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The Congress Of Racial Equality (CORE) was founded on this date in 1942. CORE is an American interracial voluntary organization that takes direct-action projects to improve race relations and end discriminatory policies. The founding members of CORE were James L. Farmer, Jr., Bernice Fisher, George Houser, Homer A. Jack, James Russell Robinson, and Joe Guinn.
Farmer had been working as the race-relations secretary for the Fellowship of Reconciliation but resigned over a dispute in policy; he founded CORE as a vehicle for the nonviolent approach to combating racial prejudice inspired by the East Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi. CORE members held a sit-in at a coffee shop in Chicago in their founding year; it was one of the first of its kind in the United States. Other CORE projects have included voter registration drives in the South and actions to deal with a wide range of community issues in the North.
One of their most memorable projects was sending "Freedom Riders" through the South in 1947 to test segregation laws and practices in interstate transportation. Later, leaders focused on Black American political and economic empowerment. Some members have tended to agree with white-American Civil Rights critics such as Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush. (Then) CORE leader Roy Innis supported the nominations of Robert Bork (1987) and Clarence Thomas (1991) to the U.S. Supreme Court.
According to an interview by Farmer in 1993, "CORE has no functioning chapters; it holds no conventions, no elections, no meetings, sets no policies, has no social programs and does no fund-raising. In my opinion, CORE is fraudulent." In 1996-98, Innis led teams that monitored elections in Nigeria. By 1999, CORE had about 100,000 members in 5 regional groups, 39 state groups, and 116 local groups. The organization maintains its headquarters in New York City.
CORE has an African branch based in Uganda, with Fiona Kobusingye as its director. Bringing attention to the malaria crisis is one of the organization's main activities, and it has championed the use of DDT to fight the disease. It has partnered with various conservative and libertarian think tanks in this effort. In 2007, CORE organized a 300-mile walk across Uganda to promote DDT-based interventions against malaria.
CORE has been criticized for its efforts promoting DDT use against malaria in Africa by environmentalist groups. An article in Mother Jones magazine accused the group of selling influence, writing that, "is better known among real civil rights groups for renting out its historic name to any corporation in need of a black front person. The group has taken money from the payday-lending industry, chemical giant (and original DDT manufacturer) Monsanto and a reported $40,000 from Exxon Mobil." In his book, Not A Conspiracy Theory: How Business Propaganda Hijacks Democracy, Donald Gutstein wrote that, "In recent years CORE used its African American facade to work with conservative groups to attack organizations like Greenpeace and undermine environmental regulation."
The African American Atlas
Black History & Culture an Illustrated Reference
by Molefi K. Asanta and Mark T. Mattson
Macmillan USA, Simon & Schuster, New York