Lincoln Lynch was one of the first chairmen of the Long Island chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). Originally from Jamaica, Lynch first immigrated to England and served during World War II in Great Britain's Royal Air Force. He eventually came to the United States in 1951, settling in Long Island, where he remained for most of his life. In addition to his work with CORE, he was an officer in the New York Urban Coalition and participated in the Route 40 Freedom Rides. He also worked with local Long Island (including the Lakeview community) civil rights organizations, such as Neighbors United, which worked to bring more Black families into the area, and the United Committee for Action Now (UCAN), which focused on school integration. Lynch was credited with bringing the civil rights movement to the suburbs, mostly through his work with Long Island CORE (LI CORE). LI CORE was originally named Levittown CORE in 1960. When it began, there were only a handful of African American residents living in the area so the organization was predominantly white and had a difficult time recruiting. Lincoln Lynch was one of the first members of color, and he became chair in 1962. Some of the projects initiated under his leadership included securing housing for Blacks in primarily white Long Island neighborhoods and fighting for school integration. Actions, which became more aggressive under his leadership, included lawsuits, pressuring public officials, pickets, demonstrations, boycotts, and sit-ins. Campaigns were launched against the local banking industry, demanding more jobs for Blacks and Puerto Ricans. Another campaign, Operation Breakthrough, which was launched with the Long Beach NAACP, dealt with the living conditions of Blacks in Long Beach. They were only allowed to live in a certain section made up of “shantytown shacks” where rents were actually higher than in other parts of the city. Two sit-ins were held at retail stores, leading to the arrest of Lynch and others. These arrests, LI CORE’s first, led to three injunctions to stop further demonstrations. The charges were eventually withdrawn but the legal bill incurred threatened to bankrupt the chapter. However, Operation Breakthrough resulted in the arrests of several slumlords and the creation of a human rights commission for the area. Long Beach officials also agreed to end discrimination in housing, unemployment, and public facilities. The next big action by LI CORE took place on Independence Day at Jones Beach, the public beach on Long Island. As part of CORE’s summer of 1963 mass demonstrations throughout the NYC metropolitan area, the chapter took on employment by the LI State Park Commission. While one group demonstrated at the Park Commissioner’s office, forty LI CORE members held a sit-in during which they laid down in front of moving cars on a roadway at Jones Beach. While the campaign forced the LI State Park Commission to hear its grievances, the only result was a promise to make a strong effort to find jobs for people of color. As school started in September, LI CORE joined a coalition to fight against school segregation in the Malverne village school district. At the Davison Avenue School, Lynch showed up with four mothers and their children demanding that they be enrolled; Lynch and the mothers were arrested when they refused to leave after being denied. That fall, an even more successful series of employment campaigns focused on retail shopping centers, starting with the Roosevelt Field shopping center, where few Blacks held positions. Because the company would not negotiate, LI CORE held a sit-in. By the end of November, the chapter won concessions including: two hundred temporary hires for the holiday season, 50% of which were to be kept on permanently and not in menial, non-visual positions. In March of 1964, LI CORE took on the Green Acres shopping center in Valley Stream. The shopping center agreed to hire ten Blacks and Puerto Ricans immediately and ninety more over the year. The same deal was made with the Mid-Island shopping center and followed by a campaign against the Nassau shopping center. In Riverhead, in Suffolk County, Black migrant workers from the south had been living in houses that were described in the press as shanties. LI CORE helped residents form their own group, RACE, the Riverhead Action Committee for Equality. The resulting negative attention caused Suffolk county to step up efforts to relocate the migrants into nearby adequate housing.</p><p>In 1965, the national headquarters of CORE decided to switch its focus on protesting to community organizing. At first, Lynch and LI CORE resisted but eventually they emphasized assisting local people in organizing themselves and supporting actions without necessarily being in charge. Their goals included more Black teachers in local schools, better housing, and running its own candidates for town and village election. LI CORE also was successful in getting two Blacks into the Roosevelt Fire Department but its campaign to integrate the Hempstead Fire Department slowed by the fall of 1966. At the beginning of 1966, Lynch became the associate national director and then the first vice chairman of CORE, its second highest position. Lynch, one of the most successful practitioners of CORE’s concept of non-violent direct action, urged that members of civil rights groups be permitted to defend themselves if attacked during demonstrations. He did not suggest initiating violence; he was among the first civil rights leaders to speak out against U.S. involvement in the Vietnam war. He did support Black Power immediately and declared "Black Power is here to stay!” After his tenure at CORE, Lynch worked for other organizations, including Community Board No. 9 Manhattan and ECHO (Executive Council Housing Organizing), which was part of the Episcopal Church Center. Lynch died at the age 91.
The Lincoln Lynch collection consists of personal and professional material. Personal papers, though limited, include a letter from his wife revealing the pressure of Lynch’s position on their marriage; certificates; and a resume. The Professional papers, which make up the bulk of the collection, contain materials from his various positions, beginning with his employment at the British Overseas Airways Corp. and ending with his position at ECHO (Executive Council Housing Organizing). The majority of the professional series, however, is comprised of material related to Lynch's involvement with the Lakeview community's civil rights groups and his work at LI CORE. The Lakeview community files contain correspondence, including a lot of hate mail, some personally addressed to Lynch; flyers for meetings and demonstrations; calls to action; newsletters; and printed matter (mostly news clippings). The papers pertaining to CORE include by-laws; correspondence, statements, meeting agendas and minutes, reports, membership lists, newsletters, and printed matter (again, mostly news clippings). Some of the correspodence is from CORE members, seeking the organization’s aid in their struggle against discrimination, and students, expressing interest in CORE’s activities. Additionally, there are invitations for Lynch to speak, which include his speeches and notes. Much of the correspondence, however, is not from or to Lynch but from or to the national headquarters of CORE and its director, Floyd McKissick. Notable correspondents include Roy Wilkins, Adam Clayton Powell, A. Philip Randolph, Roy Innis, and Eugene T. Reed. The LI Core materials also consist of materials relating to conferences; collaborations with other community organizations such as the Rockville Center, Hempstead Economic Council, and Nassau County Legal Services; printed matter from other civil rights organizations, such as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC); and published and unpublished writing by others about various civil rights issues. The rest of the Professional series contains limited information, mostly correspondence, about Lynch's positions after CORE; writing samples (most of which are fragments); and printed matter about Lynch (mostly news clippings). The final series, Subject files, contains printed matter (mostly news clippings) pertaining to the Civil Rights Movement, Black Power, school and housing integration, and the war in Vietnam, among others.