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Civil rights movement

Congress of Racial Equality

The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) was established by James Farmer in 1942 to improve race relations and end discriminatory policies through direct action projects.

Somewhat uniquely at the time, it brought together African American and white people into its ranks.

Farmer was heavily influenced by Gandhi’s approach towards non-violence and saw it as the best tactic to challenge racial prejudice.

CORE’s first activity was a sit-in at a coffee shop in Chicago in 1942, one of the first such protests in the US, and the resulting media attention brought the organisation into the national spotlight and rapidly expanded its influence, especially in the Northern states.

In the late 1950s CORE turned its attention to the South, challenging public segregation and launching voter registration drives for African Americans.

After Southern states ignored the Supreme Court’s decision on the unconstitutionality of segregated seating on interstate buses, CORE launched the first Freedom Ride as an interracial peaceful protest.

The group’s ethos became all the more dramatic when its non-violent demonstrations were met by vicious responses from whites. Farmer himself survived a KKK murder plot.

CORE, under Farmer’s leadership, was pivotal in passing of the Civil Rights Act in 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.