As I became involved with the civil rights movement, then the peace movement and the left in general, my name was spread around, and I found that Black people and later Latinos would employ my legal services even if they were not sympathetic to my political views. I suspect that they felt that if I was daring or courageous enough to hold such views, I could be depended upon to give devoted and zealous service. I tried to keep away from formal left activities, even though that was where my mind and heart were.
I did become an active member of a local group called the Freeport Community Relations Council, which was a liberal organization seeking the end of segregation and racism. It had many prominent members, including George Jackson, a Hofstra University history professor, David Kadane, the attorney for Long Island Lighting Company, and Sheldon Ackley, a leader of the Ethical Culture Society. Freeport historically had a small black population cooped up in a poor section of the Village around Merrick Road near the Meadowbrook Parkway. The Freeport Village government and the community at large had done their best to prevent this black community from increasing in size. In contrast, the Freeport Community Relations Council sought to make Freeport a truly welcoming town for all people.
A Black family by the name of Crum was denied an apartment in Freeport, and there was no doubt in my mind that this denial was due to racism. A complaint was filed with the NY State human rights body, and this became my first civil rights case. The landlord was represented by a rightwing attorney connected with the Conservative Party. (He ran on the Republican and Conservative lines opposing Allard K. Lowenstein in the 1968 Congressional Race in what was then the Fifth Congressional District.) Hearings were conducted and positions were vigorously presented in the Crum case. Members of the Freeport Community Relations Council attended in force, and I worked hard in preparing and trying the case. Discrimination was found and the Crums got their apartment. I couldn’t have been happier.