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Guide to the Arnie Goldwag Brooklyn Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) collection ARC.002

128 Pierrepont Street
Brooklyn, NY, 11201
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Brooklyn Historical Society

Collection processed by Larry Weimer

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on May 19, 2011
English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Biographical/Historical note

Arnold (Arnie) Stanley Goldwag was born on January 18, 1938. A resident of Brooklyn, Goldwag attended Brooklyn College beginning in 1955 where he held leadership positions in a range of organizations, including social fraternities, student government, and student rights groups. He left Brooklyn College about 1961 without graduating, though he was readmitted in 1966 and graduated in 1968.

While still at Brooklyn College in the late 1950s, Goldwag became involved in the activities of the Brooklyn chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), starting with distributing fliers urging a boycott of Woolworth's. His role in the chapter expanded quickly, and in the years of Goldwag's active participation in CORE (1960-1965), he held leadership positions, principally as the Community Relations Director. In this position, Goldwag was responsible for press relations, publicity, and coordination with communities and demonstrators on the organization's direct actions. Over the course of his tenure in Brooklyn CORE, Goldwag participated in a number of actions, both locally, such as the 1963 Board of Education sit-in, and nationally, such as in Cambridge, Maryland, where Goldwag was involved in CORE's effort to desegregate public facilities. Goldwag's activism led to several arrests and a 13 month prison sentence in 1964; he served one month of the sentence in Rikers Island penitentiary.

Founded in Chicago in 1942, CORE was centered on the principles of interracial, nonviolent direct action. Local chapters that affiliated with national CORE had a great deal of autonomy of action. Within this structure, Brooklyn CORE emerged in the early 1960s as one of the most radical CORE chapters, focusing on the living conditions of poor African-Americans in Bedford-Stuyvesant and employing increasingly aggressive confrontational tactics. It was during this surging radical activism in Brooklyn CORE that Goldwag was a central figure in the chapter and in its many civil rights actions. Indeed, Goldwag was a principal creator of one of Brooklyn CORE's most controversial actions, the Stall-In at the opening of the 1964 World's Fair. This action, which called for the deliberate blockage of automobile traffic headed to the Fair in order to call attention to discrimination against African-Americans, led to the suspension of the chapter by CORE.

Subsequent to his days with CORE, which ended in 1965, and his 1968 graduation from Brooklyn College, Goldwag went to work for the New York City Human Resources Administration as a contract manager for home care programs. In the 1990s he went on leave to work for his union (Social Service Employees Union Local 371) as Health and Safety Coordinator. In the 1990s and 2000s, Goldwag was actively engaged in ensuring that the civil rights movement was remembered, and its continued struggle recognized. He participated in a number of conferences and oral histories, and opened his files to researchers. Arnie Goldwag died on August 9, 2008.