Interview with Rhody McCoy

When did the issue of anti-semitism first come into the picture? When was that first brought up, and how was that brought up?


Well, I, ah, I suspect that it, it was, it was, ah, the reason I'm hesitating is because the incident of Les Campbell reading a poem gave, ah, if I take some of the quotations of people like Ken Clark and them, "You ga- you just made Les Campbell the best paid, ah, friend of Al Shanker." "You handed him what he needed, ah, by reading the poem." So, the, the incident of the poem was not important. It just happened to be the thing that was publicized that he could grasp on. I think the question was engendered by the union in tal- in terms of talking to its constituents and meaning to the people, the Jewish people of the city of New York and probably the state of New York, that we were destroying the union, we were destroying, ah, civil service, we were destroying all of this. Because on any number of speaking engagements that I was asked to appear before, ah, the question of, ah, that Jewish people would ask me, "Why are we trying to put them in the ovens?" Because the overwhelming percentage of teachers of that 19 were obviously Jewish. Because that's what you had in New York City. So, they were saying, "Why are you destroying and taking these postures against Jews?" So, I'm saying the subtlety was always there in the White community. We, we weren't paying any attention. And when I say White, I mean the Jewish community. Ah, and so when the incident came with, ah, Les Campbell, it helped Shanker unify the Jewish community behind him, because up to that point, I had more, ah, Jewish kids coming into our school district while the schools were on strike, coming into our district going to school.