Featured Alumnus: Allan Kornblum ’55

At Stuyvesant, the late Allan Kornblum, Class of 1955, was a star football player, serving as quarterback for the Peglegs during their championship year, 1954.

After graduating from Stuyvesant, Mr. Kornblum received a degree in police administration from Michigan State University and a law degree from New York University. He later received his doctorate from Princeton University, writing a dissertation of police corruption and ethics.

Mr. Kornblum worked as a New York City police officer and a criminal investigator for the Treasury Department before becoming an agent with the F.B.I. He specialized in civil rights cases.

Following his tenure as an agent, he was commissioned by the Justice Department under President Gerald Ford’s administration to write clear procedures regarding surveillance and counterintelligence work. Mr. Kornblum worked on provisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) that dealt with the separation of private, irrelevant data from intelligence data of interest to the government. His provisions were designed to protect the privacy of private citizens while making possible the discovery of spies and terrorists. He later served as the first legal counsel to the secret court established by FISA to review requests for warrants.

Mr. Kornblum also played a key role as a witness in a federal murder trial. During his time as an F.B.I. agent in Mississippi, he’d been privy to the boastful confession of Ernest Avants. In 1966, Avants, a member of the Ku Klux Klan, had, with two other K.K.K. members, kidnapped and murdered a black farm worker, Ben Chester White. The murder was an attempt to capture the attention of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and draw him to Natchez, MS, to be assassinated.

Avants was acquitted in a state court, but, thirty-seven years later, was charged with a federal crime. Mr. Kornblum testified that Mr. Avants had described shooting Mr. White in the head. Mr. Avants was sentenced to life in prison without parole.