FBI documents on San Francisco CORE

sf core fbi 1961.pdf
sf core fbi 1964.pdf

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FBI documents on San Francisco CORE


FBI documents on CORE


This is a collection of FBI documents pertaining to San Francisco. They come from the Federal Surveillance of African Americans 1920-1984 database.
According to Meier and Rudwick's history of CORE, the chapter was first set up by field secretary Gordon Carey in 1959. It became inactive within a few months but was revived by 1961 mostly due to the Freedom Rides. At the time it was a mostly White chapter

The first set of documents are from 1961. They are part of the COINTELPRO program against the Communist Party (CPUSA).
They report that according to an informant two leading members of CPUSA were trying to start a CORE chapter
in San Francisco. The documents also show the FBI knew that CORE would refuse to affiliate a CORE chapter if CORE discovered through word of mouth that those applying had any type of CP connections.
The FBI decided on counterintelligence actions to prevent the CPUSA members from forming a CORE chapter. An anonymous letter supposedly from a member of the NAACP was sent to warn CORE of the CPUSA members plans to establish a CORE chapter in San Francisco. The documents note how the Bureau was cautious the letter could not be traced back to the FBI.

The second set of documents are from 1964. The chapter was then by Bill Bradley.
At issue is an upcoming convention for an ‘action based socialist youth organization’ and plans by San Francisco CORE to demonstrate against the President.
Again, as part of a plan ‘to expose and disrupt the communist inspired, Marxist inspired’ youth convention, the Bureau authored and sent a ‘fictitious letter’ to several local politicians and newspapers.
Several newspaper articles were subsequently published in which CORE's plans to demonstrate against the President were denounced by the governor and mayor. The organization responsible for the youth convention (which would included many ‘militant civil rights figures’ including several members from CORE) is described by reporters as having ‘ominously left wing associations’ and connected to the Communist Party.
The articles make a not so subtle connection between the civil rights movement and communism, the implication being the movement is something bent on destroying America thereby giving CORE a negative reputation. There is no critical analysis in the articles on the differences between socialism and communism.
The reports make clear the FBI believed these articles and the politicians statements were a direct result of its ‘counterintelligence activity’.

These were classic COINTELPRO tactics; sending anonymous letters, trying to use one organization in the movement against another, using reporters to plant stories in newspapers to further the goals of the FBI and disrupt groups that had been working on behalf of Blacks.


Federal Bureau of Investigation


Federal Surveillance of African Americans 1920-1984


Federal Surveillance of African Americans 1920-1984




public domain


San Francisco


Federal Bureau of Investigation, “FBI documents on San Francisco CORE,” The CORE Project, accessed December 9, 2023, http://www.thecoreproject.org/omeka/items/show/45.

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