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Private collection of Marvin Rich.

Cracking the Color Line: non-violent direct action methods of eliminating racial discrimination

A thirty-two page CORE pamphlet written by Jim Peck and designed by Jerry Goldman in 1959-60.*

The introduction is by Martin Luther King Jr., and reads in part:

CORE puts before people's eyes a new way of acting. You say and you show that feelings about segregation are silly, that customs can change without disaster following, and that this is the time to change them. And you proceed to demonstrate. Here is a method of achieving social change which we all may use.

The illustrated pamphlet describes nonviolent direct actions conducted by CORE across the country during the 1940s and 1950s, including:

  • the long process of negotiation and research that preceded a sit in at a segregated restaurant in Chicago in 1943;
  • the strategy of suggesting "experimental" integration to restaurants and stores, allowing them to "try on" non-discrimination before "wearing" it -- proving that fears of big losses in business were unfounded;
  • the "waiting line" technique, where black and white CORE members would line up to enter segregated amusement parks and swimming pools --meeting refusals and even violence by standing their ground;
  • the painstaking process of assisting southern blacks with voter registration in the face of intense resistance by local election officials.

One personal detail in the narrative describes Marvin Rich when he was one of a number of CORE workers who were the subject of violent assaults in the summer of 1951 in St.Louis -- they all responded non-violently, renewed their leafleting and campaigning, and ultimately prevailed.

*Note: Jim Peck was brutally beaten by a group of Southern white supremacists while participating in one of the Freedom Rides.