Interview with Albert Shanker

Why was it necessary to strike Ocean Hill-Brownsville in May of '68? W--why, why did it have to come to that?


Well, we didn't strike Ocean Hill-Brownsville in May of '68. First we asked for reasons. We were refused the reasons. Then we were asked, we asked for hearings and we didn't get the hearings and then we struck those schools because we said, "Look you're violating the law." We, by the way we called on the Mayor. We took ads in newspapers. We took radio things. We called on the Central Board of Education, we said, "Look this, this is a country which has laws, has rules, has regulations. We have a contract, ah. Give us access to a peaceful way of handling this and that's all we want. We're not saying these people, these teachers have to remain here. But we're saying, we're not going to make the decision and neither is Rhody McCoy, it's going to be handled the way it's always handled in a democratic society." When all these doors were shut, ah, that's when we said, "Well we have no choice. You're acting strictly on a basis of power, we have to act strictly on that basis because we have no other doors open to us. You won't even tell us why." And that's when we shut down the schools in Ocean Hill-Brownsville, Now we did, ah, the next month however, these teachers did get a hearing before a Judge Francis E. Rivers, a Vice President of the NAACP and prominent person in the Civil Rights Movement. And Judge Francis Rivers dismissed the charges against all these teachers, said that they, ah, that they ought to be sent back.