. T. Puryear, “Field Visit to Grand Rapids,” 17 May 1963, part 2, box 28, NUL Records, LC;
“Statement of Cernoria D. Jackson,” U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Education and
Labor, Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1963, 88th Cong. 1st sess., House Report 570; “Meeting of
NUL and ULGNY,” 1 March 1962, part 2, box 31, NUL Records, LC.

66Minutes, Commerce and Industry Council, 12 June 1963, part 2, box 44, NUL Records, LC.
67J. A. Thomas to Whitney M. Young, Jr., “The Industrial Relations Program and Its Relation to Fund
Raising,” 17 July 1962, part 2, box 30, NUL Records, LC. On corporate donations to the Urban League
throughout the 1960s, see Dickerson, Militant Mediator, 217.
68″Biracial Group Presses Its Behind-the-Scenes Efforts to Aid Negroes,” Wall Street Journal, 5
September 1963; “Urban League Director Explains Plan to Give Negroes ‘Special Treatment”‘
Washington Post, 7 August 1963.
69Whitney M. Young, Jr., “Should There Be ‘Compensation’ for Negroes?” New York Times Magazine,
6 October 1963, 43; see also Nancy J. Weiss, Whitney M. Young, Jr., and the Struggle for Civil Rights
(Princeton, NJ, 1989), 151-53; Dickerson, Militant Mediator, 255.

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  • Article Contents
    • p. 135
    • p. 136
    • p. 137
    • p. 138
    • p. 139
    • p. 140
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  • Issue Table of Contents
    • The Journal of African American History, Vol. 89, No. 2, African Americans and the Urban Landscape (Spring, 2004), pp. 93-198
      • Front Matter
      • Introduction: African Americans and the Urban Landscape [pp. 93-97]
      • “Capital of the Caribbean”: The African American-West Indian “Harlem Nexus” and the Transnational Drive for Black Freedom, 1940-1948 [pp. 98-117]
      • Police-Black Community Relations in Postwar Philadelphia: Race and Criminalization in Urban Social Spaces, 1945-1960 [pp. 118-134]
      • The “Not-Buying Power” of the Black Community: Urban Boycotts and Equal Employment Opportunity, 1960-1964 [pp. 135-151]
      • Latasha Haruns, Soon JA DU, and Joyce Karlin: A Case Study of Multicultural Female Violence and Justice on the Urban Frontier [pp. 152-176]
      • Special Report
        • Recognizing Value in African American Heritage Objects [pp. 177-182]
      • Book Reviews
        • Review: untitled [pp. 183-185]
        • Review: untitled [pp. 185-187]
        • Review: untitled [pp. 187-189]
        • Review: untitled [pp. 189-191]
        • Review: untitled [pp. 191-193]
        • Review: untitled [pp. 193-194]
        • Review: untitled [pp. 195-196]
        • Review: untitled [pp. 196-198]
      • Back Matter