Interview with Albert Shanker
QUESTION 17
INTERVIEWER:

What, what role in Ocean Hill-Brownsville do you, does anti-Semitism play in the, in the development of, of events? Do you think it's a key ingredient to, to what was happening in terms of the resistance to certain teachers in the schools?

ALBERT SHANKER:

Well it becau--it became very important as the strike went on.

INTERVIEWER:

If you could just rephrase it, "Anti-Semitism..."

ALBERT SHANKER:

Yes anti-Semitism was not, and it certainly had nothing to do with starting the strike. And it had nothing to do with keeping the strike going. And it had nothing to do with the settlement. It had an awful lot to do with how people came to see the strike in public terms. Ah, during, ah, the year before the strike, there were some anonymous materials that were put out. During the course of the strike several of the leaders of the Afro-American Teachers Association, distributed, and as a matter of fact some of the official literature of the Afro-American Teachers Association, contained anti-Semitic pieces. And, ah, this then, the issue of, ah, ah, anti-Semitism became a very important issue in terms of its identification with an organization which at that time had not been a very active or strong organization, and it's circulation within Ocean Hill-Brownsville. Now, also there were, as these teachers had tried to return to their schools or as they walked the picket line, there were, there were a substantial number of anti-Semitic incidents, not just during the strike but befo--before the strike as well. So that anti-Semitism was, was one of the issues, ah, but I would say that the issue wasn't essentially anti-Semitism, the issue became, "Will those Black people who are prominent in this particular community, ah, is this a district that's going to run on the basis of prejudice and discrimination? Is it going, is this part of how the, the Governing Board operates?" And then one of the principals, ah, was a person who made remarks not only against Jews, she made remarks against other ethnic groups, so that you had, ah, the beginnings of an identification of support for Ocean Hill-Brownsville. Ah, now of course, Ocean Hill-Brownsville was not responsible for what was put out by these groups, except that usually if you have somebody supporting you who makes racist remarks, you should repudiate them. And they weren't repudiated. These groups were embraced unfortunately.

INTERVIEWER:

Okay, cut, we're just going to change sound.

INTERVIEWER:

Yes--