CONGRESS OF RACIAL EQUALITY The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) is a black protest and direct action organization which was founded in 1942 in Chicago by James Farmer and a group of University of Chicago students. Farmer himself served as the national director of CORE from 1942 until 1966. Originally interracial in nature, CORE was the first black protest movement which used the Gandhian techniques of passive resistance, nonviolence and civil disobedience in order to achieve reform. In this respect, CORE represented a clear alternative for those African Americans dissatisfied with the NAACP's emphasis upon litigation and legislation.
Although the so-called "sit-in movement" is normally associated with the early 1960's, CORE sponsored the first successful sit-in demonstration at a restaurant in Chicago as early as June 1943. In addition to this technique, CORE members began the practice of "stand-ins" (persistent waiting in line at places of public accommodation which denied admission to blacks) during the early 1940's. One of the most significant achievements of CORE came during the early 1960's with its successful attempt to desegregate southern buses and bus terminals by means of what were called "freedom rides." The organization's efforts in this regard were rewarded when the Interstate Commerce Commission ruled that racial segregation on buses and in bus terminals engaged in interstate travel was illegal.
Under the leadership of Floyd B. McKissick, who succeeded Farmer as national director in 1966, and Roy Innis, who became national director in 1968, CORE has drifted from its original image as an interracial, desegregationist civil rights group to a position of separatism, militancy and avowed support for the ideological principles of the Black Power movement. In 1967, CORE officials drafted a fifteen-point program which embodied not only the ideological stance of the organization but also a list of priorities for future action. Calling for a "total action program" and a "promulgation of black power," this document advocated the teaching of African languages in the ghettos; the development of black arts and cultural centers; the inauguration of a "country cousin" program whereby displaced rural blacks would be resettled in the ghettos; the cementing of African American ties to Africa; the establishment of a continuing conference program concerning contemporary ghetto problems; and a program of economic cooperation for black Americans. See also: FREEDOM RIDES.