Religious tensions rose in New York City as Christians moved to support Negroes against the Jewish-dominated teachers’ union in the school decentralization controversy.
Vitriolic charges and countercharges of Jewish “racism” and Negro “anti-Semitism” and the distribution of hate literature made the situation more ugly.
The teachers’ union, largely white and two-thirds Jewish, defied widespread criticism and continued its third citywide strike since school began. They were demanding reinstatement of 83 teachers ousted by the governing board of the city’s first neighborhood-controlled school district, the mainly Negro and Puerto Rican Ocean Hill-Brownsville section in Brooklyn. More than one million pupils were affected by the strike.
President of the neighborhood school board in the battle is United Presbyterian minister C. Herbert Oliver, a graduate of Nyack Missionary College and Wheaton (Illinois) College.
Outright condemnation of the strikes and support for decentralization of school control came from top officials of the National Council of Churches, United Presbyterian Church, the city’s Protestant Council, United Methodist Board of Missions, and United Church of Christ. Protestant and Roman Catholic clergy participated in a city hall demonstration in favor of decentralization.
A statement by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, famed minister of Marble Collegiate Church and president of the Protestant Council, was typical. He said the union’s “intransigence” was the only barrier to getting the schools functioning again. “The due process cry of the teachers’ union has a hollow ring when they themselves engaged in an illegal strike.” He called for union support of decentralization as stipulated in its contract with the city. “That would ...1
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