“I didn’t know the magnitude of the civil rights movement here. I never knew Thurgood Marshall came to Amityville,” Dr. Verga told us last year. “I didn’t know about the efforts of the Auto Workers Union, working with the NAACP.
“Congress of Racial Equality [CORE] was very active; and this wasn’t the South. These were some of the first civil rights freedom fighters, right here on Long Island.”
Dr. Verga, who lives in Bay Shore, will be discussing his book and fielding questions at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 16 at Bay Shore-Brightwaters Public Library, which is typically where the Historical Society holds its events. The address is 1 South Country Road in Brightwaters. All are welcome.
Long Island has been in the corridors of almost all major turning points of American history, but has been overlooked as a battle ground of the civil rights movement. Since early colonization of the English settlers in the 17th century, the shadow of slavery has bequeathed a racial caste system that has directly or indirectly been enforced.
During the outbreak of World War II every member of society was asked to participate in ending tyranny within European and Asian borders. Returning home Black soldiers expected a societal change in race relations; instead they found the same racial barriers they experienced prior to the war.
Black soldiers were refused homes in developments such as Levittown, denied mortgages, and had their children face limited educational opportunities. Collective efforts from organizations such as Congress of Racial Equality (C.O.R.E.) and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) employed civil disobedience as a tactic to fracture racial barriers.
Utilized Images from local historical societies and private collections to create a narrative of civil rights challenges and triumphs These photographed defining moments have become testament to the future of an increasing diverse suburb.
Photo: Chris Verga with a copy of his Civil Rights on Long Island at Barnes & Noble in Bay Shore. (file photo)