NYCRC’s Critical Role

The New York Civil Rights Coalition (NYCRC) is an organization of people imbued with a 21st century orientation and who are concerned with kindling in Americans a spirit of unity and commitment in achieving a truly open and just society, where the individual enjoys the blessings of liberty free of racial prejudice, stigma, caste or discrimination. In this regard, NYCRC works purposefully to encourage people and institutions to take affirmative steps to achieve an integrated society—inclusive neighborhoods; strong, diverse, and interracial educational systems, both public and private; equal opportunity in employment and voting rights; and every citizen’s unfettered participation in the civic affairs of our democracy.

We are committed to integration as a strategy as well as a philosophy for accomplishing equal opportunities because we believe that in the field of race “separate is inherently unequal.” There is much evidence that a racially-fractionalized society perpetuates inequalities and imperils the unity of the nation. Moreover, a racially-polarized society reinforces stereotypes, and fosters intergroup suspicion, hostility and rivalry. NYCRC, therefore objects to all forms of segregation and schemes that in purpose or effect separate people on the flimsy basis of their skin color. Thus, NYCRC works to promote and strengthen racial harmony and understanding through the realization of the uniqueness of the individual, and by convincing “tomorrow’s people” that there is only one race to which we all belong, and that our humanity is the bond of our diversity and commonality.

The New York Civil Rights Coalition (NYCRC) exists to combat racial idiocy and to help Americans to unlearn stereotypes. NYCRC’s leaders speak out knowledgeably and intelligently about racial and other prejudices, and to defuse racial and ethnic tensions and conflicts. We speak out to protest acts of hatred and other such incidents. NYCRC has mobilized organizations and individuals to purposeful, non-violent action, in response to all forms and outbreaks of bigotry, including anti-black behavior, anti-Asian violence, xenophobia, and anti-Semitism. NYCRC analyzes historic and current events related to racial prejudice and problems of discrimination, and seeks, through research, fact-finding, publication and plain speech to counteract myths and reckless rumors. NYCRC also serves as a watchdog of government, assessing the equitable delivery of essential governmental services related to human resource development and human relations concerns.

NYCRC prepares youth to assume and to demonstrate their civic and leadership responsibilities, through internships and volunteerism in school programs and through community service. In this regard, NYCRC involves youth and adults of all colors, ethnic backgrounds, nationalities and religions in our programs and activities toward racial/ethnic reconciliation and harmony.

NYCRC affirms the principles of personal liberty and limited government. Hence, NYCRC operates in accordance with a philosophy that enforced racial segregation is an unwarranted restriction on individual liberty. Thus, pressures to separate people on the flimsy basis of their skin color are to be resisted and challenged, because such pressures stifle individuality, restrict equal opportunity, lock people out of places, and deprive them of meaningful social intercourse and contacts that are essential for them and society if we are to eradicate the conventions of racial prejudice and caste.

No other civil rights organization like NYCRC exists in New York or the nation. NYCRC has a central office of core staff, headed by an expert in civil rights who was trained by and is the protege of the venerable Roy Wilkins (the NAACP’s Executive Director for 22 years) and of the eminent scholar and psychologist, Dr. Kenneth B. Clark. The New York Civil Rights Coalition started out with a grassroots structure of citywide community, civic and legal defense organizations (each of which reserved the right of self-governance while agreeing to work cooperatively on specific campaigns) that joined forces to advance public education and understanding about the crisis in race relations, and to foster intergroup harmony and individual freedom. And, unlike single-purpose rights and “ethnic” organizations, NYCRC allied itself with all victims and targets of discrimination or hate. For example, NYCRC stood with Jews and Italians against the racist rhetoric of African American Professor Leonard Jeffries. And NYCRC stood with Asians against those who claimed to represent the black Brooklyn community as they chanted at Koreans such vicious epithets as “yellow dogs” on Church Avenue in Flatbush, Brooklyn. NYCRC also co-sponsored a memorial service on Staten Island for a man who fell victim to anti-gay violence. And NYCRC sponsored interracial night-time, candle-lit vigils through the Canarsie and Bensonhurst sections of Brooklyn–two racial hotbeds, in response to anti-black violence there.

Unfashionable, and oftentimes unpopular, NYCRC is always principled and attentive to its mandate to oppose all acts of bias and incitements to racial discrimination and divisiveness. Moreover, NYCRC has long provided quality analysis of political, civic, historical, and current events and developments in the field of human and race relations, upon which the public at large, constituent groups, and the media rely for an honest perspective and rigorous assessment.

NYCRC is an organizational success, although it is often underfunded and sometimes defunded by erstwhile and summer allies, because of its controversial and principled stances. Nevertheless, NYCRC’s refusal to be intimidated into silence, its steadfast commitment to principle, its tireless work on behalf of a truly open society and to equal opportunity and fair play for all, including its work on behalf of poor and powerless people of all colors, in an increasingly competitive and racially-divided society, has won support from other principled and similarly public-spirited groups, individuals, and funders. Since 1986, when NYCRC was founded, the New York Civil Rights Coalition has been funded by contributions from the public at large and by small foundations. As a matter of policy, NYCRC, because of its government watchdog function, does not seek and does not accept governmental funding.

NYCRC was incorporated in 1992 as a New York not-for-profit organization; and it received its 501(c) 3 tax-exemption that year from the Internal Revenue Service. In accordance with the not-for-profit laws of New York State and consonant with its fiduciary responsibilities as a tax-exempt charitable organization, NYCRC’s governance structure was also transformed such that its previous Steering Committee transitioned into the NYCRC’s board of directors. The board of directors of NYCRC, from the beginning up to the present, has been composed of prominent citizens of stature, courage, independence, and the utmost personal integrity. No longer a consortium of groups, the New York Civil Rights Coalition is wholly governed by its board of directors. And it is wholly supported by tax-deductible donations.

In keeping with its founding principles, which include the strategem of cooperation on the part of people of good will, of all colors, and in keeping with its non-partisan efforts on behalf of racial equality and individual dignity, the board of directors of the New York Civil Rights Coalition has affirmed that coalition for us is a process, no longer a structure for mobilizing support on behalf of racial reconciliation and in pursuing our mission of combating racial idiocy and stereotypes. Our motto encapsulates our purposes as a non-partisan, truth-telling civil rights advocacy organization: “Fighting Racial Idiocy/Fostering the Unlearning of Stereotypes.”