The Congress of Racial Equality was once one of the strongest, most dynamic civil rights organizations around. James Farmer is an American hero and his early achievements are portrayed in the Denzel Washington movie “The Great Debaters“. C.O.R.E. was first founded by a multiracial group of young people committed to the principles of Mahatma Gandhi. How far from Gandhi’s message have they traveled. It’s also a stark contrast between the values of some from the boomer generation of black leaders and younger ones like Green for All‘s amazing Van Jones who has inspired the nation to consider green collar jobs that can pair the work that most needs to be done with those who most need the work.

The video to the left is Van Jones’ incredible, visionary speech that had everyone on their feet at Netroots Nation just a few weeks ago. He was fresh from the arctic circle with a group of political and corporate leaders to check out global warming’s impact up close. His funny as hell address starts around 19:06 min (about a third of the way in). Today’s NY Times Magazine cover story in which JJP gets a mention also highlights the generational difference in leadership philosophy today in the black community.

Exxon has funded a “coalition” that includes a handful of paid-off black preachers and the decrepit, corrupt CORE to launch which purports to protect the black and brown from those evil environmental groups like NRDC trying to save the planet. I think we all learned from Hurricane Katrina that it is in fact the most vulnerable in society that will be hurt first and worst from the extreme weather caused by climate change.

According to their website, CORE and others in the coalition are “charging that an “unholy alliance” of environmental extremists and left-wing politicians are behind a new “sham” commission on climate change and African Americans”. They say those working to push back climate change are driving up gas prices and forcing people to choose between food and fuel.


Here’s the real deal from NRDC’s Switchboard blog:

Yesterday, the Pacific Legal Foundation, a property-rights law firm, filed a letter on behalf of the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE) and other groups announcing their intention to challenge the listing of the polar bear as a “threatened species” under the Endangered Species Act in federal court. CORE is an organization deeply committed to opposing efforts to control global warming pollution.

The connection? Exxon is a major funder of CORE. Greenpeace has confirmed large contributions to CORE by Exxon Mobil or its corporate foundation as recently as 2005, and statement’s by Niger Innis, CORE’s National Spokesperson, certainly seem to indicate that contributions have flowed to the organization more recently than that (it’s unclear from the transcript exactly where they were directed):

Monica Trauzzi: OK. Are your climate change outreach efforts supported by Exxon Mobil?

Niger Innis: No, they are not. Our climate change outreach, our organization is, I mean, we’re a nonprofit organization and you may know the business of being a nonprofit organization, if you’re in the business of being a nonprofit organization you need to support from as many different corners and quarters, corporate as well as membership, as you can get. Exxon Mobil is one of many different supporters of the Congress of Racial Equality.

It’s a damn shame. Lord have mercy. I am just glad my father isn’t alive today to see how far from its former ideals CORE has fallen. You see, he was a proud member once and a student of Gandhi himself. I sure know he’d be glad that new organizations like Green for All and new leaders like Van Jones have stepped into the gap to lift us higher.

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